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The Cusp by Roberto Occhipinti

These are only 13 guys, just a small combo, but together they somehow contrive to sound like a big band, a tightly wound orchestra even an ensemble featuring a kaleidoscopic spectrum of alternating sounds. Roberto Occhipinti is a bassist, composer and arranger and seems to believe in providing competent backseat driving to the highly synchronized group. The sound is reminiscent sometimes of Lalo Schieffrin, Jackie Gleason, Neal Hefty, Elmer Bernstein even early Quincy Jones.

Listen to track 6 ‘Prieto Azul’ very obviously in the up-tempo Bossa Nova idiom and one feels it’s the Woody Herman band dressed in jeans and T-shirts, finally taking their jackets off and letting their hair loose, playing in the modern settings. Track 4 on the other hand, is a Rock classic ‘ Voodoo Chile’ from the Jimi Hendrix stable and Ochhipinti’s combo seems to have bluesed it up with a thoroughness that triggers off pure marvel. This sort of transplantation of a fragrant shrub into an alien territory is neither simple nor without risk.... very few artists can masterfully truly deliver without some of the original flavor transforming into something else altogether.

The surprising element in Occhipinti’s arrangements is the deft use of free jazz elements, just when one feels the music is getting to be rather light and fluffy -he suddenly socks it to the listener with a goodish dose of simply macho improvisation that pins one’s attention mercilessly. The overall musical excellence is remarkable and the use of various instruments is just perfect. The choice of tunes is good and so is the professional production. Les Allt on flutes, Phil Dwyer on tenor and soprano sax, Kevin Turcotte on trumpet and Hilario Duran on piano provide outstanding performances. A sparkling CD on the whole.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Roberto Occhipinti
  • CD Title: The Cusp
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Modicamusic.com
  • Rating: Four Stars
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