VINNIE RICCITELLI OCTET: FOR THE RECORD
Author: Peter Vacher
Here’s a surprise. Having last recorded a jazz album under his own name back in 1956, 94-year old New York alto-saxophonist Riccitelli, now retired after seven decades of session and studio calls, thought it about time he made another. As arranger rather than player this time. He contributed the majority of the charts here, plus several originals and oversaw things, and given the quality of what is on offer here, it was time well spent.
With its mixture of standards and bebop specialties, 17 in all, framed in an updated West Coast-style, what you get are well-crafted charts, executed with appropriate brio and studded with solos of genuine consequence. Riccitelli’s ‘Minor Seventh Heaven’ has a neat upward motif and features the first of many resolute, Zoot-like solos by Stelluti, clearly a player of character. Thinking swing, there’s ‘Stompin’ At The Savoy’ which gives the lead role to the tenorman’s son, bassist Stelluti, another musician who performs well throughout. Baritone saxist Chris Riccitelli handles Leroy Anderson’s ‘Serenata’, with real aplomb, his dad’s arrangement neatly made, his sound veering more towards Mulligan rather than Pepper, while trombonist Bonvissuto, who impresses every time he pops up, gets ‘Darn That Dream’ entirely to himself. Trumpeter Drewes, a top New York studio man, is best heard on Riccitelli’s Silver-like ‘Blues Dominant’, a chunky piece which moves well and gives everyone a blow. The addition of Tommy Newson’s Evans-style reading of ‘Maids of Cadiz’, rounds out this unexpected treat. Now will someone exhume that earlier album, which featured the late Eddie Bert on trombone, and let us hear it?