John Cocuzzi review…May 11, 2015…

JOHN COCUZZI

DING DONG DADDY

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ER 1504-20

SWANEE RIVER BOOGIE–RECONSIDER BABY–DING DONG DADDY–THAT’S ALRIGHT–JUST CALL ME–COME SUNDAY–BALLIN’ THE JACK–NINA NEVER KNEW–KAMBUCHA BOOGIE–YOU DO SOMETHING TO ME–THE BOSS–TENNESSEE WALTZ–THEY SAY IT’S WONDERFUL

John Cocuzzi is a hugely-talented singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist.  He normally wows the crowds in the Sacramento, CA, area, but for his latest CD for EllerSoul Records, he made the two-thousand mile trek to nearby Franklin, TN, at the Rock House studio, with the venerable Kevin McKendree producing.  The result is “Ding Dong Daddy,” thirteen cuts of swingin’ blues and jazz.

For John, the swing is sho’ nuff the thing.  As well as piano, he is adept on drums and a monster vibraphonist, and he struts his considerable stuff over the course of this set, which has plenty of straight blues, piano boogies, and vibe-driven instrumentals.  He kicks off with one of our perennial favorites, the “Swanee River Boogie.”  He and the band really get into the groove John lays down on the vibraphone instrumentals,  from the title cut down thru “You Do Something To Me,” “The Boss,” and the subdued “Come Sunday.”  All these feature clarinet or sax from Dan Levinson.

John hits a New Orleans stride with “Ballin The Jack,” then plays a great, torch-y, tale of the first flowerings of a budding love affair, “Nina Never Knew.”  John’s father, Frank, who plays drums throughout, is the featured vocalist on the set-closer, the sweet standard “They Say It’s Wonderful.”

We had favorites aplenty.  You can’t go wrong with John’s slowed-tempo “Tennessee Waltz.”  He gets down to the bidness of the blues with a cool read on “Reconsider Baby,”  with Kevin McKendree on acoustic guitar.  The “Kambucha Boogie” is a humorous look at a way to “rejuvenate your system” with a “health juice” that is reminiscent of (and probably 100 proof, as well!) getting a shot of Hadacol from our youth.  And, society’s dependence upon cellular telephones, whether a necessity or not, is the tongue-in-cheek “Call Me.”

John Cocuzzi has been dubbed a true “Gentleman Of Jazz” by iconic jazz drummer Louis Bellson.  He’s got mad skills on a vast array of instruments, and you get a taste of ’em all from this “Ding Dong Daddy.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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