Matt Criscuolo: When In Rome


When In Rome


Matt Criscuolo (alto sax)


Melancholia (M Records Matt-1001)

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Matt Criscuolo (alto sax), Larry Willis (piano, string arrangements), Billy Drummond (drums), Dave Teggar (cello), Rachel Golub (violin), Whitney LaGrange (violin), Julie Goodale (viola).

Composed by Matt Criscuolo.


Recorded: Carriage House Studios, Stamford, Connecticut. Released in 2009.


Rating: 87/100 (learn more)

Anything subtitled “with strings” is going to take me back to that iconic Charlie Parker record. And though that is a fantastic album, my favorite horn/strings combination comes from the work that Ornette Coleman did with Howard Shore on the soundtrack to Naked Lunch. The surreal quality of the film was definitely enhanced by Ornette's spikey lines set against the more controlled strings.

“When In Rome” seems to take the middle road, with the spikes smoothed out quite a bit, but with far more romance than Ornette brought to bear (romance emanating from the main melodic instrument in that movie would have been over the top weird). The composition begins with the strings playing a circular, almost Philip Glass-like figure. Over this Criscuolo lays out the theme. What at first seems like a simple case of the horn playing over changes gradually shifts into a subtle call and response pattern, with Criscuolo taking a solo and the strings respond in kind.

“With strings” seems like such an old-fashioned idea. Somehow, this particular tracks comes off as quite modern. Great stuff.

Reviewer: Mark Saleski


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