It’s been a while since I could say that I enjoyed an album by a jazz pianist. For some reason, they all have blended into the miasma that is “elevator music.” John Carozza is the first in a very long time to rise above the din for me in this realm.
What seems like a million years ago now, I played in a jazz band. Back then, I was constantly listening to jazz, both classic and modern. One of my favorite groups was Spyro Gyra, which had a way of arranging music so that the melody was never lost in the shuffle, even among all the percussion, horns, and keyboards. Vince Guaraldi is another artist whose work I admired. Though I played alto sax, Guaraldi’s piano would filter into my consciousness a few times a year through the ever present Charlie Brown television specials.
When I listened to Defining Moment, I was immediately struck by the depth of the melodies, arrangements that made me pause, and the passion in every phrase. This is a powerful album that evokes a myriad of emotions, from stopping to smell the roses to the moment when things just go right.
Not new to the music scene, Carrozza has played with some jazz greats, including Earl Klugh. Carrozza contributed to two singles on Klugh’s Grammy-nominated album The Spice of Life. His style is definitely worth taking a listen to.
The first two tracks on the EP, the title track “Defining Moment” and “Prodigal’s Return,” get the album off with a bang. You can tell he’s comfortable with a piano but has a good feel for other accompaniment. Each track builds beautifully but never loses the main theme that’s apparent throughout each song.
The next two, “Reflections” and “Something I Said,” have a more romantic feel to them with a slower pace. Though I have to say I typically prefer more energetic songs, these were nice tracks that even with the slowed pace still managed to avoid the “elevator music” feel.
And then “The Promise” hits me as one heck of a wedding song. With the accoustic guitar blending into simple percussion and keyboards, it never gets ahead of itself and yet finds time to build. I could almost hear the duet between two people very in love as the song went on. The soft accoustic guitar throughout reminded me of Spyro Gyra’s “Del Corazon” from my favorite Spyro album, Stories Without Words.
Ultimately this EP left me wanting to hear more from Carrozza. He has a rare gift for performing and composing compelling smooth jazz music that should garner him many more fans. Check out Defining Moment online at Napster and iTunes. You can also check it out online at last.fm here.
p.s. Carrozza was nice enough to contact me directly and let me know he’s working on a full-length album in the studio, so hopefully we’ll hear more from this talented musician soon!