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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Groove Merchant

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19417



1. Groove Merchant
2. Crazy Rhythm
3. Dream Dancing
4. The Glory of Love
5. How Am I to Know
6. Tenderly
7. Minor Drag
8. Mellow Guitar
9. Did I Remember?
10. Last Night on the Back Porch (I Loved Her Most of All)
11. Je Ne Sais Pa
12. What'll I Do?
13. Lover

John Cocuzzi - Vibes, vocals
Antti Sarpila - Clarinet, soprano sax
John Sheridan - Piano
James Chirillo - Guitar
Frank Tate - Bass
Joe Ascione - Drums, djembe, shakers

You can't be too bad a player if Louie Bellson hires you to play at his wedding reception. That's what happened to John Cocuzzi, who is apparently a popular person to book for parties. This album suggests the sort of cheerful music that John might provide to create a happy mood.

Cocuzzi is a vibes player somewhat similar to Lionel Hampton, with touches of Red Norvo. He is joined in the front line by the very experienced reedman Antti Sarpila. Sarpila is equally adept on the clarinet and the soprano saxophone. His clarinet blends with Cocuzzi's vibes in such tunes as Did I Remember? to create a sound reminiscent of Benny Goodman's small groups. And he plays the soprano sax with none of the edginess that bedevils other soprano players. Just sample his smooth but punchy playing in a tune like Fats Waller's Minor Drag.

John Sheridan and James Chirillo supply useful backing and solos. John Cocuzzi is a generous bandleader, allowing his sidemen plenty of solo space. The repertoire is well-chosen, mixing familiar standards with lesser-known tunes like Mellow Guitar and Je Ne Sais Pa (composed by Lionel Hampton and Hank Jones). John Cocuzzi sings on a couple of tracks but his vocals are nothing to write home about. However, his group produces delicately-spun sounds which are equally suitable for dancing or late-night listening.

Tony Augarde

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