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November 2004

Peter Cincotti
On the Moon
Concord Records

At this point in his still very young career, Peter Cincotti is rather like the Elvis to Jamie Cullum's Beatles. Among the current spate of post-Connick crooners, an impressive crowd that also includes Ian Shaw and Matt Dusk, the 21-year-old New Yorker was the obvious frontrunner until Cullum's one-man British invasion created a media storm that seemingly left Cincotti in the residual dust. But like Elvis, who ultimately managed to recover from the Fab Four's tidal wave, coming back stronger and more musically dynamic in the late '60s, Cincotti's still standing and, as his sophomore studio release attests, growing increasingly assured and interesting.

Effectively straddling the line between the bespoke hipsterism of Connick, his mentor and hero, and the postmillennial cool of Cullum, Cincotti opens with a blistering "St. Louis Blues" charged with the same sort of Gen Y energy as the cleverly updated "I Could Have Danced All Night" from Cullum's Twentysomething. He then segues back to Connick territory for a feather-light rendition of the old Drifters hit "Some Kind of Wonderful" and an "I Love Paris" that, conjuring velvety nights and stolen back-alley clinches, oozes Continental sexiness. His "Bali Ha'i" is appropriately, bewitchingly dark. "You Don't Know Me," whether intended as a tribute to Ray Charles or not, effectively echoes the sweet ache of Brother Ray's classic version while adding a hint of postadolescent hopefulness.

Of the CD's four original compositions, the dreamy title track works best (the more traditional love songs-"The Girl for Me Tonight" and "I'd Rather Be With You"-are solid but pedestrian, perhaps reflecting Cincotti's tender age), while "He's Watching," presumably a loving nod to Cincotti's late father, is understandably the most sincerely heartfelt.

On the Moon's real surprise, though, is a nonvocal rendition of "Cherokee," arranged by Cincotti. It suggests a superb melange of Connick and Oscar Peterson, and it proves than Peter the pianist has as bright a future as Peter the singer.

Originally published in November 2004
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