You may not be familiar with reed man Gene Cipriano, warmly referred to as "Cip," but chances are you may have heard him play on the radio, TV, film, awards programs and other venues. Cip is the consummate professional musician well known in the Los Angeles recording business who has an extensive resume spanning decades yet always being comfortable playing in the shadows eschewing the limelight. Well First Time Out is his debut album as leader and what a debut it is. Cipriano is a versatile musician who plays a variety of reed instruments. On this recording he plays the tenor saxophone, the clarinet and the English horn.
This first offering is a double CD of twenty well-known American standards highlighting Cipriano’s talents as he plays straight-ahead, big band and swing styles of music. The cadre of musicians gracing this album include many of the most in-demand musicians in the L.A. area including such luminaries as altoists Dan Higgins and Gary Foster, bassist Trey Henry, pianist and producer Tom Ranier, tenorist Pete Christlieb, trumpeters Rick Baptist and Warren Luening, trombonists Charlie Loper and Andy Martin, just to name a few.
The music is simply superb; there’s just nothing here not to like. Cip demonstrates his ample talents on the sax laying down nice solo passages throughout. Some notable cuts include the Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Mercer classic "I Thought About You," also containing delicious piano runs by Ranier. There are three slow ballads where Cipriano employs a full string section and they are "Don’t Take Your Love From Me," "Out of Nowhere", and "Nature Boy." The disc is replete with fine beautiful slow tempo music.
On the swinging side Cip records a masterpiece with "Four Brothers," a big band number arranged by Tom Ranier and conducted by the legendary Sammy Nestico. The piece includes stylish solos by Higgins, Sal Lozano on the baritone and others in one lively swinging tune. Staying in the swinging mode, Cip shines on such tunes as "Sunday," "Just Friends" and the wild and spicy "Lover Come Back To Me," featuring a strong performance by tenor man Pete Christlieb. For this listener the best piece of music on this album has to be the Rogers and Hart "Where Or When," where Cipriano is joined by Dan Higgins on alto in one sensational performance of a very romantic love song.
For being the First Time Out as leader, Gene Cipriano has captured one warm and unforgettable session of jazz for all to enjoy. Can’t say enough about this album, only that I wish there were more to come.