Richie Cannata – Richie Cannata

Mar. 20, 2012

You can almost imagine saxman Richie Cannata saying to himself “It’s my turn” for he is not only a great sax player but also an accomplished music producer.  He has produced albums for Phoebe Snow, Rita Coolidge, Corey Hart, and Tommy Shaw.  His own Cove City Sound Studios (co-owned with his son Eren) is a favorite for major headliner names.  One of the most recent was Jennifer Lopez for her hit song “On the Floor.” 

With all the freshness, cool, and originality that has come to draw me to “new” and exciting artists like Cannata time and time again, this self-titled debut by the saxman speaks loud, clear, and with depth. His tenor sax has attitude and a story to tell, and does it ever tell it.

Working with all original material and renowned Spyro Gyra guitarist Julio Fernandez — who co-produced the project and co-wrote many of the tracks with him — Cannata lays into such tracks as the mid-tempo funky lead track, “Keep It in the Pocket,” the up-tempo and equally funky “Open Road,” with such fervor and beckoning that it’s next to impossible for your soul to resist the call to respond. Then, there’s the expressive “Great South Bay,” surely able to convince you that his sax is singing lyrics rather than simply playing notes. The exotic flavor and swagger of the laid back “Living For the Moment,” (which is the only track he performs on soprano sax) with its island touch is more than a bit satisfying.

So many of the great contemporary jazz albums today include at least a hint of some Latin influence. In Cannata’s case, it comes in the form of a rousing “Para Ti.” Bailamos!

All in all, here are ten superbly produced and played tracks that stand out individually, and many could be touted as a radio single in my opinion.

The ease with which Cannata expresses himself through his music is most inspiring, and his sax runs are truly impressive, joining the likes of Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Eric Marienthal, and a whole host of other truly magnificent sax players in further reassuring us that contemporary jazz and blues (check out a mean version of the latter on “Shuff”) continue to thrive in abundance.  For that, we must be eternally grateful.  – Ronald Jackson