Criscuolo's 'Blippity Blat' hits No. 14 on the jazz charts

Local restaurateur and composer Matthew Criscuolo has found another bout of musical success with his latest release, an album of progressive jazz titled Blippity Blat.

Rising to No. 14 on the JazzWeek Jazz Album Chart for the week of Feb. 10, it represents the second of his albums to reach the charts. But, Mr. Criscuolo says he doesn’t approach his music hoping to hit the charts.

“It’s flattering. At least it lets me know the radio programmers like what they are hearing, but I don’t do it for that reason,” he said at Wilton Pizza on Friday. “It’s inspiring and it’s flattering, but the purpose is to document the composition of some songs I wrote, and to document where I am at improvisationally.”

Mr. Criscuolo owns Wilton Pizza, Bistro 7, and Toozy Patza Pizza in Wilton, and Piccolo Pizza in Ridgefield.

Two songs on the album are new creations, Mr. Criscuolo said, but the rest are tracks he had written in the past. The new tracks are Blippity Blat, and Shuckin’ the Cob.

“It wasn’t like I had a concept for the record and developed songs off of that,” he said. “A lot of these are actually old songs. I kind of blew the dust off them, and decided to bring them into the studio.”

Mr. Criscuolo said his new album is an example of “modern, post be-bop jazz that puts a premium on pushing the art of the saxophone forward. I have played homage to the greats for a long time. But this is new and inventive and authentic,” he said.

Rather than focus energy on defining its style, however, Mr. Criscuolo said he hopes his newest album expands upon his personal development as a player.

“I’ve been trying to develop and bring out my own unique voice,” he said. “It takes years to learn what not to play, actually.”

The restaurant owner composes the majority of his tracks at home, he said, and likens the creation of a good jazz record to a chef putting his own energy into a dish.

“Linguini Bolognese is technically the same ingredients every time, but when you have a talented chef, he’s going to inject himself into that dish. There has to be a certain amount of love there,” he said. “That’s like playing music. Every night you’re playing, your essence has to come through in that music.”

Blippity Blat’s cover art was designed and produced by Mr. Criscuolo’s son, Wilton High School freshman Julian Criscuolo. The cover is a “lyrical and thematic” piece that offers its audience a glimpse into its process of creation, the musician said.