Connecticut Magazine Features Crispin Cioe
In an article written by Pat Grandjean, Saxophonist Crispin Cioe is featured in Connecticut Magazine First Person. The renowned saxist has a lengthy discography, has played on more than 300 albums, and has performed with a constellation of rock stars, R&B legends, and pop icons including The Rolling Stones.
The Connecticut Magazine text of the First Person feature is copied below.
Crispin Cioe is Connecticut Magazine First Person
Talk about six degrees of separation: Ask Westport’s Crispin Cioe, 59, about any big name in popular music and chances are he’s worked with them. The Rolling Stones? Performed with ’em to the tune of 120 dates on the band’s massive “Steel Wheels” tour. “I don’t think it’s widely known what serious musicologists they are,” he says. Tom Waits? Cioe played saxophone on Rain Dogs, considered to be Waits’ best disc. “I still get kids walking up to me who want to talk about that album. It’s amazing that someone whose style is so raw writes songs with such universal potential.” James Brown? You’ll hear him on “Living in America,” the Godfather of Soul’s hugest later-career hit. R.E.M., the J. Geils Band, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Bette Midler, Ray Charles? Yup.
Most of these celebrity collaborations over the last 20-plus years have featured his quartet the Uptown Horns, assembled in the early ’80s. These days, Cioe is just as jazzed about Cracked Ice — the name comes from a 1950s tune by Earl Bostic — a septet initially established as a high-caliber “party” band (playing weddings and other events internationally). “Though I’ve been told it’s unorthodox, my mission was to create a group that approached parties with the same level of commitment to great music as any artist would bring to performing at Madison Square Garden,” he says.
To that end, the group features accomplished New York City sessioners like vocalists Brent Carter (who’s worked with B.B. King) and Susan D. (Wilson Pickett, David Byrne), and keyboardist Charlie Giordano (who accompanied Bruce Springsteen on last year’s “Seeger Sessions” tour). Repertoire-wise, Cracked Ice reflects Cioe’s lifelong love of roots music, soul and R&B. “I’m exploring soul music with a more modern sound, in the tradition of Junior Walker, Michael Brecker, and David Sanborn,” he says.
With the release of its first CD, Soul Noir, Cracked Ice may also be on the road to establishing itself as a recording band, known for its original songs. Available online at iTunes and CD Baby, the disc has already attracted attention in the South, thanks to the popularity of the song “That’s My Story” with the “shag”-dancing, “beach music” crowd of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. “I was told by some friends down there that we should do a DJ version of the song, which we did, and it’s become a chart hit,” Cioe says. “Since then, we’ve been invited to play the region, and I’ve been alerted to a couple of other songs that might be similar hits.”
“Closer to home (Cioe shares his with wife Krista Bradford and their daughter, Katie), Cracked Ice is planning an “official” release party for Soul Noir at the Fairfield Theater Company on Oct. 19. Says Cioe, “At this point in my life, to have my own band that I can write for-to be able to focus on my own expression-well, that’s something I don’t take lightly.”