Jazz Singer, Pianist Peter Cincotti to perform April 4 in CFA

By David Wedekindt

Release Date: February 27, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Center for the Arts will present a performance by Peter Cincotti at 8 p.m. April 4 in the Mainstage theater located in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. The concert is co-sponsored by WBFO-FM.

Our culture easily embraces teenage divas and the latest wave of boy bands, but 19-year-old jazz phenomenons seem to be a divine quirk of musical nature. Pianist and singer Peter Cincotti is a sophomore at Columbia University in New York City who just happens to be on the verge of an extraordinary recording career that could bring pure jazz to a whole new audience, beginning with his self-titled Concord Records debut, which was produced by the legendary Phil Ramone. Ramone calls Peter "the freshest old soul to come along in ages," and his wise-beyond-his-years vocal and ivory styles are sure to help link his generation to the glorious history of the jazz legends that have inspired him.

In the Spring of 2001, Cincotti was the youngest performer ever to play New York's famed Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel. Following his history-making Algonquin performance, he piqued the interest of the New York glitterati. Regis Philbin described him on national TV as "phenomenal," and renowned critic Rex Reed declared, "this much talent, polish and virtuosity in a teenager may not even be legal."

Born and raised in Manhattan, Cincotti started tinkering with a toy piano at age three, then graduated to the real thing a year or so later. He realizes he's probably one of only a few sophomores at Columbia whose Walkman blasts Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.

"I don't remember one specific moment when I said, 'that's it, I'm going to be a jazz musician,'" he says. "I went through many different musical stage beginning with boogie-woogie piano playing, and I was exposed to all different kinds of music from Blood, Sweat and Tears, to Bill Evans."

At the age of nine, Cincotti began composing, and in his mid-teens, took up singing. He soon became a quadruple threat: pianist, singer, composer and arranger. Over the next several years, he studied with jazz piano masters such as Ellis Marsalis and James Williams.

While still in school, Peter played in jazz clubs throughout Manhattan, starred in the off-Broadway hit Our Sinatra, participated in the National Grammy Band, was honored in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for his fiery composition "Big Bad Daddy," and was invited to perform at the White House. He also won a coveted award at the Montreux 2000 Jazz Festival in Switzerland for his piano rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia." Despite such critical accolades and worldwide media exposure, Peter humbly sums up his dizzy rise to stardom: "I'm so grateful that I am able to play for people who want to listen. There is so much to learn, and there's so much I want to do, and I can only hope I have the opportunity to do it all."

Tickets for Peter Cincotti are $22 for the general public, and $18 for UB students. Tickets are available from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Center Box Office and at all Ticketmaster locations, including Kaufmann's. To charge tickets, call 852-5000; in Canada, call 416-870-8000. For group sales, call 645-6771. For more information, call 645-ARTS. The Center for the Arts is a Ticketfast location.