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Peter Cincotti Brings Jazz into the Modern Era

Mar 09, 2017 04:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds

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By: Aaron Kilbourne

Humans require three bare essentials in order to live: food, water, and air. Peter Cincotti however, requires five: food, water, air, singing, and piano playing. Cincotti blends melody and rhythm with his dynamic vocals in the same ease with which others breathe or blink. His jazz/blues/pop inspired style sticks to the ear drums and refuses to be easily forgotten.

Peter Cincotti began playing piano as a young child and his passion for it has yet to cease. Being a tenacious born and bred New Yorker, Cincotti spent much of his childhood playing night clubs while attending school. One night, legendary music producer Phil Ramone walked into the same club and saw the talent overflowing from Cincotti onto the piano. This discovery would lead Ramone to produce Peter’s self-titled debut album which reached No. 1 on the Billboard jazz charts, making 18-year old Cincotti the youngest artist ever to do so.

After a meteoric rise like that what else could one do? A lot if you are Peter Cincotti. He has since, performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall, collaborated with artists like David Guetta, and appeared as himself in season three of the hit Netflix series House of Cards, singing a duet with the president played by Kevin Spacey. 

Despite these extracurriculars, Cincotti’s focus has always been his music. 16-time Grammy winner David Foster produced Cincotti’s third album, East of Angel Town, yielding the song “Goodbye Philadelphia”, which became a smash hit in Europe.

Now Cincotti is set to release his fifth album, Long Way from Home, later this year. ​Fans should be especially excited for this release as Cincotti has taken it upon himself to write, arrange, and produce the album. This level of focused creation is sure to yield a musical experience that is purely Cincotti.

Peter Cincotti will be performing at Rams Head On Stage Friday, March 10th, 7 p.m. Tickets are $29.50.

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I’ve read that you have been playing the piano since early childhood. In regards to honing your craft as you got older, you’ve stated “I consciously walked the line of learning more, and learning too much. The minute it gets too cerebral, it’s over.” Does focusing too much on the mechanics or techniques of piano playing potentially take away from the artistry and expression of the instrument?

I can only speak for myself, but I find that it can. For me not just the piano playing aspect of what I do, but music and writing as a whole. Sometimes I don’t want to understand the musical mechanics behind an idea, and just write the idea, in a more musically ignorant space. A lot of my songs have been written this way actually, away from the piano, away from “music”, “zoning out”, etc. Then when the time is right and the inspiration is over, I focus in on the musical details.


You are obviously an incredibly talented pianist and vocalist. Do you play other instruments or have ever wanted to learn a specific one?

I’ve had moments when I was younger where I wanted to try the guitar and saxophone, but they were fleeting and I soon realized there’s a never-ending amount of things to learn at the piano alone. Having said that, I love playing keyboards and using electronic sounds, which I did quite a bit of while producing my current album. I have a weakness for always wanting to play synth bass. I love synth bass. 

You were discovered in quite an amazing way. Phil Ramone sees you perform at a nightclub and then produces your debut album. Could you tell me what it was like working with Phil Ramone, one of the late greats of the music industry?

You’re right, it was amazing. Working with Phil for my first album right out of the gate kind of threw me into a different stratosphere, suddenly surrounded by the best in the field, not only him, but the people around him, studio engineers, and so on. It brought the best out of me, and it also set the bar in a lot of ways going forward.

What has been your favorite accomplishment outside of a traditional music career of touring and releasing albums?

Well, outside of music, I would say that becoming an honorary citizen of Cervinara, Italy is something I’m very moved by and proud of. Cervinara is a small town outside of Naples which is where my family came from when they migrated from Italy at the early part of the 20th century. A couple years ago, I went back and performed there and they gave me a welcome that I will never forget. 

I’ve read you worked on a play with your sister, Pia Cincotti. How was writing music for that medium different than writing a song for one of your albums?

Pia is a playwright and has been trying to get me to write a musical for some time now. In between my third and fourth album, I finally did and we collaborated for the first time writing a show called How Deep Is The Ocean, and I was surprisingly hooked. Theater was never a medium I imagined myself writing in, but it turned out to be quite the opposite and we are now currently in development with two more musicals in NY. I’m very excited about continuing down this road. There is really nothing quite like writing for characters and musicalizing pivotal moments in a story. 

You are set to release a new full-length album this year entitled, Long Way from Home. What was it like creating something of this magnitude with limited input from other creative minds?

It was awesome, but also a bit insane, because I literally did everything, some tasks I wish to never do again! Having said that, it was incredibly freeing and it definitely “unlocked” something that will forever change the way I write and record music. Having the tools to professionally record an idea at high quality the minute it is born in your mind, can allow you to capture a new level of authenticity that was impossible to grasp before. 

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What message or ideas do you intend audiences to receive from Long Way from Home?

Well this album is loaded with messages and ideas, and also questions, which I am more interested in posing than answering. From an artistic standpoint, that’s the beauty of creating anything really, so people can experience it in their own unique way. 

What can audiences expect from a live show that just cannot be translated when listening to Peter Cincotti at home?

A lot. I can sincerely say that the album is one thing and the live show is another. The minute these songs are taken on stage, particularly this album, which involves a lot of piano playing, it becomes a different thing – a living and breathing animal that always behaves differently. The songs live within their “habitat” so to speak, but there is an excitement of the unknown in every song and in every solo that just can’t be replicated anywhere else. 

What’s next for Peter Cincotti? A big tour to coincide with the new album release or will we see you in the Whitehouse again via the new season of House of Cards?

Well I’m always ready to go back to the White House and sing with President Spacey. But, until then I will be on the road quite a bit, so check my website for all tour dates. You can follow me on Instagram @petercincotti for more inside looks on what I’m up to in the studio, on the road, and sometimes, depending on how many drinks I’ve had, before I go to sleep.