Picks and Pans Review: Peter Cincotti

updated 05/12/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/12/2003 01:00AM

Peter Cincotti (Concord)

Nineteen-year-old jazz singer-pianist Peter Cincotti is a new and improved version of Harry Connick Jr. The precocious Columbia University sophomore is all the singer and twice the piano player Connick is, without all the look-how-cool-I-am attitude. With his fluid vocal and piano style, Cincotti is actually more reminiscent of the great Nat "King" Cole. On this noteworthy debut, he even tips his hat to Cole with a stirring rendition of "Nature Boy," weaving in piano fills that evoke a similarly haunting tune, the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill." Working with Billy Joel's longtime producer Phil Ramone, Cincotti shifts between well-chosen standards like the 1957 Billie Holiday chestnut "Comes Love" and more mediocre original tunes that he co-wrote with his mother, Cynthia (whose amateurish lyrics are a downside). Cincotti even pulls off an ingenious instrumental version of Blood, Sweat and Tears' "Spinning Wheel."

BOTTOM LINE: An artist to get jazzed about

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