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What Others Are Saying
On Drummer Boy
"I've heard a lot of Christmas themed albums over the years, all churning out the somewhat limited selection of classic holiday tunes to choose from. However, I found Drummer Boy to be unique and very refreshing in that there was a pleasant blend of styles, improvisation and production quality. The musicians were able to express themselves within the jazz art-form in such a way that makes the music accessible to all audiences in a variety of listening settings. For drum fans, there is a lot of great drumming from Craig pilo — no surprises there. There is also percussion programming on just about each track. Although often times extremely subtle in the mix, it makes the instrumental trio sound amazingly larger than they truly are. Drummer Boy is sure to be a nice addition to anyone's Christmas music collection."
(Bart Elliott, Drummer Cafe) Read entire review
"Craig Pilo's new Christmas album Drummer Boy rekindles all of those memories for those of us who have been lucky enough to experience them during our lifetime and for those who get to cherish those moments in the here and now. This is not your everyday Christmas record. In the fifty-eight Christmases that this writer has experienced there have not been many Christmas records that can match this one. Make room in your Christmas album collection now for Drummer Boy by Craig Pilo."
(Joe Montague, Riveting Riffs Magazine)
"Drummer Craig Pilo who debuted his solo Jazz album Just Play four years ago has upped the ante with his newest release Unsupervised, a beautiful masterpiece that is breathtaking, and yes those are a lot of superlatives in the same sentence, but the praise is well deserved. From the opening song, Keith Jarrett’s “Spiral Dance,” led by Jim King’s emotive upright bass playing and Ed Czach’s piano, the listener senses that this is no ordinary instrumental collection of songs. Saxophonist Bill Esparaza serves up a killer solo.
"Craig Pilo’s versatility and keen sensibilities as a drummer have long been appreciated by musical luminaries such as, Maynard Ferguson, Edgar Winter, Frankie Valli, Pat Boone, Player and Billy Vera and Unsupervised is a testament to why that is the case.
"This writer is not a huge fan of some of the Jazz Fusion, which occasionally emerges from drummers who are wailing on their drum kit and cymbals so hard that you get the impression they are retaliating against a mugger however, that is not the type of Jazz Fusion to which Craig Pilo treats his listeners. The mood Pilo creates is seductive and romantic. We often talk about phrasing when discussing the performances of very good vocalists and seldom do we use that term when talking about musicians, yet for the players on Unsupervised it is very appropriate to talk in those terms, for they play with emotion and they evoke a strong emotional response from the listener. The arrangements created by Craig Pilo allow them to linger and to have fun, as appears to be what Czach, Pilo and King are doing on Craig Pilo’s delicious original song “HGH.” The arrangement plays out almost as though it is an open section during a live performance.
"Pilo’s drumming picks up the pace and drives the Stevie Wonder song “As,” which features Angela Carole Brown and Brandon Brigham on vocals. Although Craig Pilo’s drumsticks are more active and the tom drums and cymbals are much more evident, the playing stays smooth and Ed Czach and Craig Pilo present a fabulous mid-tempo performance, with Jim King’s bass once again providing the foundation for this song.
"The second of four Craig Pilo original compositions, “One A Day,” segues between being reflective and spritely and the ambience is that of a cozy club, with good acoustics and an intimate feel.
"The song selection for Unsupervised is very good, because there are enough mood changes to keep the listener engaged and yet they are not so disparate from one another as to leave the collection of songs without an identity. In producing this album, Pilo has left his fellow musicians plenty of room to shine, as evidenced with Jose Bertrami’s “Partido Alto,” which showcases Bill Esparaza on saxophone.
"It never ceases to amaze me how good bassists use their fingers to make those strings talk and Jim King does just that on another scrumptious and upbeat original “One For DLS.” Czach, King and Pilo have played together for many years and that is easy to detect, as their instruments flow perfectly together and the musicians complement each other well.
"Pilo borrows from David Leonhardt with “Whispers Of Contentment,” Billy Cobham (“Stratus”), Randy Brecker’s “Some Skunk Funk,” which closes the album and features Rick Baptist on trumpet and Mitchel Forman on keys. The fourth Craig Pilo original song is “Mulberry Sky.”
Unsupervised by Craig Pilo is an exquisite work of art."
(Joe Montague, Riveting Riffs Magazine)
On Just Play
"Pilo is a pro drummer (Frankie Valli, Maynard Ferguson) whose solo jazz project features a group of adept musicians on his original themes (and choice covers). Pilo allows his Fender Rhodes player to shine on the mellow "Early Cynical Mystery." His bassist and sax player groove with skill and feel on "Shades of Blue." Pilo's pounding drums take center stage on "Awkwardly Mobile." This disc will please listeners who've got a taste for hard jazz and impressive musicianship."
(Los Angeles Music Connection Magazine - Oct 2007 issue)
"A highly dynamic jazz fusion atmosphere filled with positive energy. 'Just Play' showcases the work of an experimented musician whose bold personality is evident throughout the album. There are many wonderful sequences of vigorous, colorful jamming not to mention the excellent bass and organ grooves that make the music float around. Among the highlights "'Early Cynical Mystery' one of the originals, brings a breeze from the 'Return to Forever' years and Coltrane's 'Miles Mode' here cleverly arranged by Craig Pilo. An entertaining album of great clarity and power for fusion enthusiasts."
(Jazz World Quest)
"Tight, yet fluent stick work, and a yen for selecting great tunes and accompanists. This just about sums up drummer Craig Pilo on his latest CD effort, 'Just Play.' Moving well beyond tired arrangements and re-treaded licks, Pilo covers a few classic standards such as 'Autumn Leaves,' 'All Blues' and 'Teen Town,' giving them novel readings. Craig’s pen is also in the spotlight on well-written pieces such as 'Early Cynical Mystery.' His mastery of sundry styles and meters shines through and there’s chemistry galore with the likes of featured keyboardist, the stellar Mitchel Forman, as well as saxophonist Roman Dudok."
(John Stevenson, Ejazznews)