Toronto Star Thursday May 15, 1997
Geoff Chapman
Following the lead of the Great One
Jazz guitarist David Occhipinti is inspired by . . . Wayne Gretzky.
Sure, the 30-year-old Toronto native has other mentors, like the brilliant American Jim Hall with whom he studied in New York, but the Canadian hockey great too?
``I really got a kick out of his book Gretzky. He showed a real dedication to hockey and I try to be as dedicated with my music.''
This unusual source of ideas results in a tune called ``The Great One'' on his exciting, self-titled debut CD that was officially launched last night at the Senator, where his band plays through Sunday, while ``Study Hall'' is a nod to the teaching skills of Hall, ``who changed the way I listen to music. He's been a huge influence.''
The CD, already getting good air play, features 10 original compositions for quartet, trio and solo workouts. ``I feel I'm a composer as well as a guitarist'' Occhipinti said, ``and I was keen to get lots of variety on the album. Like ``Winter-time,'' where I separated the strings with picks, used overdubs and prepared guitar sounds but there's lots of in and out things elsewhere.''
There's plenty to enjoy on the disc, recorded with rare clarity in January, notably the strong contributions from colleagues Dave Restivo (piano), Kevin Dempsey (drums) and Jim Vivian (bass). ``There's lots of interplay, especially between Jim and I. I feed off him a lot,'' says Occhipinti, who last year was one winner of Jazziz magazine's ``Guitars On Fire'' contest.
Other highlights on this intelligent, passionate CD that spans jazz and new music that surely puts him in the top ranks of Toronto's massed guitar army are the fascinating solo take ``Iceberg,'' the great counter-statements on ``And This Means War'' and ``Tower Images,'' which has both melancholic and thrilling moments and is dedicated to his artist-wife, Mascia Manunza, whose painting is the album's cover art.
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