Music » Music Reviews

The Pickle Mafia serves up mercurial jazz grooves on 'Pass the Gabagool'


Fresh off its Rochester International Jazz Festival debut in June, the Rochester piano trio known as The Pickle Mafia is a confirmed force in local jazz music. But the band’s moniker, as well as the title of its first full-length album — “Pass the Gabagool” out now on Spotify — indicates that pianist Charlie Lindner, bassist Ben Chilbert, and drummer Marco Cirigliano have doubled down on the silly while laying down some serious, easy-listening licks.

Engineered and mastered by Austin DePalma, “Pass the Gabagool” delivers engaging elevator music, in the best possible sense of the term. What makes it work is that Lindner and company never shy away from their gut instinct to be mercurial.

The album kicks off with the lively “Trio de Janeiro,” a samba-inspired jaunt that flits between different time signatures and showcases Linder’s affinity for tight, concise melodies that waste no time getting stuck in your head.

Cirigliano’s awe-inspiring facility on the drums also gets plenty of shine on the opening number, as he unleashes a drum solo overflowing with tricky syncopations.

Lindner knows he has an absolute ace percussionist in Cirigliano, which I imagine explains why the drummer has another solo on the very next track, “The Dill Standard.” Not only is the title on-brand for both Lindner’s trio and his pickle company of the same name, the music is similarly charismatic as it transitions from sauntering blues to break-neck swing.

There are also beautiful moments in which the album ushers listeners into a dream state with songs such as the piano interlude “A Glimpse Into a Crystal Ball” and “Tale o' the Pub.” The latter is a master class in The Pickle Mafia’s greatest strength: groovability. Chilbert’s seductive bass line provides the firm foundation that makes the music so satisfying.

The most traditional-sounding part of “Pass the Gabagool” comes at its end, with the rainy-day ballad “Wynton’s Waltz.” But not before Cirigliano pounds his way through a third drum solo, perfectly named “The Malfunctioning Thunderstorm,” and Lindner provides dizzying organ sounds on “Flying Pineapple.”

On “Pass the Gabagool” The Pickle Mafia proves itself to be both accessible and sufficiently complex. Lindner tosses just enough of a pop sensibility into the brine of his compositions to create a tangy concoction of familiar harmonies and hyperactive beats.

The Pickle Mafia will perform its album-release show Oct. 7 at Tournedos Steakhouse at The Inn on Broadway. The sit-down concert comes with a pickle-pairing dinner because, of course it does. For emerging details, check back at

Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He can be reached at [email protected].