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The Pickle Mafia combines jazz, funk, and R&B for 'A Night to Remember'


Pickles may not be an aphrodisiac, but they’re an integral part of pianist Charlie Lindner’s latest romantic release with his Rochester jazz trio, The Pickle Mafia. What makes a successful date night? For this crew, rounded out by drummer Marco Cirigliano and bassist Ben Chilbert, the answer lies in piano explorations, relentless grooves, and flexible kit work, all in service of one unforgettable musical evening.

The trio divides its latest EP, “a night to remember,” into four distinct vignettes that paint an impressionistic portrait of, well, a memorable night. The mildly funky collection splits the difference between melodic progressions and lo-fi beats to cozy up to with a bottle of cabernet — or a homemade jar of garlic dill.

Lindner began selling pickles to help fund his music career, which spans two trios, a contemplative solo-piano album, and an electronic venture. In 2019, he recruited Cirigliano and Chilbert to launch The Pickle Mafia. His website boasts a novel motto: “Let the pickles sell the music.” On “a night to remember,” the music sells itself.

Opener “omw” begins with peppy rhythmic anticipation, guided by Lindner’s bold chords. Midway through, he pivots to a colorful lead synth line that recalls the late, great Chick Corea’s experimental play of the 1970s. The song’s lowercase text-message title (short for “on my way”) belies the sheer elation of Cirigliano’s effervescent drumming.

“Netflix and chill,” meanwhile, implies that dessert will be served in the bedroom. Such a suggestive interlude could easily dip into pastiche, but The Pickle Mafia focuses on rhythm and atmosphere over improvisation, dipping into the “quiet storm” style with serene R&B.

Logic dictates that after a memorable night must come “the morning after,” and The Pickle Mafia ends things on a note of graceful uncertainty. Lindner ramps up the tension on the keys to remind the listener that the future, just like the status of a second date, remains unknown.

The Pickle Mafia plays its EP release show for "a night to remember" alongside Head to the Roots on Saturday, Nov. 20 , at 9 p.m., at Flour City Station, 170 East Ave. $10 advance, $15 day of show. 21 and over with valid ID.;

Patrick Hosken is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to