RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE & REVIEWS
Pizzarelli Duo to appear at Jazz at the Bistro: A Conversation with John Pizzarelli
For a father and son team who has performed together for more than 33 years, you might think that Bucky and John Pizzarelli would have seen it all. Between them, they’ve certainly played with almost everyone who’s anyone, from Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra, to James Taylor and Paul McCartney. Despite the heavy names they’ve rubbed elbows with, John says that playing with Bucky is always something special. These two jazz guitar giants make it look easy, and leave their audiences convinced that it must be genetics—or perhaps something in the New Jersey water—which allows such great talent to bloom in one family. The pair will be performing in St. Louis at Jazz at the Bistro on December 18 to 21, with two sets each night at 7:30 and 9:30. Last week, John made time in his busy schedule to talk with us about performing with Bucky, his recent and current projects, and of course, his favorite St. Louis eateries.
A Harmonic Marriage
Pizzarelli and Molaskey, Together Onstage and Off
New Youk Times
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: October 31, 2013
photo by Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
“Children and Art,” John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey’s wonderful new show at the Café Carlyle, isn’t just the title of a Stephen Sondheim song from “Sunday in the Park With George.” This reflection on what matters most is paired with “Children Will Listen,” from “Into the Woods,” to make a sweeping reflection on the rewards and stresses of balancing the roles of parent and artist by musicians who are married with two children. Both songs address personal responsibility for that which we create and leave behind: “Careful the things you say/Children will listen.”
Mr. Pizzarelli, a jazz guitarist and crooner, and Ms. Molaskey, a hybrid of Broadway and jazz baby whose penetrating psychological radar locates the truth of a song lyric wherever it leads, have been married for 15 years and recently renewed their vows. Their satisfaction — and perhaps their amazement — at having stayed the course echoed through Tuesday’s opening-night performance in which two new young band members, the pianist Konrad Paszkudzki and the drummer Kevin Kanner, (replacing Larry Fuller and Tony Tedesco) joined the group. Martin Pizzarelli, John’s younger brother, remains on bass.
Although the revised ensemble has more percussive edge, what is lost is considerable. Mr. Fuller and Ray Kennedy, his predecessor on piano, brought a high polish and astonishing technical virtuosity to arrangements that showcased the group as world-class musical unit. Their replacements, though competent, are far from the best of the best.
What matters above all is the couple’s musical and personal chemistry in which each stretches to accommodate the other. Although Mr. Pizzarelli is happiest scatting in unison with his jet-propelled guitar, his quiet crooning in duets with Ms. Molaskey brings out an undertone of dreaminess in this supreme musical extrovert.
Ms. Molaskey is an expert at outfitting tricky tunes by the jazz pianist Horace Silver with smart, complicated lyrics that use the staccato, multisyllable language of bebop as a platform for witty, emotionally charged streams of consciousness.
A running theme of all their shows is the delight and sometimes the anxiety of seeing yourself through the eyes of your partner. It found its most rhapsodic expression on Tuesday in the pairing of “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “It Amazes Me,” sung with such quiet intensity that it sounded almost like pillow talk.
The show runs through Nov. 23 at the Café Carlyle, the Carlyle Hotel; 35 East 76th Street, 212-744-1600, thecarlyle.com.
From the Prague Proms website
John Pizzarelli Quartet
Jul 05, 2013
A natural lightness, grace, joy, good temper, and an absolute peace of mind would best depict the first Prague appearance of an American guitar player and singer John Pizzarelli with his quartet.
This was a Proms top of the bill and a very much smooth-going concert. Great arrangements ranging from Gershwin and Ellington to the Beatles and Neil Young were excellently played. Besides singing, scatting and playing the guitar, charismatic and relaxed John Pizzarelli was entertaining the audience with stories about Sinatra and McCartney. Prague Proms concert proved that John Pizzarelli is one of the most formidable singers on the world jazz scene.
Review: John Pizzarelli dazzles with varied jazz-rock repertoire at MCG
January 21, 2013 10:31 am
By Rich Kienzle
"I held off the hockey season just long enough for us to play," singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli said, joking about the recently ended NHL lockout early into his sold-out Friday Manchester Craftsmen's Guild concert.
Mr. Pizzarelli and his quartet -- younger brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, pianist Larry Fuller and drummer Tony Tedesco -- performed 13 tunes. Most were from his Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington tribute albums and from "Double Exposure," his recent album of rock tunes either mashed up with jazz standards or given classic jazz arrangements.
After opening with a vigorous "How About You" followed by "You Make Me Feel So Young," he shifted into a blistering "Just You, Just Me."
A master raconteur, he joked about recording with "a member of Wings," relating his role as rhythm guitarist on "Kisses On the Bottom," Paul McCartney's recent album of vintage pop standards. He followed by reprising a tune from the album: the 1940 Ink Spots ballad "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)," its sublime arrangement literally time-traveling to the '40s.
Kicking off the "Double Exposure" segment with a rocking "Ruby Baby," Mr. Pizzarelli told colorful tales of his dad, still-active 87-year-old jazz icon Bucky Pizzarelli, who'd played on Dion's 1963 hit version of "Ruby" as a Manhattan studio guitarist.
He continued the "Exposure" combinations with a stately, plaintive rendering of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon," seasoned with bits of "Shine On Harvest Moon."
All Mr. Pizzarelli's guitar solos were sharp and concise, but he caught fire on the Allman Brothers' "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," arranged to honor guitarist Wes Montgomery's "Four On Six." At one point he and Mr. Fuller played harmony lines echoing the famous Duane Allman-Dicky Betts twin lead guitars.
An elegant mash-up of Tom Waits' "Drunk On the Moon" and Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," led into the Beatles' "I Feel Fine," fused with trumpeter Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder."
Granted, Mr. Pizzarelli is the star. Mr. Fuller, however, generates his own incandescence with riveting solos that summarize the history of jazz piano, from Count Basie and Fats Waller to George Shearing, Erroll Garner, Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson. Mr. Tedesco and Martin Pizzarelli constitute a solid, intuitive rhythm section capable of subtlety, drive and anything else required.
They briefly left the stage as Mr. Pizzarelli explained his and his dad's instrument of choice: the seven-string guitar (a guitar with an added low A string) before playing an old-school solo on Mr. Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me." The musicians returned for an Ellingtonian mash-up, playing "East St. Louis Toodle-oo" as Mr. Pizzarelli sang "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and closed with another Ellington standard: "In A Mellow Tone." The encore: a Nat "King" Cole-inspired "It's Only A Paper Moon."
Mr. Pizzarelli is both jazz virtuoso and a skilled interpreter of the Great American Songbook. What sets him apart are his skills as an entertainer and a firm belief the Songbook is an ever-evolving work in progress. In demonstrating all those assets -- and more -- he and his associates left the MCG audience more than satisfied.
Rich Kienzle is a music historian who writes the Get Rhythm blog at post-gazette.com.
First Published January 21, 2013 10:31 am
Guitarist, singer John Pizzarelli blends jazz stylings to make them all his own
By Dan Emerson
Special to the Pioneer Press
Guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli, who opened a two-night stand at the Dakota jazz club Wednesday, Dec. 12, may be achieving some semi-historic musical "firsts" with his newly-released CD, "Double Exposure."
He is probably the first performer to combine jazz guitar great Wes Montgomery's blazing bebop tune "4 on 6" with the old Allman Brothers' instrumental "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." His opening set at the Dakota featured that unlikely hybrid, along with another example of Pizzarelli's inventive cross-pollination: Tom Waits' relatively obscure, cocktail-noir tune "Drunk on the Moon," blended with Billy Strayhorn's classic jazz ballad "Lush Life."
New Jerseyan Pizzarelli made both of those genre-blending mash-ups sound completely natural. Those and others from the new CD don't seem at all like gimmicks, but a natural outgrowth of Pizzarelli's formative musical influences: a combination of the rock and pop tunes he heard on the radio growing up in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, and the swing-era jazz he learned from his father, the great seven-string guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli.
The set also included a number of jazz standards, starting with the quartet's unfailingly swinging version of "If Dreams Come True," which John Pizzarelli recorded a few years back with the late pianist George Shearing.
After Pizzarelli slipped in a plug for his nationally syndicated, public radio show, he led the combo through an uptempo rendition of one of the "most standard" of all standards, Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm." They infused the tune with bebop insouciance, as Pizzarelli scatted several choruses in unison with his guitar solo.
With drummer Tony Tedesco and bassist Martin Pizzarelli setting the pace, the tune transitioned into a blues shuffle for several bars before switching back to swing.
Pizzarelli followed that with "We Three," a relatively obscure Tommy Dorsey-Frank Sinatra hit from the 1940s, which Pizzarelli recently recorded with Paul McCartney. He also featured a jazzed-up rendition of the Dion and the Belmonts smash "Ruby Baby" -- noting that his father played guitar on the original, rock 'n' roll version.
Then the band laid out while Pizzarelli played a solo rendition of Duke Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me," featuring a nice chord-melody arrangement.
More Ellington classics followed, with a propulsively swinging version of "In A Mellow Tone" (spiced up by pianist Larry Fuller's Count Basie-style licks) and "In My Solitude," one of Ellington's most beautiful ballads.
Fuller is the quartet's "secret weapon," the masterful pianist was formerly part of the great bassist Ray Brown's fabled trio.
Pizzarelli's guitar solo on "Solitude" featured some next-to-the-bridge picking in the style of another great East Coast guitarist, the late Tal Farlow.
The quartet's set closer, "C Jam Blues," provided a showcase for Fuller's stride-boogie-woogie work on the piano.
Pizzarelli and his quartet will perform again at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis at 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday.
Dan Emerson is a freelance writer and musician in Minneapolis.
John Pizzarelli - 'Double Exposure’
On this release veteran singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli pairs modern songwriters with classic styles to create a seamless set of tasteful, expert jazz.
Backed by his skilled touring combo with special guests including a four-piece horn section, Pizzarelli moves from the Great American Songbook to a new jazz literature derived from contemporary pop, Americana, rock and soul. Now, instead of Kern, Porter and Berlin, we get Dion, the Allman Brothers, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Neil Young and Elvis Costello grooving in classic jazz arrangements.
The Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” gets a Lee Morgan “Sidewinder” bounce, James Taylor’s “Traffic Jam” takes on a Joe Henderson bop via Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, and Seals & Crofts’ “Diamond Girl” goes all “Kind of Blue” moody.
The playing is elegant and swinging, and the musical blends work, creating a classy jazz for the 21st century.
– Eric Feber, The Pilot
Download “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Alison”
All Quiet Except for the Singing
A musical couple find their inspiration at a lakeside cabin north of Manhattan
By NANCY KEATES - watch video below
John playing "I Got Rhythm" ... wait for the end...
Q&A: John Pizzarelli’s Montreal
posted by Li Robbins
Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader John Pizzarellihas played the Montreal International Jazz Festival many times. He’s what you could call a regular. So it seemed the natural thing to ask him about his relationship with the city. (He's also one of the musicians that the lucky winner of our Win a trip and tickets to the Montreal International Jazz Festival contest, now closed gets to go to.)
Pizzarelli, if you don’t know his work, can be credited with helping popularize jazz, in part through projects like his latest,Double Exposure, which mashes up the pop music of his youth in the 1960s and ‘70s with jazz. For example, Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder” and the Beatles' “I Feel Fine”, which you can hear in this behind-the-scenes take, below, on Double Exposure.
Watch it then read on to find out what Pizzarelli thinks about bagels, his command of French and which movie star Montreal most resembles, among other things.
Q: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had at the Montreal Jazz Festival?
A: Well, the first night, the first time at the Club Soda was amazing. Twenty years ago. It was so unexpected. I think the other two would be the Beatles concert and the bossa nova concert. They were all amazing. The energy of the Place des Arts is incredible. Then again, 1994 at The Spectrum (RIP) with my trio was pretty good, too. I got to meet Pat Metheny in 1992 at The Spectrum and he said he had heard how well we were doing at the Club Soda before I got to say anything to him. That was pretty crazy.
Q: How’s your French?
A: My French is very high school, if you will. Ou est Sylvie? Au lycée. Claude est la? Non, il est au zoo. I do have a few concert-ready phrases, but nothing terrific.
Q: Montreal bagels vs. New York bagels: go ahead, make your case!
Are there any bagels other than N.Y. bagels? I have an extra day [at the festival] this year, which means an extra morning, and will let Montreal make its case for their bagels, OK?
Q: Favourite Montreal night spots or restaurants/bars?
A: The easy winners are Le Latini and Gibbys. They are perennials and hold wonderful memories of my first trips to Montreal. I had a great Chinese meal after a concert with the band in Chinatown that was great. Twenty years ago, I took the Nat Raider band out to an Italian dinner in midtown which began around midnight and ended around 3:30. Amazing. Also, during that run we went to L'Express a lot post gig. I am a bit of a foodie and I watch a lot of the cooking network. Should I make my way to Garde Manger? Le Bremner? WillChuck let me in?
Q: Where would you go in the city for some quiet time?
The old town seems very lovely and peaceful to me. I don't get to walk around a lot, but walks back from Gibbys have always been enjoyable. I know, I am a tourist.
Q: Poutine – are you a fan?
A: Haven't experienced them. Your suggestions here, or leave them at the hotel.
[Editor’s note: A publicist for the Montreal International Jazz Festival assures us he will introduce John Pizzarelli to poutine. Then, whether or not he likes it, he will at least understand they aren’t a “them.”)
Q: Who are your Montreal heroes?
A: The people of Montreal have been so supportive. I would imagine any Montreal Canadien hockey player. When they come to NYC with those beautiful sweaters it's always a great hockey original six moment. What about Jean Beliveau orMaurice Richard? Hockey heroes are the best!
Q: If Montreal were a movie star, who would the city be?
A: Charlize Theron.
Q: What advice would you give to first-time Montreal jazz festival-goers?
A: Take your time and soak it all in and remember that the best music can be on a street corner for free, not just the obvious great acts in the big room.
John Pizzarelli’s remaining Canadian tour dates, summer 2012:
Montreal International Jazz Festival, July 6 and 7
Halifax Jazz Festival, July 10
John was featured in a recent issue of Jazz Times.
Father and Son, and Other Pairings
Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
John Pizzarelli Quartet Bucky Pizzarelli, near left, joining his son John in his show at Café Carlyle on Tuesday night.
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: May 30, 2012
John Pizzarelli has the gift of gab in more ways than one. A great storyteller, he can spin the tiniest anecdote about the musician’s life into a sidesplitting absurdist yarn. As a guitarist who leads his own quartet, he instigates high-speed musical conversations within the group that have the fast, frisky playfulness of a pro basketball team tossing off a victory. Propelling the ensemble’s signature bounce are Mr. Pizzarelli’s younger brother, Martin, on bass, the drummer Tony Tedesco and Larry Fuller on piano.
When Mr. Pizzarelli’s father, the seminal jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, now 86, joins in the fun, the conversation becomes a father-son dialogue in which their mutual affection is sharpened by friendly rivalry. The son, now 52, is deferential up to a point but makes sure to demonstrate his superior dexteritywhen it comes to velocity.
This friendly musical palaver made for an enthralling evening of serious jazz comedy at the quartet’s Tuesday opening-night performance at Café Carlyle, where Bucky sat in as an honored guest.
John’s latest album, “Double Exposure” (Telarc), elaborates on the notion of jazz as conversation by fusing unlikely jazz and pop songs in combinations that lift them out of their generic niches. One of those hybrids — Tom Waits’s “Drunk on the Moon,” interwoven with Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” — was the evening’s high point. It was all the more remarkable considering that it was the show’s quietest number and included none of the instrumental fireworks that are a Pizzarelli specialty. As John murmured their conjoined lyrics, you had a sense of a solitary musician dreaming out loud about the flow of influences from generation to generation.
Another connection was a jazzy rendition of Dion’s 1963 hit “Ruby, Baby” filtered through Donald Fagen’s “Nightfly.” Throughout the evening the father and son shared their memories of Les Paul, a family friend and competitor whom Bucky nicknamed “the man who invented electricity.”
The funniest story revolved around the recently released Paul McCartney album, “Kisses on the Bottom,” on which Bucky and John both played. Within a day of two word of those secret sessions had spread, despite a confidentiality agreement both had signed. Bucky had blabbed.
The show culminated with a Benny Goodman medley — “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” “Memories of You” and “Sing, Sing, Sing” — in which the father and son joined forces to make a mighty sound, and Mr. Tedesco supplied an explosively palpitating drum solo. Pure joy reigned.
The quartet with Bucky Pizzarelli continues through June 8 at Café Carlyle, at the Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, Manhattan; (212) 744-1600, thecarlyle.com.
Read what people are saying about John's Double Exposure:
“On Double Exposure, jazz great John Pizzarelli revisits the rock syllabus that introduced him to the magic of the guitar.”
“The jazz singer/guitarist revisits Donald Fagen's tune with playful wit on Double Exposure, out next Tuesday.”
“Walk Between the Raindrops”/USA Today’s Playlist
“Some of his new musical marriages are naturals: The Allman Brothers’ late ‘60s and early ‘70s jams were inspired in part by Coltrane’s modal compositions; the Waits track comes from his The Heart of Saturday Night album, which is as much a jazz disc as it is a pop one (and Mr. Waits mentions ‘the lush life’ in the ‘Drunk on the Moon’ lyric); Mr. Fagen’s solo career, as well as his work with Steely Dan, is jazz-inspired; and Elvis Costello, whose ‘Alison’ is enriched with some augmented chords and new harmonies on the new disc, was a jazz fan before he turned to rock and R&B. But Mr. Pizzarelli does handy work with a few songs that have no jazz references in their original form. He adds a quote from ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon’ and a few jazz chords to Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ and joins ‘I Feel Fine’ by the Beatles with Lee Morgan’s ‘The Sidewinder,’ in both cases with winning results.”
Wall Street Journal
“The singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli has never hid his lingering passion for sixties and seventies pop music; on his new album, Double Exposure, he brings his bright, swing-infused elegance to signature tunes by, among others, Billy Joel, Donald Fagen, the Allman Brothers, and Seals and Crofts.”
The New Yorker
“Double Exposure is every bit as swinging and musical as his previous albums; yet, this material reflects not a distant past but Pizzarelli’s own youth, when he played both jazz and contemporary pop-rock. By paying homage to that phase of his life, he’s created the most moving and personal album of his career.”
“By selecting numbers important to him during his formative years, singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli has mashed up pop songs by artists such as Billy Joel, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Michael McDonald, Donald Fagen and Joni Mitchell with the jazz record collection of his father, senior jazz guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli…Double Exposure can serve as a generational bridge between the music of Tom Brokaw’s ‘Greatest Generation’ and the popular music baby boomers to Gen Y enjoy.”
NY Daily News
“Hold the phone. What’s going on here? The Beatles’ ‘I Feel Fine’ with Lee Morgan’s ‘Sidewinder’ as the instrumental setting? Tom Waits’ ‘Drunk on the Moon’ by way of ‘Lush Life?’ James Taylor’s ‘Traffic Jam’ given a Lambert, Hendricks and Ross treatment with Joe Henderson’s ‘The Kicker’? Pizzarelli’s explanation couldn’t be simpler. When he was growing up, he was caught between two record collections—his legendary guitarist father Bucky’s and his sister’s. The result, then, is a clever recital of ‘hearing double’— with, say, the Allman Brothers’ ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,’ which he paired with ‘themes from Wes Montgomery’s ‘Four on Six.’’ How about Seals and Crofts’ ‘Diamond Girl’ ‘taking its cue’ (as he puts it) from Miles’ ‘Kind of Blue?’ If it all seems to work with minimal kitsch, it’s because his musicians include Larry Goldings, violinist Aaron Weinstein and his brother Martin on bass. Anyone who’s ever thought that Pizzarelli had gone so pure cabaret that he spilled over the border into cutesy will have a great time with this, full to the brim with chops and smarts.” *** 1/2
“(John Pizzarelli) has come up with something innovative for his latest album, “Double Exposure.” Most of the 13 songs are either jazz redos of rock songs or — get this — mashups of jazz and pop tunes. He sets the melody and lyrics of the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” against the chords and horn punch of Lee Morgan’s classic, “The Sidewinder.” He uses the challenging chord changes of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” as the backdrop for Tom Waits’s “Drunk on the Moon.” He underpins Seals & Crofts’s “Diamond Girl” with the familiar chords from Miles Davis’s “So What.” He blends James Taylor’s “Traffic Jam” and Joe Henderson’s hard bop number “The Kicker” right into each other, so that the parts become inseparable. Shockingly, it all works — quite well”
“…one of the finest interpreters of the Great American Songbook”
Los Angeles Daily News
“Guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli has made the best of being brought up in a dual-music home as a kid. Born in 1960, Pizzarelli grew up with the music Donald Fagan, James Taylor and Neil Young songbooks, along with the jazz of his father, Bucky, the famous guitarist. On Double Exposure, he blends the elements with taste and respect. For instance, John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s ‘I Feel Fine’ is played over Lee Morgan’s ‘The Sidewinder.’ The Allman Brothers’ ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’ gets touches of Wes Montgomery. ‘Diamond Girl’ by Seals and Crofts has a taste of ‘So What’ by Miles Davis. The album features his quartet and guests such as Larry Goldings on organs. Such an effort could be artificial and rigidly forced, but Pizzarelli does it with such taste, each piece brings eager anticipation for the next.”
“What’s charming about this album, beyond the sheer quality of the songs and the arrangements, is Pizzarelli’s obvious and genuine love for this really broad gamut of material, and his insight into the varied qualities that make them all great songs.”
“Jazz legend John Pizzarelli is getting ready to release his new album Double Exposure, a collection of great pop oldies rearranged and recast in a jazz style. Pizzarelli is one of the most versatile guitarists and singers on the jazz scene today. His latest album, which is proving the idea that jazz and pop can exist together, has taken everyone by surprise.”
Voice of America
“Double Exposure is highly personalized album with John’s ‘Pizz spin.’ The marriage of the songs selected, the arrangements, and the oh-so-very-special lyrics. All this makes a sensational album that has something new to discover every time you listen to it. This man seems to be able to do any and everything!”
Jazz Magazine (France)
“Jazz guitarist and singer extraordinaire John Pizzarelli eschews the traditional American Songbook by branching out in some new directions on his terrific new Telarc disc, Double Exposure, with covers of tunes by a contemporary group of songwriters including John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell, among others. As always, the arrangements are impeccable and Pizzarelli sounds wonderful.”
“The arrangements are sharp and witty, the singing deceptively easygoing, and the guitar playing just terrific. It’s a delight”
The Guardian (UK)
“Using a stellar band with spanking fresh arrangements, Pizzarelli spins his own gold from a smart idea. On Double Exposure, Pizzarelli couples the old and new, borrowed and blue over 13 selections in a way that is nothing short of clever invention. He plays creative double-duty by choosing modern pop songs and mashing them with jazz classics.”
“With Double Exposure, John Pizzarelli has reconciled two of the musical genres that he heard in abundance during his teens and early twenties, and now he has recorded them with an approach as witty and refreshing as the title of his new album.”
“The stars were in perfect alignment for a picture perfect release by one of the most consistent artists of our time.”
Downbeat magazine review of Double Exposure
Jazz CD reviews: 'Journeyman,' 'Double Exposure,' 'Telling Stories'
Interpretation's the theme of works by Brandon Wright, John Pizzarelli and Paulette McWilliams
What makes jazz jazz? One key element is the way artists interpret songs. The three reviewed below, in addition to their own work, take tunes from other genres and jazz ’em up.
John Pizzarelli's 'Double Exposure' mashes up songs by the Beatles, Joni Mitchell and more.
“Double Exposure” (Telarc)
By selecting numbers important to him during his formative years, singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli has mashed up pop songs by artists such as Billy Joel, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Michael McDonald, Donald Fagen and Joni Mitchell with the jazz record collection of his father, senior jazz guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli.
Jazz is the basis upon which songs such as John Lennon’s “I Feel Fine” are rendered underneath a Lee Morgan “Sidewinder” groove. And Billy Strayhorn’s bittersweet “Lush Life” becomes fertile ground for Tom Waits’ "Drunk on the Moon.” The most sterling creative achievement may be when James Taylor’s “Traffic Jam” meets Joe Henderson’s “The Kicker,” with witty vocalese lyrics by Jessica Molaskey based on a Henderson solo from a Horace Silver record.
For my ears, the other great cut is the Allman Brothers’ “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” performed over Wes Montgomery’s “Four on Six,” with the rhythm section swinging hard, and taking vibrant solos.
Purists who have a problem with modern pop tunes given tasteful treatment by a jazz artist such as Pizzarelli would do well to remember that throughout the history of jazz, pop songs were the material upon which jazz greats made masterpieces. While not a masterpiece, “Double Exposure” can serve as a generational bridge between the music of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” and the popular music baby boomers to Gen Y enjoy.
GOINGS ON ABOUT TOWN: NIGHT LIFE
May 29-June 8: The singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli has never hid his lingering passion for sixties and seventies pop music; on his new album, “Double Exposure,” he brings his bright, swing-infused elegance to signature tunes by, among others, Billy Joel, Donald Fagen, the Allman Brothers, and Seals and Crofts.
May 29 – June 8
Carlyle Hotel, Madison Ave. at 76th St., New York, N.Y.
Events on Long Island
Published: May 18, 2012
WESTHAMPTON BEACH Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center John Pizzarelli, jazz guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader. May 27 at 8:30 p.m. $50 to $85. Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main Street. whbpac.org; (631) 288-1500.
May 28, 2012
John Pizzarelli - Double Exposure - May 15th release
by Melissa Berry
Double Exposure - John Pizzarelli's new hybrid album with the "John Pizzarelli spin" - something for everyone
John Pizzarelli has become an icon and his music timeless, although he's seems much too young for this. Double Exposure, his newest album released May 15th, is wonderful as usual. But this is even more wonderful for so many reasons, and on so many levels. First of all, it's a hybrid using some of the timeless songs we're familiar with from James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, and Elvis Costello. These songs are coupled original lyrics, arrangements, and famous musical licks in the style of Gene Krupa and Chet Baker.
Some of the cuts will undoubtedly get to both sides of your brain. Musically, your heart will be captured. Intellectually, John and Jessica Molaskey's (his wife) challenge you with some of their wicked, special lyrics paralleling the original songs with their unique, athletic candor.
John Pizzarelli captured my heart initially with his infinitely delicious album Bossa Nova(Concord - 2004) he made with Russ Titelman producer. He's back with two exceptionally lovely pieces of bossa nova style on Double Exposure. Both his interpretations of Billy Joel's "Rosalinda" and Joni Mitchell's "Free Man In Paris are the 21st Century grown-up versions of these two memorable older songs. He creates a magical, thoughtful moment with the quiet and relaxed acoustic bossa nova softening the original bite of each song. Both are worth listening to many times over as I've couldn't resist doing.
The following unique pairing is James Taylor's "Traffic Jam" combined with Joe Henderson's "The Kicker". The opening of this "Traffic Jam/The Kicker" sets the tone with a drum solo by Tony Tedeso that is decidedly reminiscent of is Gene Krupa's famous "jungle beat" solo from the 1936 "Swing, Swing, Swing". From this, it moves to scat perfection with the synchronization of the Pizzarelli/Molaskey’s always keen scat partnership. Their take on James Taylors' humorously urgent lyrics is given a playful turn with their addition of some original lyrics. Jessica Molaskey - John's partner in crime, wife, and talented singer/performer in her own right - is credited with the special lyrics. Her lyrics are truly unique and not for the intellectually challenged. Unless you're familiar with "No Exit" by Jean Paul Sarte and Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", some of the humor might be lost on you. Not to worry, there are plenty quips to go around for everyone with her lyrics.
A song of theirs, which is entirely original with the same Pizzarelli/Molaskey great, personal lyrics, is "Take A Lot of Pictures". Pizzarelli says, "the song, penned by myself and Jessica, is based on an expression employed by Frank Sinatra whenever he got roped into having to pose for a lot of photographs backstage before a gig. Someone would ask, 'Mind if I take a few more, Mr. Sinatra?' An increasingly agitated Blue Eyes would mutter, 'Take a lot of pictures,' implying this to be his final time at this venue. Same can be said to the saying, 'It looks like rain.' If someone was bothering Sinatra at a party while he was talking to friends and he'd had enough, he would say to his cohorts, 'It looks like rain' and that meant, 'Let's get out of here.' In 'Take a Lot of Picture,' we see the relationship take a turn toward crazy." And that entirely explains the source of "Take a Lot of Pictures." Listen closely to the lyrics, and hopefully you won't remember anything like this being said to you.
Pizzarelli gives a new interpretation to one of the all-time notable songs, "Alison" by Elvis Costello. It is in this altogether different style that, in turn, changes the tone to a much more intimate one than the original. Pizzarelli sings a slow, quietly sad ballad of dialogue with only one person speaking. The only other thing speaking on this cut is the sad, quiet trumpet by Tony Kadleck, reminiscent of Chet Baker, echoing the melancholy atmosphere.
Every one of Pizzarelli's choices for Double Exposure is so thoughtful in the melding of two songs including the "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young. Opening with a taste of the original "Harvest Moon", the Tin Pan Alley favorite is credited to vaudevillian Nora Bayes. The marriage of the two is so sweet without being cloying. The Neil Young "Harvest Moon" is introduced by setting the mood using the opening bars of the original "Shine On Harvest Moon". It continues with him playing lovely harmonics preceding each phrase he sings. The fiddle and a sweet organ line in the background keep the whole song in character. The organ, played by jazz great Larry Goldings on Double Exposure, is a wonderful touch throughout this album. It's just a whiff of the organ that reminds us of what an important contribution this can be to the mood without being intrusive. It's also can be heard in "Free Man in Paris".
Double Exposure is highly personalized album with John's "Pizz spin." The marriage of the songs selected, the arrangements, and the oh-so-very-special lyrics. All this makes a sensational album that has something new to discover every time you listen to it. This man seems to be able to do any and everything!
May 14, 2012
Mike Ragogna - Radio Personality on Solar Powered KRUU-FM, Music Biz Vet
A Conversation With John Pizzarelli
Mike Ragogna: John, you're forty albums in, so we have a lot to talk about. But let's start with Double Exposure, your latest project. How did you choose the material for your projects?
John Pizzarelli: I make lists of what I want to record throughout the year on plane flights or train rides or in my mind, just driving the car around, or whatever it is I'm doing. There's always the idea, "What's the next record going to be?" I start to make lists, and for the last six to seven years, I've always started with the songs that I loved coming out of my teens and throughout my twenties, even going back as far as my very early years, so that's where The Beatles come from. The idea is that I've never had a way to present these songs that I felt would make it something that would stand out, but I needed something that I felt would tie everything together. It really comes back from when we did The Beatles record 16 years ago, where we took The Beatles' songs and we presented them as other songs, so Don Sebesky came up with the idea to do "Can't Buy Me Love" with the arrangements of Woody Herman's "Woodchopers Ball"; we thought about "Moondance" when we did "Things We Said Today"; we presented "Here Comes the Sun" as a Jobim song.
So there was an idea there to present, not just saying, "Hey let's swing The Beatles." I'm finally getting this list together of these songs I really like--Donald Fagen songs, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Beatles, etc. My wife and I had been doing this cross-referencing of other songs throughout. When we did the Ellington record, I thought about "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and I thought, "Well, you know, that seems to really be a sad song, all these things that this guy did and he just doesn't get around anymore because he doesn't have the girl." So I always thought about, "Well, what if I put it in a minor key?" That's something Jess and I had done on her songs, switching the idea of the song that was in a major key but putting it in a minor key and then it changes the whole idea of the song. That's what we did with "St. Louis Toodle-Oo," which, actually, Steely Dan had made a record of, and we put those chords around the melody of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and it changed the whole idea of the song. Then we heard "I Feel Fine / Sidewinder" and I felt it would be great to take these ideas of jazz from the '50s and '60s and put that around some of these songs from the '70s and '80s and '90s, and I think that's how it became the foundation for what Double Exposure became.
MR: Because we're inundated weekly with hundreds of releases, I think what happens as the decades go by is that we forget some of the great songwriters. On the other hand, there are songwriters who probably will be acknowledged for quite some time, like Bob Dylan. And you covered Joni Mitchell's "Free Man In Paris" here, she's another one of those songwriters.
JP: That's the other thing about growing up in the '60s and '70s, and your bio says you're one of the great interpreters or re-inventors of The Great American Songbook. For me, that's one part of the whole thing, but really, The Great American Songbook--or basically, the songbook in general because I think three of the writers on this record are Canadian--The Great North American Songbook doesn't stop. There are great songs that have been written since 1964 where they say "The Great American Songbook" ends because of "Sound Of Music" and Richard Rogers and all that jazz. But look at Joni Mitchell's body of work, it's incredible. Look at what The Beatles wrote...there are great songs. James Taylor, Donald Fagen--there are songs out there that have been written, it's just that they're not in the same song form. They take a long time to get there, and you've got to figure out...what the style of presentation is, trying to find a way to make that all work. Taking Tom Waits' song and putting "Lush Life" inside of it was something that I thought was very interesting, in a way, that tied together what both of these guys are saying, the same thing, but putting it in their language.
MR: Yeah, with Double Exposure, you're suturing songs and styles, showing the relativity between the two worlds.
JP: It was Don Sebesky's idea. He was the one said, "I think it's Double Exposure" and then nobody could think of something that would say it better, and I think it really did.
MR: You cover "Drunk On The Moon," which is a Tom Waits classic and it comes from one of the great singer-songwriter albums of all time, The Heart of Saturday Night.
JP: Yeah, I actually referenced it in the liner notes that that was the record that came into our house from one of my sister's boyfriends. A lot of the records were brought in by these great guys that came over with their records. When I was 15 and 16, and here my sisters who were older than me, they'd bring these guys who'd bring these really cool records over. So we started to hear early Billy Joel records, get early Tom Waits records, Springsteen before Born To Run--the Greetings From Asbury Park record and things like that. There were a lot of interesting things. Jackson Browne was one who came in early, so there were a lot of cool records that came in. For a household that had Sinatra, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald, here were these other records coming in, so it was very interesting the way that these records were getting mixed together.
MR: I loved all those artists and records as well, and I see the relationship between the two worlds. Where later pop records might be less in the musical setup, the lyrics were more evolved, meaningful, and specific, or at least they tried to be.
JP: Yeah, I first heard that in Jackson Browne's work. That was a big deal for me when I first heard the record Late For The Sky, and I was thinking, "Wow, this guy is not just moon-June-spoon-ing it. There's a whole other thing he's talking about." Then there were people like Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon that were writing very amazing things. The Court And Spark record, in particular, was a big one for me being in our house. That was really cross-pollination of jazz and pop music in the same place. I guess they grew up in that era too, they were part of that, but they were cross-referencing those things. A lot of them were influenced by The Beatles, I guess, but then there were all these other things. Wherever Joni went, it was always amazing; there were always amazing things that she started to do. She was always reinventing herself.
MR: With Joni, it's interesting, because later on in her career, she revisited her own material with the help of arranger Vince Mendoza. The recordings were a perfect blend of old school pop standards and contemporary lyrics, with an undercurrent of rock 'n' roll, creating a pretty unique style.
JP: Well, look at "Harvest Moon" and Neil Young. With Neil Young, there are also so many different things. I spent a plane ride last week just listening to a number of Neil Young songs, and it's quite amazing for songs that talk about what's going on in the world in 1968, '69, and '70. There are love songs like "Harvest Moon," then there's "Cinnamon Girl," then there's "Heart Of Gold," "Rocking In The Free World." It's amazing with all the different hats that he wears and all the different things. "Harvest Moon," in particular, just stuck out as another one of those songs. He's just writing whatever comes to mind, I guess. So many different things flying around.
MR: Since we're also talking about heritage, you're the son of legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. You inherited a lot from your dad, didn't you.
JP: (laughs) Well, you know, when I was 21, when I was just coming out of my teens and looking for a voice, I spent between the ages of 18 and 25 thinking I could be like Billy Joel, or I could be James Taylor or Peter Frampton even. So I was ready with all these things, but I had a lot of solo gigs around town, playing the guitar and doing things, and it was my father who pointed me in the direction of Nat King Cole. I was making my money by playing with my father, but he said, "You're the only guy who plays jazz to support his rock 'n' roll habit." My father always pointed me in the right way...it was the Nat Cole repertoire the he pointed me to. It was George Van Eps, 7-string guitar master, about whom my father said, "Listen to this." It was those kind of records that really informed what I was going to do for the next 30 years, and it was all around that time between 1978 and 1984.
MR: Did he sit you down and teach you as a kid?
JP: No, the only thing he told me was when I was about six-and-a-half, he gave me a banjo and my father said, "I'm going to take you to my uncle, the same guy who taught me, and he's going to teach you how to play the banjo." I said, "Okay," so I learned "Bye-Bye Blues," "Bye-Bye Blackbird," or "Bye-bye" anything. So I played for six years, and then at 12, I picked up the guitar, because there were guitars everywhere in our house--our couch, the corner, anywhere. I played along with Elton John records. My sister had Elton John records, so the first song I learned to play on the guitar was "Country Comfort," which is from the Tumbleweed Connection record. So I'm playing the guitar and then my father shared me with my bands that he said, "Well, if you could learn all these crazy guitar solos from all the guys you like, why don't you listen to the Django Reinhardt record? Or even better, I did these duets with George Barnes, so learn George Barne's part and we can play duets on my gigs." He was just pointing me in the right direction, and I just loved it. I liked listening to music and trying to learn stuff off the record, and he saw me, and he just needed to push me in the right direction.
MR: John, what is your favorite album of all time?
JP: Favorite album of all time? Wow...there are so many. I think Abbey Road is pretty close to the top of the list. It's funny. You could say Abbey Road or you could say In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, because they're the types of records you put on and say, "Oh, I'll just listen to one or two tracks." The other day, I put it on the plane and I listened to it all the way through, and I'm sitting there thinking, "It's the most incredible thing." You always discover something on that record. I feel the same thing when I listen to Sinatra In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning. I constantly hear things--I hear George Van Eps playing the guitar, I hear stuff that Sinatra is doing, his singing. I hear sweet muted trumpet things, and it's amazing. So I think those two. AndFrampton Comes Alive! would win an honorable mention.
MR: Ah, there's Frampton again. You also are a rocker.
JP: I'm more than a rocker. (laughs)
MR: True, apparently you're also a Boston Red Sox fan.
JP: (laughs) Well, there are always some faults I guess that are in everyone, and that's the cross I have to bare.
MR: (laughs) It's interesting because you don't dare say that you're a Red Sox fan when you're visiting New York or New Jersey.
JP: You know that I walk my daughter to school every morning when I'm in town, and I usually wear my Red Sox hat. I've been a New York Giants football fan, a Rangers fan, so I had to take the Red Sox hat off while the Giants were making their move, because they'd think I like the Patriots. There are many problems when you walk someone to school and what hat you're going to wear in the morning. These are things I need to figure out at 7:45 in the morning.
MR: Speaking of wearing many hats, you, sir, are also a radio host with your wife, Jessica Molaskey.
JP: I am. I have a little show called Radio Deluxe that we do right out of our living room, which is an amazing thing. I actually found out that one of our major listeners is James Taylor. About two weeks ago, I was out in California doing the Paul McCartney business for his new record and James Taylor grabbed me, and he says, "Gee, John, I love that Radio Deluxe that you and your wife do. That's just fantastic, tell me all about it!" I was thinking, "Is this conversation happening?" Was it one of those "weird punch" things? I'm in LA, so who knows. We do it out of living room once a week, it's on about 40 stations throughout the United States and Canada. It's been a lot of fun, it's basically just talking about our day and what music we love. We play everything, all the music we've just talked about.
MR: By the way, I listen to it as well, and it's a joy to listen to.
JP: It's amazing people are listening.
MR: (laughs) No, people are definitely listening. There are a couple of times when I was driving across country, and your show actually kept me sane in the midst of all of the fire and brimstone programming.
JP: Yes, I can understand that. Thank you very much.
MR: How do you feel about having recorded on 40 albums at this point?
JP: It's pretty amazing. I know there are 20 just on my own, and there have been a lot of other fun ones. It's amazing. I always feel like when I get to 20 now, it's been about 30 years that I've been working, and I feel like I have a number that I feel I can always raise. You know, I've been doing that for 30 years, and I always wanted to get to a good number, and I feel I'm finally getting to that good number where I can start that argument with one of those statements.
MR: I bet you can remember those years as if they were yesterday.
JP: I can remember hearing those records that we've talked about, meeting people on the way and not realizing how important those things were. I'm looking at a poster right here in my living room that says "In Concert, Frank Sinatra, Special Guest John Pizzarelli." Who would think that would be a poster that existed in the world ever.
MR: Tell us about that one, the Frank Sinatra experience.
JP: I was lucky. I was on RCA at the time and Sinatra was doing a tour of Germany. Since BMG owned RCA and BMG, being a Germany company, the Bertelsmann group said, "You should get Pizzarelli to open the show." They couldn't get anybody to open the show, and two months before, in April, I was told the concerts were June 1st through the 6th. The smallest group was Dortmund, it was about 5,000. Everything after that was over 10,000. I'd come out of work in clubs that maybe had seen 1,000 in a concert hall at that point, so it was pretty amazing to get out there and go, "Okay, here's 20,000 in Derby Park in Hamburg." It was amazing, just the whole aura about opening for Sinatra. The only thing closer could be playing with Paul McCartney. That was the thing that would take you over the top of that, the only guy who has that kind of juice anymore in the industry, you know?
MR: Before we leave Sinatra for McCartney, what was your interaction like with Frank. Is there a story?
JP: Oh yeah, of course. I did meet him. The short story was I was taken down a hallway in Berlin, I shook his hand. He didn't really say anything to me and I thought that would be the story. But as I was just about to walk away, he said, "Eat something, you look bad." So those were my five words from Sinatra.
MR: Words you'll cherish forever!
JP: Yeah, I'm going to put them on my tombstone. "Should Have Eaten Something," it's going to say.
MR: And, of course, you recorded the project Dear Mr. Sinatra. You also recorded Dear Mr. Cole.
JP: Yeah, I did two Nat Cole records. The first one was a request, actually. It was the fourth record I made, it was for RCA in Japan, and it was with Benny Green, Christian McBride and myself, so that was a pretty amazing little record to make. At the end of the decade, we book-ended it with a record called P.S. Mr. Cole. That was with Ray Kennedy and my brother on bass. Basically, I couldn't ignore the fact that the reason I do what I do is Nat King Cole, so it was fun to get that done. I think, in the future, there will be another Sinatra record, I'm also sure of that. In the next five to six years, we'll bookend the Sinatra record. I don't think you can limit it to one record.
MR: Wouldn't it be interesting for someone to tackle Come Fly With Me, the whole album, hint, hint?
JP: Very good, I like that idea. I like the idea of taking a record and saying, "Let's just address this one album." I like that idea, and if I use it, I'll get the correct spelling.
MR: (laughs) So, Paul McCartney...Paul McCartney?
JP: That's a good question. (laughs) That was the question I asked Tommy LiPuma when he called me. He had called me about six weeks before the session. He left a bunch of messages on my machine. I called him back and he just said, "I got this date and I think you'd be perfect for it. And I said, "Paul McCartney??" He said, "Yeah he's going to make this record of standards and we love the way you play, and your rhythm guitar would complement the songs he's doing." So I thought, "Great!" I played on 10 of the 14 cuts, so I was really lucky. It was an amazing experience to be part of that.
MR: Were you on "Valentine"?
JP: Yes, I'm on "Valentine." They added Eric Clapton playing the classical guitar, but I'm in there. He actually recorded it a bunch of times. He did it with a big orchestra with Johnny Mandel, and then he also he did one version where he played the piano and Bob Hurst on bass...myself accompanying him. I felt like I was part of The Beatles at that moment, because he was doing the piano playing and we played it like we were being filmed for Let It Be. That's how I felt. It was so wild because I was watching this guy with the headphones singing, and he was playing the pianos and I was trying to find a George Harrison guitar part to play behind him. Then he said, "This is really great, but we need to do something that fits on the record. The idea, the attitude isn't right." We were like, "Can we get copies of it though?" We were so happy. Then he recorded it again with Diana Krall on piano and the same group the next day, and that's the track that you hear on the record. He took it out to Abbey Road and he added Clapton and they added the strings out there.
MR: I thought his performance of the song was a real highlight of the Grammys this year.
JP: Yeah, I was there, I was right behind him. I outsmarted myself, I was in the dark. Anthony Wilson and I were playing guitar on it, we memorized our part. I felt there would be no stand in front of us, so we'll look great sitting right behind Paul McCartney, but without the stand or a stand light, we were in the dark, so it's funny because we outsmarted ourselves.
MR: John, What advice might you have for new artists?
JP: Oh, me? If you're talking about vocalists, I could start there. In this style of music, I think the best place to start is always as basic as you can start. I think singing the melody and getting yourself established is always a good thing. I think what Norman Granz did with Ella Fitzgerald, making all those songbook records, though she wasn't too keen on the idea. The idea was to get as much Ella Fitzgerald out there singing songs that everybody knew, in a sense. I think that's why that Lewis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald record is so cool. They're just singing those standards so beautifully with the best rhythm section in the world. I think that's the thing. I've said that to a number of people. There's a piano player that I really like who I saw playing a bunch of Johnny Mercer songs one night. I said, "You should make that record." And he's made some really good records with complex ideas, but I said, "You know, if you just start with that very simple record... You have a nice little trio, you do Johnny Mercer, it's a great place to start." I think it's always best to start somewhere simple and then reach out from there. I may have started out a little too crazy too, but My Blue Heaven record was a good place to start.
MR: Do you have a favorite recording in your Dad's catalog?
JP: Oh, yeah, I think there are a number of things he's made on the Arbors Records label in the past ten to twenty years. There's one thing called Manhattan Swing with John Bunch and Jay Leonhart. They do a great Duke Ellington record. It just sums it up, listening to that group throughout the '90s. They were so great together. My father made a couple of really good solo records, one's calledApril Kisses and any one of those solo things that he's done on Arbors. We made a really good one the other day called Twogether. We played together from 1980-1990, and we made that record in early 2000. It's a good representation of what we used to do and I really like that record too.
MR: Nice, making records with your father. How can you beat that?
JP: Yeah, we've had a lot of fun making records together, just discussing music. Growing up to try and reach my father's level as a guitar player has been really fun. So that's just a great gift.
MR: How would you place your father in the whole history of jazz guitarists?
JP: I think he was a sideman's sideman for years, coming out of the studios of New York. I would put him in the Top 10 of the guys. There's obviously Joe Pass...I think Wes Montgomery is a god, like Django is a god. There were different degrees of guitar player. But of the jazz guys, I definitely think my Dad's in there because I think he was a complete guitarist. He was as good a sideman as he was a leader. He could play as good single notes as he could accompany somebody. I really think he had all the gifts, and that was just as important to him as being in the Top 10. He wouldn't worry about being in the Top 10 as long as he was on the Paul McCartney record too. He was just as happy playing rhythm guitar behind Paul McCartney as he would behind me. He was just a complete guitar player.
MR: What do you think about this Jessica Molaskey person?
JP: I think she's responsible for why Double Exposure exists. I think the thing about her, she challenges me on a musical level. It's such a great gift to work together. She's got such great ideas. Her ideas are so good that people think they come from me. They can't believe that this woman, this "Broadway" person could think up these things. They would say, "Oh it's John's arrangement." I would go, "It's not my arrangement, that's her idea. These are all her ideas that we made happen." She says, "I think we have to do this, we have to put 'Cloudburst' with 'Not Getting Married Today.'" We have such a good time working together, we're constantly challenging each other to come up with things, so Double Exposure really comes from doing a couple of records. She did one calledSitting in Limbo, which is really where this Double Exposure comes from. There are ideas on that record that have come to fruition on Double Exposure. I love working with Jessica because she's a great musician and she's just smart as smart.
MR: By the way, you collaborated on "Take A Lot of Pictures," the original track on Double Exposure.
JP: Right. Well, you know, we wrote that a couple of years ago. That was also a Frank Sinatra expression. When we would watch him backstage getting his picture taken, they'd say, "We take another picture, Frank?" He'd say, "Take a lot of pictures," implying he wasn't coming back, so take a lot of pictures. Another I read in a book called The Way You Wear Your Hat was the expression, "It looks like rain." If someone was coming up and talking to him and he wanted to get out of there, he would say to his buddy, "It looks like rain," and they knew that was the signal to get out. That was the idea. I gave those two phrases to Jess and said, "We should write something about that." That's basically how the songs get written. She says okay and she writes the lyrics, and I put it to music. It's mostly her lyric and my music, and we set it to "Popsicle Toes." The idea of after "Popsicle Toes," after the initial hit of "how fun was that," you realize that things have gotten a little crazy.
MR: "Popsicle Toes," throwing in a Michael Franks song.
JP: The Art Of Tea.
MR: Yup, The Art Of Tea. Were you a fan of Kenny Rankin?
JP: Oh please! That was another record that was brought in, Silver Morning. I really loved The Kenny Rankin Album with the Don Costa arrangements. That was just phenomenal. All my early coffee house guitar playing in college..."Here's That Rainy Day," "House of Gold," "Haven't We Met," and "Penny Lane," all from those two records.
MR: He was an artist who never was as big a star as he should have been.
JP: It's true, it was really amazing. We had him on our radio show and he just played the guitar for two hours. We were happy enough to just let him do that. Then he passes away just about two years later. It was funny because he made his way to New York and we all were able to hook up. Everybody got to be friends with him for a brief moment of time. But that voice, and that guitar playing was always so singular. You always felt, "THERE'S something. Geez. What a sound!" It was just amazing.
MR: Yeah, his version of "Birembau," his originals "SIlver Morning," "Haven't We Met," and "Doing It In The Name Of Love," plus his amazing guitar playing...wow. Everybody forgets just how great a guitar player he was too.
JP: Yeah, "People Get Ready," I think he did too on one of those records. He was a wonderful guitar player and that voice was just soaring.
MR: Yeah, and I would say that he's got the definite version. That was on Silver Morning too.
JP: Yeah, that's on the John Pizzarelli iPod. (laughs)
MR: (laughs) Well I don't want to take up too much more of your time, but I want to slip in your cover of "Diamond Girl," which has that Miles Davis vibe going on.
JP: Thank you! It was funny because a year ago, we got to bring the horns into Birdland. I had a lot of these arrangements started, we did "Walk Between the Raindrops." We actually had Thad Jones' "Tip Toe" written out for the four horns. It was these kinds of literal translations. We even had "So What" before "Diamond Girl." It was really too much. So what I said to Don was, "We gotta get rid of the bass line, but we can keep the vibe of that song." But then I thought "Diamond Girl" is like "So What," so that little horn figure in there informed the Miles Davis business, and then we had our little Miles Davis solo, and we had our Coltrane thing in the back. I was really happy with that. I really thought that "Diamond Girl" and "I Feel Fine" really bookended the record with the idea ofDouble Exposure.
MR: Considering your back catalog, this album seems like it's the result of equal parts experience and experiment.
JP: Well, thank you very much. I'm really pleased with it because it's probably 10 years in the making. I've been putting those songs on lists and coming up with ideas, but finally, coming up with a way to present it and I'm really pleased with it. It was long road to hoe to get to this.
MR: John, thank you for all of your time. You were very generous with your time, and we got a lot of great stories. Let's do this again, it seems like there is still an awful lot we still hadn't talked about.
JP: I have plenty of time, anytime. Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
1. I Feel Fine / Sidewinder
2. Harvest Moon
3. Traffic Jam / The Kicker
4. Ruby Baby
6. Rosalinda's Eyes
7. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
8. Drunk On The Moon / Lush Life
9. Walk Between The Raindrops
10. Free Man In Paris
11. Take A Lot Of Pictures
12. I Can Let Go Now
13. Diamond Girl
Transcribed by Narayana Windenberger
John Pizzarelli listed on Elysa Gardner's USA Today Playlist
May 8, 2012
By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
10 intriguing tracks found during the week's listening:
Pleasant Valley Sunday, Carole King
King gave then-husband Gerry Goffin's sardonic lyric a little more bite than The Monkees would on her 1966 song, now on The Legendary Demos.
I Am the One Who Will Remember, Dar Williams
Williams' In the Time of Gods opens with this stringent, sobering account of ravaged innocence.
Baby Please Come Home Again, Rebecca Pidgeon
Pidgeon's husband, David Mamet, is the surprising co-writer of this tender, intimate, country-flavored plea, on Slingshot.
The Lonely Kind, Marty Stuart
The roots-music veteran bares a broken heart with grace on Nashville, Vol. 1: Tear the Woodpile Down.
Watch What Happens, Kara Lindsay
This Alan Menken/Jack Feldman charmer, on the Newsies original Broadway cast recording, brightened a bleak musicals season.
A Lullaby for Midnight, Vanessa Williams
Williams lends her usual elegant warmth to this Rupert Holmes ballad, on Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project.
Walk Between the Raindrops, John Pizzarelli
The jazz singer/guitarist revisits Donald Fagen's tune with playful wit on Double Exposure, out next Tuesday.
Blood for Poppies, Garbage
The band returns in full force on this shiny-hot single from Not Your Kind of People, arriving May 22.
Diamond to Stone, Rebecca Ferguson
The British X Factor alum's shivery, grainy voice is a good fit for this retro-soulful track on Heaven, due in the USA May 29.
Love Hangover, Diana Ross
The expanded edition of 1976's Diana Ross reintroduces the breathless disco gem in single, album and alternative formats.
SINGER/GUITARIST JOHN PIZZARELLI DELIVERS TWICE THE MUSICAL PUNCH ON NEW ALBUM
Double Exposure set for release on May 15, 2012
For nearly 30 years, guitarist John Pizzarelli has explored various corners of the jazz landscape and merged a variety of styles into a single, distinctive signature sound. On any given recording – indeed, in any given song – one is likely to encounter an entertaining convergence of jazz, swing, the American songbook, pop, bossa nova and more.
Double Exposure, Pizzarelli's latest recording on Telarc – a division of Concord Music Group – focuses on two distinct styles to make a single fine recording. Set for release on May 15, 2012, Double Exposure is a collection of tunes by some of the great pop songwriters of his own generation that are framed squarely within traditional jazz arrangements.
"I didn't want to just cover these songs, but rather find a way to present them that was unusual and interesting'" says Pizzarelli. "I think growing up in a household that had two specific record collections became the inspiration – my father's jazz records, my sisters' record collection and records brought around by their friends."
The result is a fascinating and engaging musical hybrid. Double Exposure draws from a diverse pool of some of the best pop songwriters of the past five decades: Lennon and McCartney, Neil Young, James Taylor, Leiber and Stoller, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell and others. Woven into these memorable compositions are threads of jazz borrowed from figures like Wes Montgomery, Billy Strayhorn, Thad Jones and John Coltrane.
Pizzarelli is backed by his touring and studio band, featuring keyboardist Larry Fuller, bassist (and brother) Martin Pizzarelli and drummer Tony Tedesco. In addition, organist Larry Goldings assists on a number of tracks. A four-piece horn section arranged by Don Sebesky includes Tony Kadleck (trumpet, flugelhorn), John Mosca (trombone, euphonium), Kenny Berger (baritone sax, bass clarinet) and Andy Fusco (alto and tenor saxophone, clarinet), providing accents and embellishments along the way.
The 13-song set opens with the upbeat and uptempo "I Feel Fine/Sidewinder," a track which Pizzarelli describes as "Lennon and McCartney meet Lee Morgan." Before the recording sessions got under way in the fall of 2011, he and his band initially road tested the song at a Birdland gig in New York City. "There were kids there who were saying, 'Hey, we loved the way you played 'Sidewinder' inside a Beatles tune!'"
This jazz-flavored rendition of the Beatles classic is the latest chapter in the prolific Pizzarelli-McCartney association that has developed over the past few months. Pizzarelli appears on several tracks on McCartney's new album, Kisses on the Bottom, a collection of standards (plus two McCartney originals) released in early February. Two days after the release, Pizzarelli performed with Sir Paul at an iTunes concert at Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood, California. The two also performed together at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on February 12, 2012.
Pizzarelli's intriguing renditions of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and Billy Joel's "Rosalinda's Eyes" are a nod to the guitarist's high school and college years – a period during which he played in numerous pop and rock cover bands – while "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" is his perky take on the Allman Brothers' instrumental, augmented by themes from Wes Montgomery's "Four On Six." The combination was "something that just came out of the blue," says Pizzarelli. "I was sitting up in my cabin, thinking about an instrumental. I thought about all the instrumental tracks the Allman Brothers have recorded over the years, and 'Elizabeth Reed' immediately came to mind."
In "Walk Between the Raindrops," the Donald Fagen song from his 1982 solo recording, The Nightfly, includes arranger Don Sebeskey's homage to trumpeter Thad Jones.
The slinky, sly-sounding "Take a Lot of Pictures" is the album's sole original track, as penned by Pizzarelli and his wife, singer/actor Jessica Molaskey. The title comes from an old expression by Frank Sinatra, who was known to grow weary of backstage fans with overactive cameras. "Take a lot of pictures" was Sinatra's way of implying that he wouldn't be returning to the venue anytime soon. Likewise, the Pizzarelli/Molaskey song is a bitterly comic sendoff to a love gone sour.
The album closes with a whimsical reading of Seals and Crofts' 1973 hit, "Diamond Girl," which quotes directly from Miles Davis' iconic "So What" and features an expressive trumpet solo by Tony Kadleck.
"There was a lot more to this record than just writing out chords to these songs and saying, 'Let's play this,'" Pizzarelli says of Double Exposure. "I really worked hard on the arrangements. I worked on what everybody would play. And I sat down with the guitar and worked everything out before I even sat down with the group."
"It's a different kind of record, but it's also something that I've been wanting to do for several years, so I'm glad I finally got to do it. It was a matter of finding the jazz to go inside the pop song, and doing it in a way that would be entertaining and engaging."
"In each one of these songs, there are two things happening at once – a pop dimension and a jazz dimension – but at the same time they blend together very well. This is what my career has been about, ever since I first became aware of music and ever since I first picked up the guitar. This record provides the listener with an exposure to both of these very significant dimensions."
Album Review - DOUBLE EXPOSURE
Jazz in Pop: John Pizzarelli's Double Exposure March 30, 2012
Jazz legend John Pizzarelli is getting ready to release his new album Double Exposure, a collection of great pop oldies rearranged and recast in a jazz style. Pizzarelli is one of the most versatile guitarists and singers on the jazz scene today. His latest album, which is proving the idea that jazz and pop can exist together, has taken everyone by surprise.
With a collection of 13 pop, rock and folk songs from a different generation, Double Exposure opens with Pizzarelli's reversioned Beatles' upbeat song," I feel Fine". The soft spoken Pizzarelli and his band initially road tested songs during a performance last year at the renowned Birdland jazz club in New York City. Pizzaelli and his band played Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" incorporating the Beatles' "I Feel Fine" inside. The mix was well-received and drew applause.
Pizzarelli also rearranged other oldies on Double Exposure, including Neil Young's "Harvest Moon," James Taylor's "Traffic Jam," the Allman Brothers classic "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed," Joni Mitchell's "Free Man In Paris," Tom Waits' "Drunk On The Moon," Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's "Ruby Baby," and songs by Billy Joel and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan.
The album ends with a subtle remake of Seals and Crofts' 1973 soft rock hit "Diamond Girl," which quotes directly from Miles Davis' 1950's iconic "So What."
"It's funny – when we first did 'Diamond Girl' and a lot of the horn songs we actually got to play live at Birdland about a year ago just to see if this idea was anything," said Pizzarelli in an interview with VOA's Jazz Beat. "We actually played 'So What' and then sang 'Diamond Girl'." Pizzarelli said people liked the new style very much.
John Pizzarelli was born in New Jersey in April 1960. He grew up in a house crowded with guitars, and everybody in his family played an instrument at one time or another. His father is the iconic guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli.
"There were guitars in the house all the time. I once joked that if you wanted to sit down on the couch, you had to move a guitar you know," said Pizzarelli who is known for his charming stage presence. "And eventually you say I'm moving this guitar very much I've got to try and play it. It was just something that we did and I didn't even realize that I was making a living doing it."
In his 20s, John Pizzarelli used to go out on jazz, pop and rock gigs, having a good time and getting a check. "It was just something that we enjoyed. I was making a living doing it. So, It's very interesting how this sort of evolved," he said.
Besides his father and sister, Pizzarelli was highly influenced by the legendary vocalist and pianist Nat King Cole, trumpeter Miles Davis, singer Frank Sinatra, pianist Duke Ellington, The Beatles, saxophonistStan Getz and songwriter-arranger-guitarist-pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim.
With more than 40 albums under his belt, Pizzarelli is a prolific guitaristwho has worked in a vast range of studio settings with many famous musicians – most recently in February – with Beatles legend Paul McCartney for an iTunes concert at Capital Records Studios in Hollywood, California.
"I made the record "Kisses on the Bottom" with him and Diana Krall was the piano player… and I got to play with him on the Grammy," Pizzarelli said. "He [Paul McCartney] is just as humble and as lovely a musician as you could find, and a really talented musician."
In 1998, Pizzarelli released his studio album, John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles, as a tribute to the Fab Four (The Beatles). The idea for one of the most talked-about albums was to recast and re-imagine some of the great oldies in a jazz setting. So he placed the songs into a different time as if someone else had performed them first. For instance, he rearranged "Here Comes The Sun" in a Brazilian Bossa Nova style – it was meant as a Jobim/Getz tribute.
Pizzarelli, who is also a radio host and a television personality, has just returned to the United States from a European tour where he performed and promoted Double Exposure. The album is slated for release in May.
John Pizzarelli - Double Exposure
3 1/2 stars
By Rick Anderson
On this album, jazz guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli pays simultaneous tribute to the pop music of his adolescence (Steely Dan, Billy Joel, the Allman Brothers, Elvis Costello) and the jazz tradition in which he, as a member of the celebrated Pizzarelli dynasty, was steeped from his earliest years. The album title refers to the fact that the program takes classic pop songs and puts them in jazz settings: thus you'll hear a cool bossa nova arrangement of Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris," a completely natural lounge-lizard setting of Tom Waits' "Drunk on the Moon," and a hard-swinging, boppish version of James Taylor's "Traffic Jam" that sounds like it was written for Manhattan Transfer and incorporates the Joe Henderson composition "The Kicker." There's nothing particularly revolutionary about this idea: the line separating pop music and jazz has always been fuzzyish anyway, and many jazz standards are actually showtunes. But Pizzarelli is an unusually gifted arranger as well as a drop-dead wonderful guitarist, and on several of these arrangements he suggests entirely new ways of thinking about these familiar songs. Consider, for example, his subtly elegant use of organ and violin on Neil Young's "Harvest Moon," or the way he sneaks material from Wes Montgomery's "Four on Six" into a snappy rendition of the Allman Brothers' instrumental "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." It's also true that Pizzarelli is not gifted with a conventionally beautiful voice. He is, however, an excellent singer: listen the how he makes the most of what he's got on his voice-and-guitar bossa nova setting of Billy Joel's "Rosalinda's Eyes." What's charming about this album, beyond the sheer quality of the songs and the arrangements, is Pizzarelli's obvious and genuine love for this really broad gamut of material, and his insight into the varied qualities that make them all great songs.
March 22, 2012
New John Pizzarelli EPK for the making of his new record, DOUBLE EXPOSURE
Feb. 9, 2012
John Pizzarelli performed with Paul McCartney for an ITunes concert at the legendary Capital Records Studios in Hollywood, CA. on February 9 2012. Paul performed many of the classic standards and originals live from his latest release, "Kisses On the Bottom", which John also played on.
Update - you can get the link at PaulMcCartney.com.
Kisses on the Bottom (Hear Music)
The music on Paul McCartney's first "standards" album "Kisses on the Bottom" floats over you like a light mist on a cool spring morning in an English garden as the sun glints through the haze. You want to inhale the fresh air, scent the fragrance of buds blooming as the sky clears to a serene deep blue. Sitting on the grass and whistling to himself, Mr. McCartney exudes the unassuming charm of country gentleman in a good mood.
For "Kisses on the Bottom" breaks the mold of the typical standards album by a rock performer. Far from a solemn, self-conscious act of reclamation, it is more a jaunty tip of the hat to the pop music of his parents' generation. Every element of the album, produced by Tommy LiPuma, contributes the feel of a perfectly fit custom-tailored suit. The rhythm arrangements by Diana Krall, who plays piano on most of the cuts, have a crispy, airy bounce. In addition to members of Ms. Krall's band, the guest guitarist John Pizzarelli gives the instrument a buoyant ukulele-like sound
Mr. McCartney, whose voice is almost as youthful as in the Beatles' glory days, doesn't explore lyrical subtext. He trusts in the reliable pleasures of catchy pop tunes, of moon, June and spoon. Others might inflect "It's Only a Paper Moon," with sarcasm or deliver "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" as a self-help harangue, but not Mr. McCartney. It is all about ease and relaxation in the moment.
The album's cheeky title comes from a phrase in the opening cut, the Fats Waller standard, "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter." The gossamer orchestrations by two heavyweights — Johnny Mandel and Alan Broadbent — float like milkweed behind Mr. McCartney's voice.
A slightly wistful version of Irving Berlin's "Always" sits comfortably beside two winsome McCartney originals, "My Valentine" and "Only Our Hearts." The closest the album comes to darkness is in a moderately slowed-down "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Get Yourself Another Fool," a minor R&B hit, from 1949, for Charles Brown later recorded by Sam Cooke. "Bye Bye Blackbird" is a celebration of chasing away the blues once and for all: no antidepressants needed. Eric Clapton's guitar lends "Get Yourself Another Fool," a blues flavor, but the hue is pale baby blue, not inky. Frank Loesser's trickily metered arithmetic lesson "Inchworm," from the movie "Hans Christian Andersen," is aimed at the child inside us all.
More than 40 years have passed since Mr. McCartney infuriated the rock counterculture with the exquisite sketches of his first two post-Beatles records, "McCartney" and "Ram." The rage and contempt heaped on an artist who was dismissed as trivial and reactionary and a betrayer of the Beatles' legacy has long since dissipated. What distinguishes Mr. McCartney's music, then and now, is his utter lack of grandiosity.
As he sang all those years ago in a slightly defensive tone: "Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs/ And what's wrong with that?"
By sticking to his guns and insisting on being himself, he has answered his own question: nothing at all.
Review: Live Jazz: John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey at Disney Hall
By Don Heckman
Who would have thought that Tuesday night's Disney Hall performance by jazz guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli would wind up in a singalong with the entire audience joining in on "The Twelve Days of Christmas?"
The answer is anyone who's ever seen Pizzarelli, his trio, and his wife, singer Jessica Molaskey, in action. Together, they have created some of the jazz world's most consistently engaging entertainments. Like Louis Armstrong, Dave Frishberg, Dizzy Gillespie and Mose Allison, among others, they've done so in an irresistibly swinging jazz setting. As they did on Tuesday.
Their set was especially enlivened by the blending of seemingly dissimilar songs into lyrically pointed combinations. Not quite medleys, they were more like a contrapuntal tossing back and forth of words and music. The pairing of Irving Berlin's "The Best Things Happen When You Dance" and Bobby Troup's "Nice Girls Don't Stay For Breakfast," for example, was a perfect opportunity for Pizzarelli to play the seducing male to Molaskey's reluctant female. On another blend, Molaskey accurately noted the co-dependency aspects of the lyrics to "I Want To Be Happy" ("But I can't be happy, until you're happy, too"), while Pizzarelli responded casually with "Sometimes I'm Happy."
And there were other blends, equally pointed in their own ways: Stephen Sondheim's "Buddy's Eyes" with Billy Joel's "Rosalinda"; Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game" with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Aguas de Marco."
Backed by the solid support of pianist Larry Fuller (who's soloing was one of the evening's musical highlights) bassist (and brother) Martin Pizzarelli and drummer Tony Tedesco, the vocal excursions were balanced by plenty of opportunities for Pizzarelli's high flying guitar lines to solo, often in unison with his vocal scatting – notably so on "Sleigh Ride." Molaskey, a Broadway star in her own right, applied her warm and supple voice to a touching reading of "I'll Be Home For Christmas." and Pizzarelli touched on the real meaning of the holiday with an equally moving "Count Your Blessings."
But back to "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It almost seemed like another of his throwaway lines when Pizzarelli proposed a singalong of the old classic, assigning the melody of one of the days to each of the many individual audience areas. And there was faltering along the way, especially from some of the smaller sections. But, unexpectedly, it all came together – with the upper center section offering a near-professional version of "Five golden rings" – and the others responding with, at the very least, plenty of enthusiasm.
As I suggested above, it wasn't exactly what one expected at a jazz concert. But it was delightful, nonetheless. As was the balance of this utterly enjoyable evening. Call it a musical Christmas present from the Pizzarellis – a Christmas present to remember.
November 29, 2011
The Ballad of John and Jessica - From The New York Times
By JOE NOCERA
Published: November 25, 2011
For the last five years, the Cafe Carlyle, perhaps the premier cabaret venue in New York City, has devoted the month of November to an act featuring John Pizzarelli, a jazz guitarist and vocalist, and his wife, Jessica Molaskey, a Broadway actress and singer.
My year wouldn't be complete if I didn't go. Their exacting musicianship; their ability to weave the Beatles and Sondheim, Jobim and Cole Porter into a seamless set; and their hilarious banter (John is a born ham, Jessica a born foil) invariably make it a memorable evening. I admire the way they make it look easy.
I also admire something else about them: the way they have built their careers. In their late 40s when the Carlyle first booked them, they are the opposite of "overnight sensations." They have been working at their professions since they were teenagers.
They have had their setbacks. The one time Jessica thought she had landed a breakout role in a musical, the show failed to make it to Broadway. The one time John got a big push from a major record label, the record flopped. But they persevered, never mailed it in and, eventually, were rewarded. From where I'm sitting, their careers can serve as a model for a lot more people than just musicians and actors.
Jessica was 19 when she moved to New York from the small town of Wolcott, Conn., determined to be an actress. Her first audition landed her a role in the ensemble of "Oklahoma!," which was being revived. "I thought it was going to be like that forever," she recalls.
But, of course, it wasn't. Although she had roles in many of the big-budget musicals that rolled through New York — "Cats," "Les Miz" and the like — the parts were small, and the work ultimately stultifying.
So, in her late 20s, she stopped auditioning for can't-miss musicals and gravitated instead to the riskier work of younger composers who were building their own careers. She remembers doing shows for $200 a week — and loving it. "I was a lot more broke, and a lot happier. I was learning things."
John, meanwhile, had grown up around jazz. His father is Bucky Pizzarelli, the great guitarist. Bucky "didn't teach me how to play the guitar, but he taught me how to love the guitar," John says. As he got good, his father would take him on the occasional gig, but John was also playing in rock bands and writing songs.
"I thought I was going to be the next Billy Joel," he says.
The light bulb went on when he started listening to Nat King Cole recordings. "I sorta said, 'I'm gonna play this music,' " says John. That's what he did in his 20s and early 30s — playing in bars in New Jersey, where he grew up, and in New York City for $40 a night, "barely paying the bills."
His father would still sometimes employ him — and that would earn him a real paycheck. When I asked John what he learned from playing with his father, his answer was immediate: "Every gig counts."
John and Jessica met in 1997, when they were both cast in a short-lived musical called "Dream." They married, had a daughter, and built a life together.
For the most part, they continued their separate careers: John toured constantly with a quartet that included his brother Martin on bass, and Jessica began cutting records in addition to taking the occasional part in a musical. There was never a moment when their careers took off, but slowly, steadily, they each built a substantial, praise-worthy life in music and acting.
John knows that he is never going to be as rich or as famous as Billy Joel. He says he is O.K. with that. Jessica still yearns for that breakout Broadway role. But if it doesn't happen, she says she'll be fine.
When she first came to New York, Jessica recalled the other day, her brother dropped her off and then drove back home to Connecticut.
"He told me recently that he felt so guilty leaving me there," she said. "He wasn't sure I was going to survive. And there were days when I wondered that myself. I remember going to an audition and thinking, 'If I don't get this job I'm going to die, because I only have a dollar to my name.' But guess what? I didn't get the job, and I didn't die. Kids get bailed out now," she added. "There is something to be said for the resolve it takes to make it on your own."
She thought about that for a minute. John, who was sitting next to her, looked over at her with a smile.
"There is something really lovely about putting one foot in front of the other," she said, finally. "You wake up one day and you have a nice career, and a 13-year-old daughter and a house in the country. There is something about the way you earned it that is gratifying."
Regis talks about seeing John & Jessica live. He mentions them around 7 1/2 minutes into the video.
MUSIC REVIEW - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Fusions in Song and Life
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: November 6, 2011
Instead of science fiction, think of it as alchemy. That is one way to view John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey's brilliant new show, "When Worlds Collide," at the Café Carlyle. Their pairings of songs and voices from different eras and genres (the Beatles with Woody Herman, Antonio Carlos Jobim with Stephen Sondheim, and many more) are not destructive musical collisions in which planets explode. Instead of repelling each other, these alien climates, once in proximity, fuse, generate electricity and create an environment larger and more complex than the sum of its parts.
The same might be said of the chemistry between Mr. Pizzarelli, the jazz guitarist, crooner and wit, and his wife, Ms. Molaskey, a jazz-wise theater singer who deconstructs songs with a subtle but devastating psychological acuity. In personal terms "When Worlds Collide" might be described as a portrait of their marriage.
Consider the couple's exquisite melding of "Shine On, Harvest Moon" with Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" at Tuesday's opening-night show. Their voices and Mr. Pizzarelli's delicate guitar meshed and embraced to evoke a picture of longtime lovers stepping outdoors to dance in autumn moonlight and reaffirm their bond. Just as magical was a bossa nova arrangement of Billy Joel's "Rosalinda's Eyes" gently imparted by Mr. Pizzarelli, playing a Puerto Rican musician dreaming of his muse; it was attached to Mr. Sondheim's "In Buddy's Eyes," a wife's delusional certainty of how she appears to her husband, sung by Ms. Molaskey.
The most ambitious instrumental hybrid filtered the Allman Brothers classic "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" through Wes Montgomery's "Four on Six." The accompanying musicians included Larry Fuller, a pianist as fleet on the keyboard as Mr. Pizzarelli is on guitar, Martin Pizzarelli (the guitarist's younger brother) on bass and Tony Tedesco on drums.
In the light of his partnership with Ms. Molaskey, Mr. Pizzarelli's solo renditions of heavy-duty ballads like the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and Mr. Sondheim's "Sorry-Grateful" took on a prayerful intensity. As he crooned "God Only Knows" in a near murmur, you listened more intently than you might otherwise to what the song is actually saying: "God only knows what I'd be without you." The Sondheim song, from "Company," describes the emotional ambivalence embodied in coupling: "You're sorry-grateful, regretful-happy." Mr. Pizzarelli's performances of both songs in his wife's presence conveyed a boyish plaintiveness.
Singing Paul Simon's "Hearts and Bones," a song about a traveling couple considering their uncertain future together, Ms. Molaskey was given the last word about the collision of two very different people. The tone was hopeful. "You take two bodies and you twirl them into one/Their hearts and their bones/And they won't come undone."
John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey perform through Nov. 26 at the Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, Manhattan; (212) 744-1600, thecarlyle.com.
photo by Richard Termine for The New York Times
Minneapolis Star Tribune
How do you feel about "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" or the ever popular tune"Johnny One Note"?
Not your cup of pink lemonade? Well, they certainly aren't mine, untilJohn Pizzarelli takes over and sings the bejubies out of them. Yes, his name really is Pizzarelli and he is the guitar-playing son of the great jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli.
The thing of it is -- John is a greatly entertaining guy, as he showed at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant about a week ago. Now, I have known this and followed his career for some time, but so have lots of other people of all ages because they packed the place the night we were there.
The main thing about Pizzarelli is his choice of music. It might be considered odd by some of today's kids, but he is wonderful when he sings it. A tune by Bobby Troup, for example, "Lemon Twist," was nifty. I knew Troup and his most famous lyric, "Route 66," but"Lemon Twist" was new to me, and oh, so good.
"Sweet Lorraine,'' Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and a somewhat upbeat version of the old ballad "With a Song in My Heart,'' all scored for Pizzarelli. And although he agreed that he is not Sinatra -- that's the late Frank Sinatra, friends -- he sang Sinatra's "Nancy With the Laughing Face" with great care and much charm.
Pizzarelli and his trio of piano, drums and his brother on bass, seem to like Minneapolis and it showed. Among other things he said was that we have a "marvelous new baseball stadium.'' He added: "You took the roof off. It is great."
So it is and so is Pizzarelli -- who also raised the roof nicely. Let's hope he comes back soon.
John is featured in the April 2011 issue of Wine and Jazz magazine
The New York Observer - October 20, 2010
Never miss a chance to see John Pizzarelli.
By Rex Reed
Read article (PDF)
Lightens My Sadness, She Livens My Days
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: October 6, 2010
Time warps, time lines and time signatures: as John Pizzarelli crooned Irving Berlin's "Count Your Blessings" with the tenderness of a father lulling a sleepless child, the voice of his wife and musical partner, Jessica Molaskey, slipped in behind him to sing Jonathan Larson's "Seasons of Love," from the musical "Rent."
Those songs from different eras both play with the notion of measuring time. And to hear them delicately woven into each other at the Café Carlyle at Tuesday's opening-night performance of their new show, "The Heart of a Saturday Night," was to confront a mystery. How long does it take to get from here to there? How long is long?
The Berlin standard speaks in a child's language about counting blessings instead of sheep as a technique for an insomniac to release anxiety and drift into dreamland. The Larson song attaches time to a number — "five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes," the number of minutes in a year — then throws up its hands. "How do you measure a year in the life?" it asks, then goes on to ponder the impossibility of quantifying love.
The mingling of the two songs is one of several brilliant juxtapositions in a show that lend it a philosophical dimension rarely encountered in a nightclub. There is a good-bad opening section that joins DeSylva, Brown and Henderson's "I Want to Be Bad" with Cole Porter's "It's Bad for Me," followed by the Gershwins' "Oh! Lady Be Good," and Richard Rodgers's "Something Good."
Stephen Sondheim's "You Must Meet My Wife" from "A Little Night Music" (sung by Mr. Pizzarelli), is joined to Joni Mitchell's "Conversation" (sung by Ms. Molaskey) to evoke his-and-hers views of relationships that are much more complicated than their first-person narrators realize. Ms. Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" is attached to a Brazilian samba, "Aquelas Coisas Todas," that pumps it with adrenaline and carries it into the rain forest.
A swing section of the show, includes Basie and Ellington standards buoyantly swung by Mr. Pizzarellion guitar, his younger brother, Martin Pizzarelli, on bass; Larry Fuller on piano; and Tony Tedesco on drums. John Pizzarelli's signature scatting along with his guitar is more aggressive than before without losing its euphoric lightness. His version of "Satin Doll" (sung in a playfully seductive voice) was embellished with a melodic guitar solo that pushed the instrument's range and dynamics to its limits.
A word about Mr. Fuller: In his amazing gossamer piano solos, he sprinkles stardust on whatever song he plays; you hold your breath in wonder. The ensemble's seamless blend has a little more punch this year, thanks to Mr. Tedesco's samba and bossa nova beats in a program in which the sound of Brazil, mostly by way of João Gilberto, is a continuing undercurrent.
The couple's musical and psychological chemistry, in which they arrive from opposite places and affectionately stretch each other, is something to behold. Ms. Molaskey's emotionally edgy voice and interpretive acuity gives Mr. Pizzarelli's genial virtuosity a psychological context. Mr. Pizzarelli infuses Ms. Molaskey's theatrical style with swing and turns her into a jazz singer. Her version of the Tom Waits ballad "Drunk on the Moon," infused it a dreamy Beat euphoria reminiscent of Rickie Lee Jones.
It is not hyperbolic to say theirs is a musical match made in heaven; that is where this show will take you.
John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey appear through Nov. 6 at the Café Carlyle, at the Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, Manhattan; 212 744-1600, thecarlyle.com.
John Pizzarelli: Swingin' The House Down
August 22nd, 2010 12:30 am
Denver Jazz Examiner
There's something about touring with your own band. While economics and logistics sometimes prevent musicians from touring with a full group (and thus filling the ranks with local musicians), there is a special empathy present when an artist works with an entire group who knows the ensemble arrangements and knows each other's styles. John Pizzarelli proved this with a stunning set Saturday night at the Soiled Dove. Backed up by musicians who have worked with him for years--Larry Fuller (piano), Martin Pizzarelli (bass) and Tony Tedesco (drums)--the guitarist and vocalist led his group through a 2-hour set of tightly crafted arrangements. Although it was clear that the band was playing memorized charts, they played each tune as if it were the first time. They executed thrilling dynamic contrasts on a couple of the tunes and performed subtle nuances during a selection of Ellington songs.
Pizzarelli was quite the raconteur throughout the performance, setting up the football-related song "Jamboree Jones" with comments about audience members that he suspected would rather be at the Broncos game, and offering a stunning group of musical impersonations on an extended version of the song "I Like Jersey Best". He showed his mettle as a balladeer with a lovely medley of standard tunes, all performed with their verses. Starting the medley with a trio of Ira Gershwin lyrics, "They Can't Take That Away From Me", "I Can't Get Started" and "Love Is Here To Stay", he moved into "The More I See You" and by the time he got to "As Time Goes By", he could sense that the audience wanted to sing along, and he invited them to do so, reminding them of the lyrics right before they were to be sung.
By far, the highlight of the evening was the encore, an instrumental version of "C Jam Blues". Fuller started with an extended in-tempo unaccompanied introduction, and took the first solo after the theme statement. When the band kicked in, it was clear that they were ready to play! As the old saying goes, they could swing you into bad health, and when Pizzarelli took the solo spotlight, he burned with fiery intensity.
Performances like Pizzarelli's Denver show are what keep the older jazz styles alive and fresh. He knows how to entertain an audience with top-notch music, and his historical knowledge of all kinds of pop and jazz styles is quite impressive. It's easy to be optimistic about the future of jazz with musicians like Pizzarelli on the scene.
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin - July 22, 2010
Pizzarelli will reveal a different side at BU show
Jazz singer/guitarist will bring band from hit 'Ellington' tribute album
By Chris Kocher
A couple of years ago, John Pizzarelli teamed up with the Binghamton Philharmonic for a heartfelt tribute to the legendary Frank Sinatra and his songbook. Saturday night, local music fans will see a different side to the jazz singer/guitarist when he brings his Swing Seven to Binghamton University's Anderson Center. The combo includes the core musicians who made "Rockin' in Rhythm: A Tribute to Duke Ellington," an album that raced up the jazz charts after its release earlier this year... read full article
"Rockin' In Rhythm"/Cadence Magazine July 2010
John Pizzarelli has added his name to the long list of those who have mounted tributes to Edward Kennedy Ellington. His band, too, is stocked with the usual prospects, musicians likely to be conversant with the Ducal song book. Don Sebesky’s arrangements for what Pizzarelli calls his Swing Seven are functional and, perhaps, a bit on the obvious side, but frame the leader’s relaxed vocals tastefully and give Tony Kadleck and John Mosca opportunities for some smeary Ellington touches. Things pick up considerably on a non-vocal “C Jam” workout featuring some sturdy tenor from studio visitor Harry Allen and hot fiddle from Aaron Weinstein, who, though listed as a “guest” in the album’s personnel roster, is described as a “new team member” in Pizzarelli’s insert notes. Father Pizzarelli (Bucky to his friends and colleagues) has his solo moments on “Doll,” and the leader, his son, solos winningly on “Squeeze,” after which Jessica Molasky, the leader’s wife, joins with guest, Kurt Elling, for a vocal romp through Juan Tizol’s “Perdido” featuring some new add-on lyrics by the same Mrs. Pizzarelli. John’s vocal on “Too Soon” is a vocal highpoint: the Carl Sigman’s lyric remains one of the very best matched to an Ellington melody and this vocal is both tender and resolute. Harry Allen returns to play behind the leader’s “Got It Bad” vocal, and an exuberant medley of “Cottontail” and “Rockin’” brings proceedings to a very tidy, if somewhat Show-bizzy, close. Perhaps not a definitive Ellington tribute, but—nevertheless—most welcome.
Pizzarelli, g, vcl, arr; Martin Pizzarelli, b; Tony Tedesco, d; Larry Fuller, p; Tony Kadleck, tpt; John Mosca, tbn, E-flat alto horn; Andy Fusco, as, cl; Kenny Berger, bari s, b cl; Don Sebesky, arr. Special Guests: Harry Allen, ts; Kurt Elling, Jessica Molasky, vcl; Bucky Pizzarelli, g; Aaron Weinstein, vln. No recording date(s) specified, New York, NY.
THE ANN ARBOR OBSERVER
Dear Mr. Sinatra: John Pizzarelli plays Power Center.
by James Leonard
June 9, 2010
John Pizzarelli is no Frank Sinatra--though he does play him on stage, as he will in the Power Center on June 30 as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.
"Play" is the key word to understanding Pizzarelli. In the first place, not only is Pizzarelli no mean vocalist, he's also a virtuoso jazz guitarist, and over the past thirty years, he's played as well as sung his way through a big chunk of the Great American Songbook, the mythical collection of the greatest American pop songs of the past century. Along the way, Pizzarelli's done discs of songs dedicated to particular singers or styles, including Dear Mr. Sinatra, his 2006 disc of tunes associated with the man from Hoboken, some of which he'll be doing here, along with tunes from his most recent disc dedicated to Duke Ellington.
"From Sinatra, we'll do 'How About You,' 'You Make Me Feel So Young,' and 'Ring-a-ding-ding,'" says Pizzarelli on the line from Manhattan, "and 'Satin Doll,' 'Don't Get Around Much Any More,' 'Mellow Tone,' and a bunch of others from Ellington." Of course, Pizzarelli won't be alone on stage. "My quartet's coming with me: my brother [Martin] on bass, Larry Fuller on piano, and Tony Tedesco on drums."
How would Pizzarelli compare himself to Sinatra as a singer? "I don't compare with Frank Sinatra as a singer," he answers immediately. "Nobody compares with Frank Sinatra. He could do anything; he could adjust his voice and his style to whatever song he was singing." How would Pizzarelli describe his voice? "It's more conversational, more like Nat King Cole. And with maturity"--he pauses to laugh and correct himself--"with age, it's gotten better. I have a better understanding of how to use it. When you're young, you have a tendency to take it for granted. Plus I understand the songs better now."
"Play" is also the key word in the sense of the fun, the feeling of sheer joy, that suffuses Pizzarelli's performances. Not that he's not serious: his craft is too polished and his relationship to his material too respectful for him to be flippant. But listening to Pizzarelli, one gets the sense he enjoys playing and singing, enjoys music, and, especially, enjoys life. This quality comes out most purely in Pizzarelli's uncanny ability to scat sing along with his guitar solos. No matter what giddy arabesques he weaves on the guitar, his tenor is right there with him. How the hell does he do it? "I don't know," he replies and laughs again. "The voice follows the guitar is all I can say. I learned it from [bassist] 'Slam' Stewart and [guitarist] George Benson, who was my hero when I was young. But I've been doing it for so long, I don't know how I do it anymore!"
Photos from Jazz & Blues at Monmouth Park Racetrack, NJ
Downbeat Editors Choice
By Ed Enright
John Pizzarelli, Rockin' In Rhythm: A Tribute To Duke Ellington (Telarc)
Singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli, a master in the art of reinventing jazz classics, celebrates the music of Duke Ellington with his latest CD release. Like Ellington, Pizzarelli crafts his performances to spotlight the talents of his band members. In addition to a solo track of "Just Squeeze Me," four songs showcase his quartet—pianist Larry Fuller, bassist/brother Martin Pizzarelli and drummer Tony Tedesco—and seven tracks include the Swing Seven horns with arrangements by Don Sebesky. The CD also features guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (John's dad), vocalists Kurt Elling and Jessica Molaskey, saxophonist Harry Allen and violinist Aaron Weinstein.
June 8, 2010
From The New Yorker - Goings On About Town - Jazz and Standards
Blue Note - June 8 through 10 - The John Pizzarelli Quartet. Reaffirming the bond betwwen solid jazz and engaging entertainment, the guitarist and singer Pizzarelli is a welcome throw=back to a bygone era.
June 7, 2010
Music Review -- Jessica Molaskey-John Pizzarelli: Two treats in one
By Nelson Pressley
Why sing one song at a time when a little ingenuity will allow you to sing two? That was the approach over and over Friday night in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, where Broadway singer Jessica Molaskey and her husband, jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli, offered a cool collection of intriguing mash-ups.
George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," intricately plucked on a seven-string guitar and lightly crooned by Pizzarelli, melded into Molaskey's wistful delivery of "Killing Me Softly." Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Meditation," performed solo by Pizzarelli, segued seamlessly (and unexpectedly) into Billy Joel's "Summer, Highland Falls," with Molaskey bringing a honeyed tone to the melancholic mood.
The evening was presented as part of the Barbara Cook Spotlight series, a cabaret showcase for musical theater performers, but Pizzarelli and Molaskey really weren't interested in show tunes. The lone Stephen Sondheim selection ("Another Hundred People") was wrapped inside the vocalese patter of the jazzy "Cloudburst." "Small World" from "Gypsy" was the only musical theater number that stood on its own.
Still, why grouse? The musicianship was impeccable, with Pizzarelli leading his hot quartet (including his brother Martin on bass; their father is legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli) through arrangements that could be sinuous or scorching. The most interesting arrangement of the night didn't even involve Molaskey but featured Pizzarelli singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" as the band played "East St. Louis Toodle-oo," creating a gloomy, vaguely sinister and altogether fascinating sound.
Molaskey is a Broadway vet currently appearing in the musical drama "Sycamore Trees" at Signature Theatre, and her role on this evening was fitting in, not standing out. (The band is mid-tour -- Brazil is behind them, New York and Japan are ahead -- and they're sharp.) Molaskey, a solid singer with a reserved demeanor, and Pizzarelli, whose soft voice gets up and down the scale very well, shared melodies nimbly, and they communed particularly deeply as Molaskey sang Joni Mitchell's "I Had a King," accompanied by the low, resonant tones of Pizzarelli's seven-string.
Naturally, that tune was nestled in another one: Rodgers and Hart's "He Was Too Good to Me," and as the singers traded lines, the ginger counterpoint was exquisite.
Pressley is a freelance writer.
May 20, 2010
See John interviewed on station WCSH6. Click here.
May 18, 2010
John is on the cover of Jazziz. Click here to read.
April 15, 2010
Rockin' In Rhythm is #3 this week on the Jazzweek Jazz charts!
April 2010 : CD Review - JazzReview.com
John Pizzarelli, just coming off his current jewel box Rockin’ in Rhythm--A Duke Ellington Tribute, which is saturated with his signature groove , is laying out a fluid enigma of energized entertainment - in the name of jazz and Duke Ellington. His music sheets are a kaleidoscope of personalities with each spin. Never pressing down the same sway or attitude, Mr. Pizzarelli ... read full article
April 13, 2010 : CD Review - Where Y' At
The only time I ever saw the recently departed guitar legend and innovator Les Paul perform was in the mid 70s at my alma mater, Ramapo College of New Jersey. Playing alongside him that night was a relatively unknown but fast-rising fellow guitarist named Bucky Pizzarelli. Thirty-five years later, the acorn hasn’t fallen far from the tree as John Pizzarelli has followed in his now-famous ... read full article
April 12, 2010 : Rockin' in Rhythm review from The Viginian - Pilot
Throughout his rich career, jazz vocalist and guitarist has released several skilled and savvy tributes, to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Richard Rogers and more. But "Rockin' In Rhythm", his tribute to the bluesy elegance of Duke Ellington could be his best homage yet...
read full article
April 9, 2010 : A Bit of Broadway Nestled Along a Lake
LOOK, there’s a daffodil,” said the singer and actress Jessica Molaskey, pointing delightedly to a scrap of yellow poking out of the ground outside the wood-and-stone weekend cabin here that she shares with her husband, the jazz guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli and their two children... read full article
March 30, 2010 : Rockin' in Rhythm
He's the captain of cool. It seems no matter which songs he performs, guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli always delivers a certain amount of dashing and debonair. Rockin' in Rhythm: A Tribute to Duke Ellington is no exception... read full article
March 25, 2010 : Rockin in Rhythm: A Tribute to Duke Ellington
Jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli has a penchant for covering the music of other jazz greats. And who can blame him; he does an impeccable job at it... read full article
February 25, 2010 : John Pizzarelli delivers: Singing guitarist goes on an Ellington kick
It's hard to imagine John Pizzarelli crooning "Satin Doll" while plunking away on a banjo instead of his seven-string guitar. But that's how he got his start... read full article
February 22, 2010 : John Pizzarelli, 'Rockin' in Rhythm: A Trubute to Duke Ellington'
Duke Ellington tributes are a dime a dozen. In fact, they're probably down to a nickel a dozen. So why would singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli give us yet another one? Because he knows how to do it, and Duke Ellington tributes are a dime a dozen. In fact, they're probably down to a nickel a dozen. So why would singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli give us yet another one? Because he knows how to do it, and because his is so incredibly infectious... read full article
November 11, 2009 : John Pizzarelli featured on Borders.com
Check out Borders.com's LIVE episode of John and Mitch Albom inside the studio. This video gives a fascinating look at how jazz musicians work together, a few stories from the Pizzarelli household, and some spot-on impersonations that include Bob Dylan and Billie Holiday.
Part of a renowned musical family, John Pizzarelli is one of the great jazz guitarists and vocalists working today. His bouncy, conversational singing style and reverence for the American songbook stands out on his latest album, With a Song in My Heart.
To watch this video, visit www.borders.com.
October 28, 2009 : John and Jessica in the NY Observer
October 26, 2009 : John and Jessica in the Huffington Post
September 20, 2009 : ALL ABOUT JAZZ - Radio Deluxe Live: The Pizzarellis Go to Tanglewood
Jazz programming on national radio stations--the stuff you still get in your car or in your home for free, not satellite radio--is a rarity. That's an unfortunate thing, because lack of exposure to the music is one of the main obstacles to growing the audience.
But there are some gems out there, where people can tune in on radio and hear good music. One of those shows, which appears to be gaining ground since its inception in 1992, is Radio Deluxe, a show that noted jazz guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli and his wife Jessica Molaskey host each week. It's a weekly show the couple has been doing since 2005, usually taped in their apartment "high atop Lexington Avenue" on Manhattan's east side. Except that they recently moved to the west side. Except, again, that on Sept. 5, the couple brought their show to the annual Tanglewood Jazz Festival in Lenox, Mass., and taped it before a large audience.
The Tanglewood Jazz Festival is not a stranger to radio show tapings. NPR's Peabody award-winning "Piano Jazz," hosted by Marian McPartland, had been part of the festival in recent years. But McPartland, 90, is not up to traveling much these days. Festival organizers decided to keep with the theme of having a radio show done live at Tanglewood.
It proved to be a great choice... read full article
September 10, 2009 : JAZZ.com - John Pizzarelli at Tanglewood
Owing either to the weather (gorgeous); the format (pleasant and amusing); his music (engaging, solid and polished); his dad (still playing metronomic rhythm and velvety solo guitar); or his Foxwoods commercial, John Pizzarelli was the biggest draw of the Festival. Broadcasting his "Radio Deluxe" show from "high atop the Berkshires," Pizzarelli, his wife, singer Jessica Molaskey, and preteen daughter Madeline, hosted a two-hour throwback to the days when his Bucky sat by the AM/FM to hear the latest swing... read full article
September 3, 2009 : DETROIT NEWS - Detroit International Jazz Festival 2009: Pizzarellis make jazz a family affair
There are jazz families, and there are the Pizzarellis.
Cabaret singer Jessica Molaskey, John Pizzarelli's wife, once described the family she married into as the "Von Trapp family on martinis." An apt description, considering that patriarch Bucky Pizzarelli played guitar on countless sessions for Frank Sinatra (and Dion and every rocker on the East Coast), was in Doc Severinson's "Tonight Show" orchestra and a regular on the jazz circuit.
Molaskey and Pizzarelli carry on the urban sophisticate tradition with a radio show, "Radio Deluxe," (you can hear it at john pizzarelli.com).
Read full article
September 2, 2009 : HARTFORD COURANT - Jessica Molaskey, John Pizzarelli Have 'Model Modern Musical Marriage'
Because of their breezy sophistication and extra-wry wit, the jazz power couple, Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli, have become known affectionately as "the von Trapps on martinis," "the Nick and Nora [Charles] of cabaret" and the embodiment of "a model modern musical marriage."
When they perform together Saturday at 2 p.m. in a live version of their "Radio Deluxe" show at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in Lenox, Mass., you can see how perfectly attuned they are with their simpatico sense of swing and natural-flowing, witty repartee... read full article
August 27, 2009 : RIVERHEAD NEWS-REVIEW - Pizzarelli plays Peconic Bay Winery: Jazz crooner 'couldn't ask for anything more' in a genre-preserving career
"From high atop Lexington Avenue, this is Radio Deluxe."
If you're a follower of jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli, the words broadcast every Sunday afternoon from public radio station WLIU are a welcome change of pace from the usual classic rock and dance party sounds emanating from the airwaves... read full article
August 12, 2009 : BROADWAY WORLD - Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli Talk 'Radio Deluxe' & Tanglewood 2009
John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey are the epitome of the sophisticated urbane couple; a modern day, musical, William Powell and Myna Loy... read full article
July 31, 2009 : JAZZ WEEKLY - John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey at Catalinas
The thing that is so enjoyable about taking in a set by the John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey (also known as the Rob and Laura Petrie of the jazz scene) is that they satisfy on so many levels... read full article
July 25, 2009 : SEATTLE TIMES - A Swell Double Date with John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey
They're sort of the George Burns-Gracie Allen of music, but with a gender switch from that late, revered comedy couple.
Guitarist and crooner John Pizzarelli is the zany Gracie of this pair. And his singer-actress wife, Jessica Molaskey, plays the calm, droll George Burns role to perfection in their act... read full article
July 23, 2009 : SEATTLE TIMES - John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey at Jazz Alley
Music has always been a family affair for jazz guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli. His dad is esteemed guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, with whom he has played and toured extensively. Brother and bassist Martin Pizzarelli is a permanent part of John's combo. But one clan member we haven't seen him perform with in Seattle yet is wife, Jessica Molaskey... read full article
June 30, 2009 : NEW YORK TIMES - JPQT Backs Steven Pasquale in debut at Feinstein's
Finding yourself drafted by the New York Giants the day after picking up a football for the first time was how Steven Pasquale described his one-night cabaret debut at Feinstein�s at Loews Regency on Sunday evening. The stress hardly showed... read full article
June 3, 2009 : ALL ABOUT JAZZ CD Review By Andrew Velez - PIZZArelli Party The Arbors All Stars | Arbors Records
In his notes for this celebration of jazz and mostly fellow family musicians, John Pizzarelli observes, "Everyone in this group has had a moment where they knew what they wanted to do and how and what they wanted to play." High spirits are evident throughout this romp, mostly recorded in a take or two, without charts for the standards, lending an infectious air of spontaneity to the proceedings... read full article
May 22, 2009 : OMAHA WORLD HERALD - Song stylings make Pizzarelli an original
Guitarist John Pizzarelli's concert Thursday night at the Holland Performing Arts Center left me with two distinct impressions.
First, that all great singers are of Italian ancestry. And second, that all of them, at one time or another, lived in New Jersey.
Pizzarelli, a Jersey native through and through, was in Omaha to sing the songs made famous by another Italian-American denizen of New Jersey: Frank Sinatra.
"This is going to be a tribute to that other great Italian singer from New Jersey" is how Pizzarelli put it... read full article
May 21, 2009 : OMAHA WORLD HERALD - John Pizzarelli's got Sinatra under his skin
John Pizzarelli's big passion in high school was baseball.
"I kept trying out for teams but never made it," he said in a recent phone interview. "It eventually dawned on me that there was a reason I kept going to band practice."
Pizzarelli may have struck out in baseball, but he hit a home run in guitar, the instrument he'll use to lead tonight's concert at the Holland Performing Arts Center... read full article
May 14, 2009 : CENTRAL JERSEY - Under His Skin
John Pizzarelli knows exactly how to jazz things up in full swing. Among the prime contemporary interpreters of the great American songbook, this well-loved jazz guitarist, vocalist and bandleader brings his own distinct flavor to classic standards and late-night ballads...
Read full article
May 13, 2009 : MONTREAL - John Pizzarelli receives 2009 Ella Fitzgerald Award
John Pizzarelli is the 11th artist to receive the Ella Fitzgerald Award, established in 1999 by the Festival of Jazz of Montreal... read full article
May 7, 2009 : PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Jazz man John Pizzarelli keeps music in the family
The Great American Songbook has been taken off the shelf. Harmonically sophisticated and lyrically polished songs from the '30s, '40s and '50s, composed by Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen and many others, are once again popular music. Jazz guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, who was born in 1960, pegs the start of the revival to Linda Ronstadt's three recordings of standards in the early '80s... read full article
May 7, 2009 : HARTFORD, CT - 'Radio Deluxe' Goes On The Road To Tanglewood Jazz Festival
John Pizzarelli will bring his "Radio DeLuxe" radio show to Tanglewood.
Along with its usual all-star fare, The Tanglewood Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-6, offers something a bit different with the live taping of John Pizzarelli's and Jessica Molaskey's nationally syndicated radio program, "Radio DeLuxe."... read full article
May 6, 2009 : PITTSBURGH, PA - Guitarist-singer finds inspiration in Cole, Sinatra, Beatles
John Pizzarelli is darned certain some listeners look at him as having two sides: one as a guitarist and the other as a singer.
But that is not what he wants them to see.
"I don't distinguish between the two," he says, talking about the amount of time he spends on each side. "I don't think I want either to stand out."... read full article
April 26, 2009 : NEW YORK TIMES - A Life Lived on the Side: A Profile of Larry Fuller
To make a steady living as a jazz musician is in itself no mean feat, and Mr. Fuller has done so his whole life. His experience offers some insight into the requirements for survival as a working artist, especially in a specialty like jazz where fame and fortune are not realistic goals. Talent most certainly helps, but single-mindedness, passion, humility and the ability to live modestly seem critical too... read full article
April 12, 2009 : ST LOUIS POST DISPATCH - Pizzarelli to Headline Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival
Of particular interest is Pizzarelli, who will be heard in two settings: performing songs from his album "Dear Mr. Sinatra" (2006) with the Jazz Ensemble; and playing selections from his latest disc, "With a Song in My Heart," with his quartet. As on the album, Pizzarelli will be accompanied by his brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Larry Fuller on piano and Tony Tedesco on drums... read full article
April 2, 2009 : NEW YORK TIMES - Birdland review: Jazz-Pop With a Couple's Repartee
Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli added a delicious flavor to their deluxe line of theatrically savvy pop-jazz at Birdland on Tuesday evening. The new element giving an extra texture to a largely retrospective program headlined by Ms. Molaskey - who was supported by her husband, Mr. Pizzarelli, on guitar, and by his band (Larry Fuller on piano; Martin Pizzarelli, his brother, on bass; and Tony Tedesco on drums) - was Aaron Weinstein's violin... read full article
March 19, 2009 : ATLANTIC CITY MONTHLY - Cover Story
JOHN PIZZARELLI ON THE COVER OF ATLANTIC CITY WEEKLY
John Pizzarell would seem to be a natural for Atlantic City. The vocalist-guitarist is a swingin' jazz cat, who has a sincere appreciation for a bygone era in which Frank Sinatra was king. However, more than a decade has passed since Pizzarelli, who.ll be 49 in April, has played A.C... read full article