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After a decade of recording as a leader on several labels like RCA and Chesky, John Pizzarelli seems to have found a home at Telarc Jazz. Fast on the heels of his last his first Telarc trio release, Kisses In The Rain, Pizzarelli is delving even further into the style he established there: romantic standards.
The Telarc packaging promotes that concept to an even greater extent than it did in Kisses In The Rain. For Let There Be Love’s two-fold cardboard case features top-notch, soft-lit photography, shot by Andrew Southam, of Pizzarelli romancing a female one hopes is his wife. Liner notes with recording-session photography are tucked into the diagonally cut pocket facing the plastic CD holder.
What holds Pizzarelli back from leaping over the edge of gushiness is the understated excellence of his guitar playing as well as his interest in the tradition of consistently themed standards from the past 70 years by such composers as Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman and Dave Frishberg.
Pizzarelli’s passion for swing guitar playing, of course, is genetic. He follows his father Bucky, who followed his uncles, who performed with innovators like Joe Mooney, to establish a dynasty of string instrument professionals. Of course, brother Martin has been the trio’s bassist for 8 years. And on Let There Be Love, father Bucky joins the trio in tributes to two other guitar innovators: George Van Eps on “I Don’t Know Why (I Just Do)” and Les Paul on “Just One More Chance.”
Adding more texture to the group than Pizzarelli did on Kisses In The Rain, the Pizzarellis’ friend, saxophonist Harry Allen, provides sympathetic accompaniment and seamless solos to “All I Saw Was You” and “Everything I Have Is Yours,” somewhat akin to the voicing of a Stan Getz or a Zoot Sims. Accordionist Dominic Cortese and cello player Jesse Levy establish an Italian, orchestral flavor to “Da Vinci’s Eyes,” a simple and affecting waltz that Pizzarelli wrote with his wife Jessica Molaskey.
All 15 tunes being recorded spontaneously in one take to create an intimacy through song, Pizzarelli follows through with the concept of the album: unassuming accessibility combined with respect for the heritage of his instrument. Don’t let Pizzarelli’s understated technique on Let There Be Love fool you. John Pizzarelli, like his father, can command his instrument with a personalized mastery and overflowing joy that their seemingly effortless professionalism belies.
Track Listing: Let There Be Love, I
Personnel: John Pizzarelli, voice, guitar; Martin Pizzarelli, acoustic bass; Ray Kennedy, piano; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Harry Allen, tenor sax; Ken Peplowski, clarinet; Dominic Cortese, accordion; Jesse Levy, cello; Tony Tedesco, brushes