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John Pizzarelli and Tessa Souter: Classical Mashups

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The improvisatory nature of jazz provides a myriad of ways to enhance and tweak both the arrangement and performance of the music's canon. One approach being tried is the interpolation of one harmonically or rhythmically related song into another. Guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli and vocalist Tessa Souter have produced just such projects in their recordingsDouble Exposure and Beyond the Blue. This is intelligent and compelling music making. John PizzarelliDouble ExposureTelarc Records2012 John Pizzarelli's most recent recordings, Dear Mr. Sinatra (Telarc, 2006), With A Song In My Heart (Telarc, 2008) ...

NEW YORK BEAT

Pizzarelli / Ellington: Rockin' In Rhythm

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John Pizzarelli unveiled the contents of his new Telarc CD John Pizzarelli Rockin' In Rhythm: A Tribute to Duke Ellington at Birdland recently and the result was a musical explosion. It is easy to become bored with the plethora of “tribute" CDs issued almost every week these days, but this effort is truly something special.

From the moment Pizzarelli ascended the bandstand with his “Swing Seven" cohorts the room began rocking. Not only were patrons finger popping and foot stomping along with the usual Pizzarelli rhythmic intensity but they were laughing at the humorous “insider" patter, awed by some truly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Pizzarelli: Rockin' in Rhythm

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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.Items repeatedly culled from the American Songbook can become trite. But Pizzarelli has a knack for making the old seem new, fresh, and invigorating. He was very young when Ellington died in 1974, but his father, Bucky Pizzarelli, taught him much about one of the jazz world's most revered composers and band leaders. For this collection, Pizzarelli calls upon his regular ...

INTERVIEWS

John Pizzarelli: A Tribute to Duke Ellington

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John Pizzarelli is a man of many talents. Singer, guitarist, bandleader and arranger, depending on the circumstances Pizzarelli can step into any or all of these roles and perform at the highest level. Coming from one of the most successful families in jazz, his brother [Martin Pizzarelli] being an accomplished bassist and father the legendary seven-string guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, the New York-based guitarist has built a devoted fan base, inside and outside of the jazz world, that has made him one of the genres most recognized faces and voices. A fan--and strong proponent--of the great American songbook, Pizzarelli's Rockin' in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Pizzarelli: Rockin' in Rhythm: A Tribute to Duke Ellington

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John Pizzarelli is a walking, talking embarrassment of riches. He has a great pedigree, as his father, Bucky Pizzarelli), was a prodigious guitar talent (on a seven-string guitar, no less) with a voice like Chet Baker should have had. It is all this charm that Pizzarelli freely shares with us lesser mortals. Rockin' in Rhythm: A Tribute to Duke Ellington is a thematic collection picking up where his 2006 collection, Dear Mr. Sinatra (Telarc), left off. What more can be done with Ellington that has not been done before? Well, quite a lot it turns out.

What sets Pizzarelli's Ellington ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Radio Deluxe Live: The Pizzarellis Go to Tanglewood

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Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli and Jessica MolaskeyTanglewood Jazz FestivalLenox, MassachusettsSeptember 5, 2009

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Pizzarelli: With a Song in My Heart

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The American Songbook. There are times when those three words make a music listener cringe: Oh no, another album of old songs. That's not the case with John Pizzarelli. There's something about his guitar, his vocal style and the arrangements that make his recordings fun and interesting. That's doubly so on With a Song in My Heart, Pizzarelli's tribute to one of the great writers who contributed to the songbook: Richard Rodgers.

Pizzarelli began playing guitar at age six. He followed the footsteps of his father, Bucky Pizzarelli, and also learned from Erroll Garner, Les Paul ...

NEW YORK BEAT

John Pizzarelli and The Hot Club Of Detroit

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As he continues his prolific recording career John Pizzarelli faces greater challenges in searching for material that can result in successful, fresh performances. He has covered most of the legends of the American Songbook and, in his latest session for Telarc, he examines the music of Richard Rodgers. This composer's music has, of course, been gleaned by countless performers and any attempt to come up with “something new" faces stern tests. But Pizzarelli's multifarious musical talents (producing, vocalizing, playing) have created formidable formulas for success throughout his CD career and With A Song In My Heart is the latest example ...

LIVE REVIEWS

John Pizzarelli Lights Up Birdland

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John Pizzarelli Birdland New York City, New York November 17, 2007

On this final night of his most recent stand at New York's Birdland, guitarist/vocalist and bandleader John Pizzarelli raised the stakes, bringing an extra level of excitement to his performance and to the packed audience's delight. The week began with a “launch" party for Pizzarelli's wife, Jessica Molaskey, on the occasion of her new album Sitting in Limbo (P.S. Classics, 2007). The couple, moreover, had been cited by the press, including the 2007 Nightlife Award, as the Best Duo in the New York ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Pizzarelli: Dear Mr. Sinatra

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There's something about John Pizzarelli that makes anything he does all right--or better than all right. The son of jazz guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, the 47-year-old guitarist and vocalist is that rare hybrid of a throwback to yesteryear and one who is contemporary. His music is as fresh as it is familiar. Pizzarelli has recorded as a bandleader for RCA, Chesky, Stash and Novus, and in 1997 appeared in the Broadway musical Dream, a revue of Johnny Mercer songs. With Dear Mr. Sinatra, an homage to “Ol' Blue Eyes, Pizzarelli's album count now stands at well over ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Pizzarelli: Dear Mr. Sinatra

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Whether they know it or not, performers pay tribute to the Master Storyteller every time they interpret and resuscitate one of the thousands of songs from the so-called “Great American Songbook"--a repository of the best songs written between 1920 and 1960 by Berlin, Kern, Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Arlen, Van Heusen, Styne and company--and all owing their continuing influence and vitality more to one performer than any other.

So, as with any other recorded Frank Sinatra tribute, the question is inescapable: What does it mean exactly? To a “Sinatraphile, perhaps it's the exemplary singing--from the quality of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Pizzarelli: Dear Mr. Sinatra

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With the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra interpreting swinging big band arrangements, John Pizzarelli captures the spirit of Frank Sinatra's memorable years with the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Count Basie and others. His aim here is not to emulate Sinatra, but to honor him with the songs that he sang so effectively. How can we ever forget?

The program includes eleven familiar songs from the Sinatra years, all presented as brief arrangements that keep creative soloing to a minimum. Pizzarelli's guitar provides a number of well-constructed solos, but they too are also abbreviated. His wordless vocals with unison ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rick Haydon & John Pizzarelli: Just Friends

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Guitarist Rick Haydon, a veteran jazz educator, is not widely known to most jazz fans. On the other hand, John Pizzarelli has established himself by leading his own trio (and appearing in many Foxwoods Casino ads). Following a concert together in 2004, Haydon achieved his goal of recording a tribute to greats of the instrument with Pizzarelli, one of the masters of his generation. With bassist Martin Pizzarelli and drummer Tony Tedesco accompanying them, the two men pick a far-reaching program that delves into swing and bop, alternating between lead and rhythm lines so effectively that it's hard to tell ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Pizzarelli: Knowing You

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I've always been the ultimate non-fan of the ever-growing Sinatra-esque, finger-popping, wink-a-dinging, Vegashtick franchise. That's one reason it took me so long to get to this release, and I'm glad I finally did, because it was such a surprise how much I liked it.

Although Pizzarelli's voice still sounds pinched, and can't always go where his guitar does when they scat together, he's a straightforward and touching singer who swings like crazy; his version of a warhorse like “The Shadow of Your Smile is blessedly understated and tender. The fresh and intriguing material includes two delights from Frishberg, ...



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