How about that? Cookin' The Books provides a positive spin on the current description of corporate greed and deception. For the purposes of this album, it has been corrupted to refer to the Great American Songbook and, indeed, Buddy DeFranco and company are certainly doing a fine job of cookin' these tunes. DeFranco, in his 60th year of recording, is the clarinetist who bridged the gap between Benny Goodman (who was a great influence) and the bebop music of the 1940s. By mid-century Buddy DeFranco was the bebop clarinetist and jamming with the Parker-Gillespie crowd.
The John Pizzarelli Trio just celebrated its tenth year as a latter day King Cole Trio (guitar-piano-bass). The leader's infectious vocals and ability to swing such diverse source material as the Beatles and Louis Jordan, not to mention his career as a pitchman for a popular Connecticut casino, has also become a household word. Drummer Butch Miles with many years of experience, including a few seasons propelling the Count Basie Orchestra, is on hand to be in the driver's seat.
We shouldn't be surprised to have this product from the new releases of Arbors Jazz, inasmuch as the label is probably the prime supplier of the post-war swing music that provides modern adaptations of the small combo work of the late '40s. All of the tunes are well worn standards except for the title tune and "I Lost the Blues" both DeFranco originals and most are played in mid-tempo or ballad pace with the exception of the aforementioned "I Lost the Blues" and Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From the Apple" taken way up-tempo.
DeFranco maintains a bell-like, magnificent tone and his playing on chestnuts like "Gone with the Wind" and a lengthy "East of the Sun" is flawless and a thing of beauty. Pizzarelli, who displays monster chops in not only comping in a rhythm guitar format, jumps off frequently to dazzling single string solo performances. The Pizza Man also delivers as a vocalist singing, in his amiable manner, on "Prisoner of Love" and an effective mid-tempo "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Pianist Ray Kennedy gets in some snappy solo work and Martin Pizzarelli and Butch Miles provide the kick needed here. Mentally subtracting the drummer here would have changed the end product considerably. It would have worked but on a different level. This session needed the Butch Miles to live up to its title.
Two interesting facts arose from this collaboration. This is, surprisingly, DeFranco's first recording with Arbors Jazz. It resulted from a chance meeting of the clarinetist and the Pizzarelli group at the Clearwater (Florida) Jazz Festival last year. When DeFranco was blowing the roof off the Iridium Jazz Club in New York last year with fellow veteran Tony Scott on clarinet, the opportunity arose for all parties to get into the studio for this felicitous occasion.
Track Listing: Softly,As In A Morning Sunrise, Prisoner of Love, What is This Thing Called Love, Cookin' the Books, I Lost the Blues, East of the Sun, Dancing in the Dark, Poor Butterfly, Gone with the Wind, Scrapple from the Apple.
Personnel: Buddy DeFranco,clarinet; John Pizzarelli, guitar,vocals; Ray Kennedy,piano; Martin Pizzarelli,bass; Butch Miles,drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.