Veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli's latest is a master class in the art of the popular American song as interpreted by someone who's spent a lifetime perfecting the language of swing.
Combining solo guitar and spoken reminiscences, Pizzarelli retraces his long career through exquisite renditions of standards associated with colleagues and mentors like Henry Mancini, Richard Rodgers, Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. He also proves his dexterity beyond straight swing by tackling a trio of early jazz tunes by Bix Beiderbecke, a Beatles tune and even two contemporary classical pieces.
Pizzarelli's technique on his seven-string guitar is flawless and his inventiveness in livening up familiar material is laudable. If there's a complaint here it's that many of the songs are simply too short, several clocking in at less than two minutes. The best numbers are the longer ones, like his take on "Willow Weep for Me" and a medley of Henry Mancini tunes, which let Pizzarelli stretch out and showcase his considerable improvisational flair. The brief spoken introductions are also more distraction than revelation and should have been pared down to leave more room for what Pizzarelli does best: play his guitar.
Track Listing: 1 Bucky Introduction to Richard Rodgers 0:18
2 This Nearly Was Mine 2:17
3 You Are Too Beautiful 2:30
4 Bucky Introduction to the Three Suns Theme Song 0:31
5 Twilight Time 1:57
6 Bucky Introduction to Mockingbird 0:12
7 Mockingbird 2:21
8 Bucky Introduction to Ann Ronell 0:27
9 Willow Weep for Me 4:04
10 Bucky Introduction to Henry Mancini 0:23
11 Mancini Medley: Breakfast at Tiffany's/Dreamsville/Mr. Lucky/Moon River 5:24
12 Bucky Introduction to Bix Beiderbecke 0:42
13 In the Dark 3:19
14 Flashes 3:12
15 Bucky Introduction to Dick Ables 2:01
16 Out of This World 2:07
17 Sleepin' Bee 3:17
18 Last Night When We Were Young 1:40
19 Bucky Introduction to Frank Sinatra 0:10
20 Why Shouldn't I? 1:37
21 Bucky Introduction to Johnny Mandel 0:43
22 The Shadow of Your Smile 2:25
23 Bucky Introduction to Bing Crosby 0:05
24 Pennies from Heaven 3:53
25 Bucky Introduction to Down Memory Lane 0:10
26 Down Memory Lane 1:13
27 Bucky Introduction to Noel Coward 0:07
28 Sail Away 2:00
29 Bucky Introduction to the Beatles 0:18
30 Medley: Yesterdays/Yesterday 2:35
31 Bucky Introduction to Eastwood Lane 0:12
32 Land of the Loon 2:26
33 Lonesome Lake 2:18
34 Bucky Introduction to More Than You Know 0:07
35 More Than You Know 2:52
36 Bucky Introduction to Benny Goodman 1:23
37 Fandanguillo 4:23
38 Second Movement from Guitar Concerto in D 3:25
39 Bucky Signing Off 0:04
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.