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John Pizzarelli: Knowing You

C. Michael Bailey By

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Vocalists John Pizzarelli and Harry Connick, Jr. have a few things in common. They are both young and attractive, hyper-talented men with loads of respect for the Great American Songbook. But that is where the comparison essentially ends. Connick, a pianist, concentrates primarily on the "standard" standards and his own compositions. Pizzarelli, a guitarist, concentrates on the whole of the standards expanse, devoting less to his own writing. Also, Connick enjoys a greater commercial popularity than Pizzarelli, a fact I can barely fathom when listening to Knowing You.

With a delicate grace, John Pizzarelli devotes his attention to the pop/Broadway talents of Jimmy McHugh, Sammy Cahn, Frank Loessor, and Johnny Mandel, among many others. Outstanding on this recording are Pizzarelli's original comps, the title cut (composed with wife Jessica Molaskey), and the instrumental ballad "The First Hint of Autumn." Molaskey joins Pizzarelli in a duet on the beautifully contemporary "Quality Time," which they deliver with a clever and intimate panache. But these are just a couple of the diamonds in this box of jewels. Pizzarelli inaugurates the disc with swinging rendition of Maltby and Shine's "Coffee, Black," replete with Pizzarelli's trademark guitar/voice duet on the solo that follows a quite nifty voice-drums introduction. The guitarist steals the Cahn/Van Heusen classic "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" away from Dean Martin.

Pizzarelli chose well when he asked organist Larry Goldings and tenor saxophonist Harry Allen to join him on this recording. Their presence really turns on the class. Allen, a tenor master of the American Songbook like Pizzarelli, infuses his pieces with a Stan Getz character, breathy and broad. Goldings, less conservative than Allen, nevertheless meets the challenge of Tony Asher's "God Only Knows" and the title song. This is a beautiful recording in every way. Pizzarelli deserves much more attention than he gets.

Track Listing: Coffee, Black; New Sun In The Sky; Ain

Personnel: John Pizzarelli: Guitar, Vocals; Ray Kennedy: Piano; Martin Pizzarelli: Bass; Harry Allen: Tenor Saxophone; Larry Goldings: Organ; Cesar Mariano: Piano; Jessical Molaskey?: Vocals; Tony Monte: Piano; Ken Peplowski: Clarinet; Bucky Pizzarelli: Guitar; Tony Tedesco: Drums.

Title: Knowing You | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Telarc Records

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