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, a bouquet of Pizzarelli originals, and some lesser-knowns from standard-bearer Sammy Cahn, like "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?
Also impressive are all the superb sidemen who are usually leaders: Larry Goldings, Harry Allen, Ken Peplowski, dad Bucky, and the Brazilian keyboard legend Cesar Camargo Mariano. Knowing You is the anti-schmaltz of this genre: charming, witty, and altogether likable, it has wonderfully buoyant energy and top-drawer musicianship. Who knew?