When recording fresh interpretations of classic songs, artists do best when they go beyond simply singing or playing them the way they were written. To make it worth doing, the modern artist must make the music his own. John Pizzarelli is exceptionally adept in accomplishing this. This fact is evident on the opening track of his new album, Knowing You. Including a dazzling guitar solo/vocal scat, and quoting the percolating jingle from an old Maxwell House commercial, Pizzarelli claims full ownership of Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire's "Coffee, Black.
That sets the stage for a swinging good time as Pizzarelli and his variable quartet pay tribute to the many talented musicians and songwriters he has met over the course of his 25-years of interpreting the Great American Songboook. Most of the 15 works on the album spotlight the work of composers and lyricists whose families Pizzarelli has come to know and admire. Among them are Alan Bergman, Dave Frishberg, Dan Barrett and Johnny Mandel.
With Tony Tedesco on drums and brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass throughout the album, John Pizzarelli is accompanied by a variable lineup of pianists, wind instruments and additional guitarists. Harry Allen provides tenor sax play on the short but delightful "Ain't That a Kick in the Head? also featuring organist Larry Goldings. Ray Kennedy adds piano on the equally delightful "Pick Yourself Up. The leisurely title song, penned by Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, again features Goldings on organ and Kennedy on piano. Molaskey joins Pizzarelli in a charming duet on Frishburg's "Quality Time. Other notable tracks include Tony Asher and Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows, Ira and George Gerswhin's "How Long Has This Been Going On? and the Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin composition, "If It's the Last Thing I Do.
On Knowing You, his sixth album on Telarc and his 19th as a bandleader, Pizzarelli offers plenty to enjoy. He and his bandmates cover a lot of territory and capture many moods all in the name of putting a smile on the listener's face.
Coffee, Black; New Sun In The Sky; Ain
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.
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