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One Morning in May is Bucky Pizzarelli?s second exquisite solo guitar outing for Arbors Records. This disc follows April Kisses, reviewed in AAJ?s August 2000 general review listing (see archives). Both recordings focus on standards, older standards, mostly from the 1920s to the1940s. These two CDs belong among the essential recordings of jazz guitar.
On One Morning in May Pizzarelli plays in a heartfelt, swing style. The line-up of composers includes Bix Beiderbecke, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Hoagy Carmichael. His approach is reflective, emphasizing the poignancy of a melody line, and the harmonic shadings possible with the 7-string guitar. This is all built upon a full bodied bass line that Pizzarelli weaves into his improvisations, a bass line that is fuller than the typical solo guitar bass because of the extended bottom range of the 7-string guitar.
Pizzarelli is at his musical best in a solo context, it's here that he shapes his material in a patient, masterful style. There is a calm, depth to these solo recordings: Pizzarelli seems to be working for the great guitarists of the past and of the future bridging the gap through the voice of his guitar. This is a living tradition in action, and a vivid illustration of how far jazz has come in its short life among us.
Pizzarelli is not interested in impressing the listener with fast and flashy runs up and down the fingerboard. He is interested in what makes a standard a standard and why musicians keep returning to particular compositions. This accounts for his focus on the melody and structure of the material. How these subtleties interact with human emotion and creativity is what jazz is all about. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Guess I?ll Go Back Home; One Morning in May; Laura; A Blues Serenade; Candle Lights; This Nearly Was Mine; Serenata; Lush Life; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; Wait Till You See Her; Bess, You Is My Woman Now; In A Mist; Blood Count; All This and Heaven Too; Warm Valley; Stars in Your Eyes; Cottage for Sale; Old Folks; Autumn Nocturne; Someone to Watch Over Me; Goodbye. (58:02)
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.