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The Pizzarellis ended a long, successful run in New York City at Feinstein's at the Regency on Saturday, June 22nd. John Pizzarelli is at the top of his game, with a long string of successful recordings for Stash, Chesky, Novus and Telarc, and the very entertaining 7-string guitarist and singer also knows how to work an audience with just the right touch of humor. Playing to a packed room, he led his trio of ten years (with Ray Kennedy on piano and brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass) through a swinging set that included: Bobby Troup's light and catchy "Lemon Twist;" a golden oldie, "Lulu's Back in Town," played with vigor and some fine scat singing by the leader; and the now infrequently heard gem "Something to Remember You By," with a memorable arrangement by George Shearing incorporating the bass line from Claude Thornhill's theme song, "Snowfall." John's wife, Broadway actress and singer Jessica Molaskey, joined the group for the delightful "All the Cats Join In." She has comic skills equal to her husband, as she described being with the Pizzarelli family as "the Von Trapps on martinis." The Brothers Pizzarelli sat out as she delivered a sweet and slow interpretation of one of Eubie Blake's earliest hits on Broadway, "I'm Just Wild About Harry," backed by Kennedy's thoughtful piano playing. At this point Molaskey stopped to explain how she took a night off from performing on Broadway to attend her high school reunion, hoping to see a guy who never noticed her as a teenager. After talking to him for awhile at the function, she was horrified to learn that he was a member of the Mob. This odd situation prompted her to compose the hilarious "You Went and Took a Hit Out on My Heart," which nearly stole the show for the evening! The husband and wife team then took turns singing as they interpolated "With Plenty of Money and You" and "We're in the Money." Ray Kennedy had the spotlight to himself for a well titled original, "The Gospel Truth." He then departed the stage briefly as the senior member of the Pizzarelli clan, the phenomenal guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, joined his sons. An intricate take of 'If I Had You" set the stage for a duet with Martin on bass of "More Than You Know." John rejoined the action by singing "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" (with an incredible solo by Bucky and strong rhythm accompaniment by his sons) then segueing into "The More I See You." The father and son guitarists then demonstrated how well they support each other's solos in an intricate run through "Three Little Words." An instrumental arrangement of "It's Been a Long, Long Time" gave way to "I'll Be Seeing You" as Molaskey returned to the stage, with her husband joining her on vocals as they interpolated "I'll See You in My Dreams." All five musicians wrapped the set with a heartily swinging take of "It's a Good Day." What a way to conclude a visit to New York City!
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.