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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Straight No Chaser is the place for jazz lovers (and those who will soon be jazz lovers) to enjoy podcasts with their favorite music and artists. Winner of the 2017 JazzTimes Readers' Poll for Best Podcast, your host Jeffrey Siegel will take you inside the world of jazz, from the new releases to the best festiva;s to remembrances of jazz legends.

Sep 3, 2012

John Pizzarelli has become one of today’s “Voices of Jazz” in the media, by virtue of his non-stop appearances onstage and in the recording studio. Yes, that’s even him on the omnipresent Foxwoods Resorts Casino ads on television. He has conquered the radio dial as well, hosting the urbane "Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli" a nationally syndicated radio program co-hosted with his wife, Broadway star Jessica Molaskey.

Known primarily for his versions of the Great American Songbook, Broadway show tunes, and the oeuvre of great singers like Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole, he turns his back on the classics every few years to record something in a different vein. After twelve albums of standards, he recorded an album of Beatles tunes. He has done two albums of Brazilian music, one with Rosemary Clooney.

Double Exposure gives Pizzarelli the chance to reach back to the record collections that first influenced him – both his rock and pop albums and the jazz discs owned by his father, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. The result is a delightful mash-up that mixes jazz classics recorded by Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane with pop tunes from the Beatles, James Taylor, the Allman Brothers Band, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell. Recalling the “acoustic smashing” of West Coast signer Jacqui Naylor, the selections keep listeners on their proverbial toes as they cross from genre to genre, sometimes in seconds.

I spoke with John as he prepared for a September 8 show with his Quartet (keyboardist Larry Fuller, bassist (and brother) Martin Pizzarelli and drummer Tony Tedesco) and we talked about how the project came to fruition, how he chooses material, and how he finds the energy to continue as performer/recording artist/radio host/television personality. Click here to listen to Podcast 296, featuring musical selections from the Pizzarelli catalog, including:

John Pizzarelli – “I Feel Fine/The Sidewinder” from Double Exposure. To my ears, the most natural of the mash-ups on the CD is this mixture of the Lennon & McCartney tune and the Lee Morgan classic.

John Pizzarelli – “Traffic Jam/The Kicker” from Double Exposure. Pizzarelli has both recorded with James Taylor and chosen his songs for Pizzarelli albums. Looking for a Taylor tune to include on the CD, the highly syncopated original seemed a natural fit with this Joe Henderson burner, made popular by the Horace Silver Quintet.

John Pizzarelli – “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” from Double Exposure. Dickey Betts’ instrumental was (and remains) a staple of the Allman Brothers Band’s repertoire, and this version, which channels Wes Montgomery’s “Four on Six”, is a real delight. I look forward to seeing this one stretched out in concert next week at Bull Run.

John Pizzarelli – “Fascinatin’ Rhythm” from Bossa Nova. Reaching deep into Antonio Carlos Jobim’s recorded history, Pizzarelli plucked this Gershwin classic, originally recorded on the Brazilian master’s LP Passarim in 1987.

John Pizzarelli and Maya Beiser – “You've Got to Be Carefully Taught” from an unreleased recording of a rehearsal with the Boston Pops. First recorded on John’s Richard Rodgers tribute album With a Song in My Heart, this version comes from rehearsals for a performance in Boston in 2009 with the noted cellist Maya Beiser,

The Pizzarelli Boys – “When You’re Smiling” from Sunday at Pete’s. The musical family lets their hair down on an informal session that is so delightful you can practically see them smiling as you listen. Bucky Pizzarelli (Rhythm Guitar), John Pizzarelli (Electric Lead Guitar), Martin Pizzarelli (Bass), and Tony Tedesco (Drums) are the band.

John Pizzarelli – “I Like Jersey Best” from I'm Hip (Please Don't Tell My Father). Something of a theme song for the Jersey-born singer, this tune written by Joe Cosgriff and originally recorded by the Phil Bernardi Band in the Eighties is always an audience favorite, with lyrics like:

Betting halls, shopping malls,
good old Rutgers U,
47 shoes stores line Route 22
The Meadowlands, the root beer stands
Main Street Hackensack;
I may leave for a week or two
But I'm always coming back.

John Pizzarelli – “You've Got To Hide Your Love Away” from Meets the Beatles. While the Great American Songbook is his bread and butter, John never hesitates to reach back to the music on the radio from his early days. Using  a variety of innovative arrangements, he finds new ways to present old favorites. Here the Trio of John and Martin Pizzarelli and Tony Tedesco are supplemented by percussionist Sammy Figueroa and long-time arranger Don Sebesky.

The John Pizzarelli Quartet appears at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, MA on
Friday, September 07, 2012 at 8:00 pm. More information and tickets can be ordered here.