BUCKY AND JOHN PIZZARELLI – Generations – Arbors Records ARCD 19345, 59:03 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
(Bucky Pizzarelli – guitar; John Pizzarelli – guitar)
The Pizzarelli family is a ubiquitous presence on today’s music scene. In addition to the father and son combination on this disc, there is another son Martin who is a bassist, a daughter Mary who plays classical guitar, and John’s wife Jessica Molaskey, a singer of some note, who has recorded with the family. In this duo collection, they offer songs that each associate with friends with whom they have collaborated over the years.
Neal Hefti’s “Fred”, one of his lesser known compositions, starts the proceedings and gives an indication of what is to follow as it swings throughout. Bucky and John have played together frequently over the years and have developed a chemistry that gives their efforts an infectiousness that is readily apparent in the music. As they both use seven-string guitars, each equipped with a low B string, telling them apart on the various tracks is a challenge. A beautifully delivered “Polka Dots And Moon Beams” is a reflection of John’s memories of his father’s family and their influence of his musical education. Each succeeding cut brings forth an evocation of relationship, a memory, or an influence. On “Rose Room” in addition to celebrating Bucky’s work with George Barnes, there are some Charlie Christian inflections in play. Some Les Paul phrasing can be detected on “At Sundown” in addition to the Bud Freeman association for Bucky.
Ballads receive carefully crafted interpretations as evidenced by “Darn That Dream “and that old Woody Herman favourite “Early Autumn”. An easy going reading is given to “How Long Has This Been Going On”. George Van Eps, the father of the seven-string guitar, is fondly recalled with “I’ll Remember April” and “The Way You Look Tonight”. Bucky’s fondness for classical guitar is confirmed by two solo intervals on acoustic guitar; “The Second Movement of Sonatina” and “Variation and Fugue #9 on ‘La Folia’”.
While Bucky Pizzarelli is clearly the pater familias of the Pizzarelli clan, in this offering, he and son John share comparable billing, and this outing showcases the unwavering affection between them.
PS. For another opportunity to hear the Pizzarellis see the concurrent review for “Ruby Braff And The Flying Pizzarellis,” Arbors.
TrackList: Fred; Polka Dots And Moon Beams; Rose Room; Midnight Sun; A Sleepin’ Bee; At Sundown; I’ll Remember April; The Second Movement Of Sonatina; Darn That Dream; Avalon; Early Autumn; Graham Avenue Stroll; How Long Has This Been Going On; The Way You Look Tonight; Variation And Fugue #9 On ‘La Folia’.