John Pizzarelli – Double Exposure – Telarc TEL 33221 02, [Distr. by Concord Music] 54:26 [5/15/12] *****:
(John Pizzarelli – classical guitar, archtop 7 string guitar, vocals; Martin Pizzarelli – bass; Tony Tedesco — drums; Larry Fuller – piano, electric piano: Larry Goldings – organ; Aaron Weinstein – violin; Tony Kadleck – trumpet, flugelhorn: John Mosca – trombone, euphonium; Kenny Berger – baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Andy Fusco – alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet; Jessica Molaskey – vocals, lyricist on “Traffic Jam / The Kicker”)
John Pizzarelli is a guitarist, vocalist and band leader coming from a family of musicians. I came in contact with his father, Bucky Pizzarelli’s music in early 2000 when I was an on-air host on KMHD in Portland, Oregon during the decade of the 2000s. Through the station library I became familiar with family Pizzarelli’s musical abilities and sound. John has recorded as leader somewhere around 23 albums in his career. He has recorded on several different record labels both on his own albums and albums with his father Bucky. While I worked at the station, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey’s radio show “Radio Deluxe” was subscribed to for the benefit of the radio audience. “Radio Deluxe” was a superb blending of playing music, interviews with celebrities in an informal atmosphere of an apartment spiced with wonderful conversations between Pizzarelli, Molaskey and the guest of the day.
John’s most recent album, Double Exposure has just released May 15. I love the mixture of pop tunes reworked into a jazz style. I was caught totally by surprise and delighted at my first listening of the album. Pizzarelli’s arrangements are wonderful and ear-catching. The instrumentation is excellently presented by his studio and tour band. The material for Double Exposure was drawn from what is described as some of the best pop songwriters of the past five decades. Listed were Lennon and McCartney, Neil Young, James Taylor, Leiber and Stoller, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell to name a few. In preparing these songs, Pizzarelli borrowed some of the sounds of Wes Montgomery, Billy Strayhorn, Thad Jones and John Coltrane.
I particularly liked the mixing of the two songs together on “I Feel Fine/Sidewinder”. It starts with the familiar four tones of the bass leading into Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder”. The band played the first line of the melody amongst the instruments down to the end of the chorus which hesitates as in the original tune and starts up again but now Pizzarelli chimes in with his personable voice with the vocals and melody of “I Feel Fine” and intermeshes it with “Sidewinder”. I was jazzin’ in my mind from there on. Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” was a change up next with a sweet vocal by John. James Taylor’s Traffic Jam was always a favorite of mine but the interspersing of the song with Joe Henderson’s “The Kicker” with a great performance of John and Jessica Molaskey was a real pleasure. It had that vocalese sound reminding me of a cross between The Manhattan Transfer and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. “Ruby Baby” swings with vocals by John. John accompanies himself on guitar with the nice little Latin sounding piece with the vocals for Billy Joel’s “Rosalinda’s Eyes”. Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” starts with the song “Drunk on the Moon/Lush Life” as an instrumental then in comes John singing “Drunk On The Moon” and the melody and vocal switches back and forth. These are not just covers of the original songs but have expertly been reworked and arranged by John Pizzarelli into a very nice listenable album.
Double Exposure has good liner notes and is a quality recording with excellent sound and mixing. I call it the best effort yet from John Pizzarelli.
TrackList: 1. I Feel Fine/Sidewinder; 2. Harvest Moon; 3. Traffic Jam / The Kicker; 4. Ruby Baby; 5. Alison; 6. Rosalinda’s Eyes; 7. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed; 8. Drunk on the Moon / Lush Life; 9. Walk Between the Raindrops; 10. Free Man In Paris; 11. Take a Lot of Pictures; 12. I Can Let Go Now; 13. Diamond Girl.
A new vinyl of a jazz legend taking on another musical icon.