John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey: The Arc of a Love Affair

| November 29, 2016

John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey

The Arc of a Love Affair

Café Carlyle, NYC, Nov. 21, 2016

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey Photo: David Andrako

John Pizzarelli &
Jessica Molaskey
Photo: David Andrako

Like the arc of life itself, The Arc of a Love Affair is complex, revealing itself right from the opening song of John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey’s 10th annual show at the Café Carlyle. Called “Hope,” it was written by Jason Robert Brown, feeling depressed, on November 9, 2016, the day after the presidential election.  

“I come to sing a song about hope.
I’m not inspired much right now, but even so,
I came out here to sing a song. So here I go…”

And the show began, never mentioning, but often hinting at the recent election news.  Pizzarelli and Molaskey delivered a song list mixing insightful lyrics with trademark fiery musical deliveries. Pizzarelli delivered a thoughtfully seasoned Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II favorite,  “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” an undeniable look at social problems. Molaskey’s tribute to the late Leonard Cohen, “Everybody Knows,” gave heed to the contemporary political mood (“Everybody knows the good guys lost/Everybody knows the fight was fixed/The poor stay poor, the rich get rich/That’s how it goes”).

Pizzarelli and Molaskey, with their masterful musicianship and personal charm, are a blending of her Broadway background and his jazz roots for their signature deliveries. They paired “Look to the Rainbow” (Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg) with Pizzarelli’s Latin beat supporting Molaskey’s vocals in “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I.  Pizzarelli delivered a dynamic “Brotherhood of Man” (Frank Loesser) and the closing song, “I Want to Be Happy” (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar), both ignited with energy added by Jay Leonhart’s bouyant bass beat and the jet- propelled fingerwork harmonies of pianist Konrad Paszkudzki. Outstanding was how the couple hoisted the exuberant jazz swing of  Juan Tizol’s “Perdido,” including a vocalese verse written by Molaskey.

Signaling some of love’s irresistible danger signs were Stephen Sondheim’s “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” and Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me” (“We love our lovin’/But not like we love our freedom”).  Pizzarelli on guitar and vocals related a couple’s offbeat meeting in Dave Frishberg’s “Slappin’ the Cakes on Me” with Molaskey adding some throaty silky innuendoes.  With an eye to her upcoming Joni Mitchell CD, Molaskey also sang Mitchell’s mega-hit, “A Case of You.”

This Must Be The Place” by David Byrne of Talking Heads joins Paul McCartney’s “Two of Us” exploring the comfort and hope that home provides, reminding us again of the well-known line from “Two of Us” (“You and I have memories/Longer than the road that stretches out ahead”).

The encore was a salute to Les Paul and Mary Ford with their iconic arrangement of  “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise,” and we are back to the inescapable need for hope. 

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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