John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey: The Little Things You Do Together

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey

The Little Things You Do Together

Café Carlyle, NYC, November 7, 2017

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

John Pizzarelli &
Jessica Molaskey
Photo: David Andrako

Opening at the Café Carlyle with the amusing ambiguity of Stephen Sondheim’s “The Little Things You Do Together” from Company, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey define their long-lasting marriage by drawing in their audience to share some glib secrets. With Pizzarelli’s natural pop and jazz mastery in guitar and vocal interpretation and Molaskey’s perception of lyrics and a voice that settles comfortably into bop, Brazil, folk, theater, and jazz, this couple is singular, witty and hip, with formidable relevance.  

Some of the little things they do together have been performed in other Pizzarelli/Molaskey shows, but the material is always musically ideal, usually updated with interesting twists. They put the Pizzarelli jazz turns in “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” (George and Ira Gershwin), followed by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields’ “A Fine Romance.” They offer Dave and Samantha Frishberg’s socio-political sarcasm in “Blizzard of Lies” with deceits as intriguing as “I’ll be right there/I am not a crook.” 

They also celebrate Pizzarelli’s new Concord Jazz CD, Sinatra and Jobim@50 and Molaskey’s new CD, Portraits of Joni. Molaskey impeccably illustrates Mitchell’s blunt blend of optimism and cynicism in “The Last Time I Saw Richard.” “The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines” (Mitchell with Charles Mingus) is buoyant with bop energy, Molaskey’s lucid tone giving it her own sound.

With his vocals and guitar, Pizzarelli gently swayed into “Antonio’s Song” (Michael Franks) and put the bossa rhythm under “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” (Robert Wright/George Forrest, based on Borodin, from Kismet). The stage electrified with a Pizzarelli-Molaskey signature pairing of Jon Hendricks’ vocalese to Jimmy Harris and Leroy Kirkland’s “Cloudburst” and Stephen Sondheim’s rapid-fire patter song from Company, “Getting Married Today.”

Another Sondheim pairing was sweet poignancy, “Children Will Listen” (Into the Woods) and “Children and Art” (Sunday in the Park with George). Pizzarelli delivered a meticulous rendition of “Finishing the Hat” (Sunday in the Park). In these difficult times, the husband and wife, with Mike Karn on bass and pianist Konrad Paszkudski, raised the show to invigorating heights with “I Want to Be Happy” and “Sometimes I’m Happy,” both by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar.

But there was more. The encore was left to Pizzarelli for “I Like Jersey Best,” John Cosgriff ‘s bow to his home state, a good-time list song with music snippets of “Jersey Bounce” and “(Theme from) New York, New York.” Pizzarelli added impersonations of legit Jerseyites like Springsteen, and Pizzarelli’s own takes on how Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, or the Beach Boys might salute the Garden State.

John & Jessica continue at the Carlyle through Nov. 18.

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.