John Pizzarelli

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John Pizzarelli

Birdland, NYC, January 16, 2018

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

John Pizzarelli
Photo: David Andrako

The virtuoso guitarist, John Pizzarelli, took the Birdland stage with his trio for a week in January for a program of reminiscences, broad humor, and fine ensemble jazz.

With Michael Karn on bass and young newcomer Konrad Paszkudzki playing brilliant piano, Pizzarelli—sporting the makings of a beard—romped through a selection of standards.
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Opening with Nat King Cole’s “I’m an Errand Boy for Rhythm (Send Me)” with his guitar roaring through the number like an express train, the group continued to salute Cole with “It’s Only a Paper Moon” (“If You Believed in Me”) “This Will Make You Laugh,” and “(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons.”

For the next group of songs—in between lots of comic riffs on Pizzarelli’s part—a theme took shape: food and drink. Numbers included Bobby Troup’s “Lemon Twist”; “Save the Bones for Henry Jones” (you know why: “‘cause Henry don’t eat no meat”); “If You’re Heading Out to Vera’s” (with the number featuring brilliant solo turns by each member of the group); and “Frim Fram Sauce.
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The theme swerved to go geographical with “Rhode Island Is Famous for You” (with the audience joining in the singing), “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” and “I Like Jersey Best,” which included versions as if  they had been sung by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.

The final sound of the evening came from the audience: sustained applause and cheers.

Peter Haas

Writer, editor, lyricist and banjo plunker, Peter Haas has been contributing features and performance reviews for Cabaret Scenes since the magazine’s infancy. As a young folk-singer, he co-starred on Channel 13’s first children’s series, Once Upon a Day; wrote scripts, lyrics and performed on Pickwick Records’ children’s albums, and co-starred on the folk album, All Day Singing. In a corporate career, Peter managed editorial functions for CBS Records and McGraw-Hill, and today writes for a stable of business magazines. An ASCAP Award-winning lyricist, his work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s, Metropolitan Room and other fine saloons.