John Pizzarelli

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John Pizzarelli

Café Carlyle, NYC, April 30, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

John Pizzarelli
Photo: David Andrako

John Pizzarelli is a world class guitarist, with a voice perfect for doing a Nat Cole centennial tribute. What made this show especially entertaining was his ability to hilariously relate anecdotes about Cole, himself, and his dad, legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. The mixture of great songs, funny stories, and great jazz played by Pizzarelli , Konrad Paszkudski (piano) and Mike Karn (bass) created a memorable cabaret experience. The trio focused on recordings of the King Cole Trio but also included a medley of Cole’s biggest hits as singer.

The show opened with a soft jazzy “L-O-V-E,” a posthumous hit for Cole. Pizzarelli then told a possibly apocryphal story about a drunk patron in a club who kept requesting the then only piano playing Cole to sing a song. After refusing a few times, Cole finally sang for the first time in public. Pizzarelli then performed that song, “Sweet Lorraine.” “Hit That Jive, Jack” featured super-fast exciting solos by Pizzarelli, Paszkudski, and Karn. Pizzarelli hilariously performed the King Cole Trio’s early recording, “Best Man.” After telling the story of how Cole came to record “Nature Boy,” Pizzarelli’s soft vocal worked perfectly for this haunting song. A friend gave him a recording of “Straighten Up and Fly Right” by vocalist Frank Webber, saying this would be a good song for him to perform. A string of very funny stories about the Bucky Pizzarelli household followed, leading up to Bucky putting Cole’s version of that song of on the family hi fi.

The trio then played it à la the King Cole Trio.

Pizzarelli nicely performed a medley of Cole’s biggest vocal hits, including “Mona Lisa” and “For Sentimental Reasons.” He told how Bobby Troup and a friend were in a club watching Cole perform, when the friend called out to Cole that Troup was a songwriter. Cole called Troup up to play his song “Baby Baby All the Time.” Cole liked it and recorded it, which led to his recording the song that Pizzarelli closed with, “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.”

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.