|Mike Karn and John Pizzarelli|
The now fifty-eight-year-old John Jr. has carved his own place in the world of jazz and contemporary popular music. He is in fact a very accomplished guitarist in his own right, with artful phrasing, a deft sense of time and a fluid facility on the fretboard. John’s true talent is in his vocal acumen and relaxed stage presence which was on bountiful display on Monday night at Decatur’s Eddie’s Attic.
This was the last set of the last night, of a two night gig. The previous night presumably were both sold out shows. On this Monday evening the venue was half-filled with an older crowd of fans that came to see Pizzarelli tell his stories, sing his songs and play his guitar. John was accompanied by bassist Mike Karn.
Pizzarelli was dressed in a grey pin-stripe suit and tie and projected a warm, friendly demeanor throughout the evening. He started with the tongue-in-cheek Bobby Troupe song “I’m Just a Hungry Man,” which set the tone of the evening as light and entertaining. From there he jumped into another quirky tune, written by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz and made famous by the chanteuse Blossom Dearie “Rhode Island is Famous for You.” Another Bobby Troupe composition Rte. 66 came next. Here the jazz historian and entertainer in Pizzarelli came out. He talked about his conversations with Troupe and how Bobby told him the story of pitching the song to Nat King Cole who made it one of his staples. In many respects Pizzarelli has patterned himself after Cole. While Cole was a consummate pianist it was his voice and that relaxed polish that won him legions of followers.
Pizzarelli proceeded with a marvelous medley of songs that all contained the phrase “Hey Baby” and then broke into some Hot Club of Paris, Django Reinhardt-style guitar on another tune from the Nat Cole repertoire, “Errand Boy of Rhythm.” Pizzarelli is no stranger to gypsy jazz having once been recorded with the great Stéphane Grappelli on “Live at the Blue Note” from 1995.
|John Pizzarelli on Edddie's Attic Stage|
Ever the storyteller, John spoke of this very day being the twenty-fifth anniversary of him opening for another of his idols, Frank Sinatra, in Berlin, Germany in 1993. His introduction to Sinatra was brief and ended with the crooner admonishing him saying “Get something to eat kid, you look terrible." Pizzarelli likened looking into the singer’s blue eyes “like looking into a natural gas flame, they were that blue.” Pizzarelli sang two Sinatra songs-“You Make Me Feel So Young” and “How About You” before treating the audience to a solo instrumental version of Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight” on his seven string custom arch-bodied guitar. You could really see how accomplished a guitarist he is on this marvelous piece. Bassist Karn returned for the SammyC ahn and Jimmy Van Heusen Song “ Ring A Ding Ding” that Sinatra sang on his inaugural record on the Reprise label.
The evening continued with “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” from the 1953 musical Kismet. A clever rendering of Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You” with a Tom Jobim inspired Bossa beat and Jobim’s classic “The Wave.” Being in Georgia, it was only fitting that Pizzareli included a Johnny Mercer tune in his repertoire and he chose a song about Football and music “Jamboree Jones.” The finale was a Medley ending in “I Got Rhythm” and the encore was Sinatra’s “Lady Be Good.”
It was a wonderful evening of great songs played by the fabulous talent that is John Pizzarelli. If the show was any indication of the music on John's latest album John Pizzarelli Sinatra and Jobim @50 then it should be a keeper.