[Dixielandjazz] John Pizzarelli & Jessica Milaskjey

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 13 06:40:07 PDT 2008

If you are in, or visiting New York City over the next 2 months, you  
might be interested in hearing this group at the Cafe Carlyle. Not  
Dixieland, but surely OKOM, with lots of American Songbook.

Steve Barbone

September 11, 2008 - NY TIMES - By Stephen Holden
A Witty Musical Marriage Riding a Wave of Springy Pop-Jazz
 From the moment John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey arrived onstage  
at Café Carlyle on Tuesday evening, gravity relaxed its grip, and the  
room began to bounce. The wittiest, most musically savvy husband-and- 
wife team in pop-jazz, they transformed the club into a silk-covered  
magic carpet that floated up and away to screwball heaven.

For Mr. Pizzarelli, the lighter-than-air jazz guitarist and raconteur,  
the bounce springs from the easy swing and bossa nova pulses of his  
guitar, which combines the spirit of Django Reinhardt with the  
virtuosity of George Benson and Les Paul; his crooning echoes the  
jivey early Nat King Cole. Mr. Pizzarelli recently released “With a  
Song in My Heart” (Telarc), the least oratorical album of Richard  
Rodgers music ever made. On the record he strokes songs like “This  
Can’t Be Love” and “It’s Easy to Remember” until they purr.

For Ms. Molaskey, the bounce is in the jazz lilt with which she  
inflects her theatrical voice into a lightly swinging saloon style.  
She has just released “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” (Arbors), an album  
of happy songs that is so buoyant it eliminates any hint of Sunday  
school sermonizing from the concept of sweetness and light.

Their first show of a two-month engagement spun together material  
mostly taken from those albums into a running conversation in which  
many of the songs were paired into dialogues, some cheeky, others  
serious. The couple were accompanied by Larry Fuller, a pianist whose  
light touch and velocity match Mr. Pizzarelli’s guitar; Martin  
Pizzarelli (John’s younger brother) on bass; and Tony Tedesco on drums.

Ms. Molaskey’s wistful version of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,”  
segued to Mr. Pizzarelli’s rendition of “Just in Time.” Her “Will He  
Like Me?” was answered affirmatively by his “I Have Dreamed.” A string  
of six songs that Mr. Pizzarelli called the show’s “happiness suite”  
explored the concept from multiple perspectives, from Norman Vincent  
Peale (Dorothy Fields and Arthur Schwartz’s “Happy Habit”) to Freud  
(Billy Joel’s “Summer, Highland Falls” joined to Antonio Carlos  
Jobim’s “Meditation”).

Mr. Joel’s song describes an articulate couple’s inability to alter  
the destructive pattern of a troubled relationship even after airing  
all their grievances. The bossa nova setting helped transmute the  
language of talk therapy into a philosophic inquiry about the  
effectiveness of communication between two people.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” and  
Stephen Sondheim’s “Children Will Listen” was the show’s ultimate  
example of two songs wound together to reinforce each other. That  
hybrid led into “Heart’s Desire,” Alan Broadbent and Dave Frishberg’s  
tender jazz ballad advising a child to follow his dreams no matter  
what and sung by Ms. Molaskey with a piercing sense of recognition:

And soon enough the seasons start to slip away

So seize the day

And if the fates are kind

Then you will find your heart’s desire.

John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey appear through Nov. 1 at Café  
Carlyle, at the Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, Manhattan; (212)  
744-1600, thecarlyle.com.

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