John Pizzarelli with Konrad Paszkudzki on piano



by Susan Hasho


Tuesday night at the Carlyle, John Pizzarelli took us to school—Nat King Cole school. Cole is Pizzarelli’s favorite and we were treated to an entire show of songs that had been recorded by Nat King Cole. We were also privy to entertaining anecdotes, Pizzarelli family lore and, in short, as he said “I will talk extensively.” He is a great story teller and humorist as well as a brilliant musician. And off we went.

Opening with “Paper Moon” (Arlen/Harburg/Rose) the tone was set by the knock-out quartet of Mike Karn on Bass, Andy Watson on Drums and “boy wonder” Konrad Paszkudzki on Piano and Pizzarelli effortlessly swinging on Guitar. He sings with soft, light ease and played guitar with an effortless touch. There was a kind of stealthy detonation that occurred in this evening. You think you’re in for a quiet walk with Nat King Cole and then “I’m an Errand Boy for Rhythm” (Nat King Cole) with the clever funny lyrics surprises. “If you want to swing and shout/Get your heels and get about/I’m an errand boy for rhythm…Send me.” There could be a realization that the devil is in the details. Cole was born March 17, 1919. And isn’t this show around a 99 year anniversary or so? This is homage to a hero in fact.

John Pizzarelli


“This Will Make You Laugh” (Irene Higginbotham) and “For Sentimental Reasons” (Watson/Best) was an unusual pairing. But to hear “This Will Make You Laugh” (Of all the fools, I break the rules, I love you still you see, This will make you laugh, But it’s not funny to me) deepened the experience of hearing “For Sentimental Reasons” (I love you for sentimental reasons, I hope you do believe me). Method to the wonderful madness.

There is a food medley: “Firm Fram Sauce” (Evans, Richardel), “Save the Bones for Henry Jones” (Barker). Joke is that Henry is a vegetarian. And Pizzarelli’s composition of “Headed Out to Vera’s.” (Pizzarelli with Gordon Kemble).

“Straighten Up and Fly Right” (Nat King Cole) was a delight and should be required hearing for all and everywhere. But the detonation occurred in two instrumentals “Body and Soul” (Heyman/Sour) and “Sweet Georgia Brown” (Bernie/Pinkard/Kenneth Casey). The roof left the elegant Carlyle Café and there is no better guide to musical joy than John Pizzarelli. To put a button on the night, the last number “Route 66” (Bobby Troup) left us wanting more.


Photos: David Andrako


John Pizzarelli is at The Cafe Carlyle through March 24.


The Cafe Carlyle, 35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10075 (212) 744-1600