Cabaret Review by Sandi Durell
Cool and velvety smooth John Pizzarelli and wife Jessica Molaskey are back at the sumptuous Café Carlyle for their 8th year. Last season they paid homage to Children and Art – and now it’s time for the grown ups!
They’re the epitome of cool jazz styling – – John, a master on his 7-string guitar, as his fingers fly over the frets in uniquely brilliant instrumental arrangements of “How High the Moon” (Nancy Hamilton, Morgan Lewis) and “Parisian Thorofare” (Bud Powell) featuring the extreme talent of Konrad Paszkudski on piano, and sprinkled with John’s guitar stories.
Jessica, an accomplished songwriter, can really turn a phrase, her smoky jazz vocals sometimes reminiscent of the great ladies of the genre. But then, you’re suddenly aware of her legit soprano that rises like a crystal bell, clearly, in a reflective “Remember” paired with John’s “The Road You Didn’t Take” (Sondheim) as they conclude in counterpoint and harmony. Several songs are presented similarly, all gems – – “You Made Me Love You (Monaco, McCarthy) / It Had To Be You (Jones, Cahn)” or a funfilled “Country House (Sondheim) / Heart of the Country (McCartney)” peppered with scat. Together they are dynamite!
Molaskey has an engaging warm purring vibrato – “Dividing Day (Adam Guettel) / Lullaby (Billy Joel)” and when they get down on the clever self-penned “Dry Martini,” the ultimate saloon song, “get me out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini” (a Mae West phrase), it just punctuates the extreme talent you’re witnessing.
How do you outdo yourself? “Traffic Jam (James Taylor) / The Kicker (Joe Henderson with vocalese lyrics by Molaskey).”
This charming duo makes you feel right at home as they share fuzzy tales, stories and tidbits about their life together. They are genuinely funny in their low-key delivery. And they’re surrounded not only by the uber-talented Paszkudzki on piano, but also by Kevin Kanner on drums and Martin Pizzarelli (John’s brother) on double bass.
They’ll be doing their Grown Up Songs at Café Carlyle through November 22nd – it’s “The Little Things You Do Together” (Sondheim) that count!
Café Carlyle, 35 East 76 St. at Madison Ave.) 212 744-1600
*Photos: Sandi Durell