John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey “Children and Art”
It happens every time. I think I’m going to cover musicians whose work I admire, and instead I rediscover why I admire them because at some the tears leak out my eyes and run and down my cheek. Music gets in past all the barriers, past the walls we put up and the defenses we erect just so we can pass for normal on the street and make it on to the subway in tact. We forget that we gather more than our togs when we leave home. We gather up all the protection elements as well.
When a duo like Pizzarelli and Molaskey sweep those barriers away with one flick of their musical wrists, well there you are. Weeping in your whiskey.
Although their styles and personalities are day and night, these two talented folks have found a way to weave story upon story. The majority of the evening, with the accompaniment to of the trio of Konrad Paszkudzki on Piano, Kevin Kanner on Drums and Martin Pizzarelli on Double Bas, is made up of parings as good as any wine and cheese presentation. And as they tell you from the beginning, this is a show that celebrates their 15 years of marriage (vows recently renewed) as well as their children.
The sing of how relationships begin – The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing and Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast – is followed by a smooth and snappy solo Coffee, Black (Maltby & Shire) from the musical Big. And then she stops in its tracks as Ms. Molaskey cracks the heart of the evening with the haunting The Beauty Is (“This is wanting something, this is taking chances…”). They then melt into the blending of I Only Have Eyes For You and It Amazes Me in which Molaskey is both singular and startling.
Next up is their now iconic duet of Cloudburst and Not Getting Married Today that I have heard so many times on Jonathan Schwartz I thought there would be nothing new for me to hear. I was so wrong. Ms. Molaskey’s comic sensibilities combined with Pizzarelli’s almost straight man gives the piece a laser beam accuracy. Love vs. hesitancy – have we not all been there?
Speaking of their life changes because of parenthood – clarity that was occasionally horrifying and the reality of sleep deprivation that led to a nap on a bench in the mall one day – they lead us to the fact that children arrive and your heart is broken. Period. The magic of I woke up Early One Morning is tempered with the drumbeat the parental alert: The Natives Are Restless Tonight. Perfecto and hilarious.
Pizzarelli gifts us with a guitar solo of the Ballad Of Sweeny Todd that is off the charts. They follow with a sweet and specific arrangements of Children and Art/Children Will Listen that sends you back to your own childhood in a thrice.
They close with The Secret Of Life by James Taylor. It is a beautiful conclusion to an elegant and magical evening. These are two folks who share not only consummate skills as musicians and performers, but share a mutual dedication to nurturing the secret of life. Not only are Pizzarelli and Molaskey enjoying the passage of time, they are seeing to it that we do as well.
Do yourselves a big fat favor and get over. Come early and grab a seat at the bar. They are the best in the house. Don’t forget to bring the Kleenex.
The show runs through Nov. 23 at the Café Carlyle, the Carlyle Hotel; 35 East 76th Street, 212-744-1600, thecarlyle.com.