JOHN PIZZARELLI – STRICTLY BOSSA NOVA

John Pizzarelli and Daniel Jobim at the Carlyle; Credit Michael Wilhoite

John Pizzarelli and Daniel Jobim at the Carlyle; Credit Michael Wilhoite

I should really be tired of John Pizzarelli. Tired of the fact that every time he performs I end up weeping outright, or at the very least tearing up. If I had a therapist she would say that this was a good thing. But, as I am the one New Yorker not in therapy, my strategy is to wear as little eye makeup as possible. As in NONE.

In this show at the Carlyle, where Pizzarelli admits that he may be having the most fun he will have all year at a gig, he is paired with Daniel Jobim, grandson of THAT Jobim, whose voice, like his grandfather’s is gentle and sincere. They are joined by an extraordinary trio: Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Duduka DaFonseca on drums and Helio Alves on piano. The evening is dedicated not only to the Bossa Nova, but to Jobim himself who, we learn, was both a composer and an arranger.

The evening begins with Fascinating Rhythm (Gershwin) followed by classics that you would recognize, but because you don’t know Portuguese or Italian, the words will escape you. Pizzarelli makes you believe that he understands exactly what he is singing. And while this may not be the case, he knows how to get the job done anyway.  Like his father, Bucky, John Pizzarelli creates magic when he picks up a guitar.  He makes it look effortless.  He makes it look like fun.  Which makes you want to listen for as long as he will stay.

The banter is almost as excellent as the music. We hear the story of Pizzarelli discovering an album Amoroso, by João Gilberto, arranged by Claus Oberman. The first time he heard it was in 1980 while driving in his Datsun 210 with his father, Bucky, who turned the volume on the radio up so high that the sound was distorted. Along with The Best of Nat King Cole (also acquired in 1980) Pizzarelli pronounces Amoroso a MUST HAVE.

He gives us My Valentine, a recent composition of Paul McCartney, with whom Pizzarelli performed a few years back, which didn’t start out as a “Samba” (pronounced SAM-bah by Sir Paul) but sure works as one. We float along to the standards bossa nova style: Baubles Bangles and Beads and Cole Porter’s I Concentrate On You, followed by the real deal in Wave, and Dindi.

There are more stories: Sinatra (the only man who could smoke and sing) and Jobim flying about on Sinatra’s private jet, where an upright piano was a permanent fixture; Jobim, sitting at a bar in Ipanema sipping a few drinks and watching the girls walking by not looking at him; when Jobim was asked to suspend his drink – he raised the drink high in the air, thus suspending it….

Finally we arrive at the iconic Girl From Ipanema. The night is tied up in a bow with Waters of March (A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road, It’s the rest of a stump, it’s a little alone) that Jobim woke to write one night on a brown paper bag, and One Note Samba.

The remarkable fact about this evening is that it is so wide reaching that you forget it is dedicated to one man. Jobim’s range was extraordinary and infused itself into our lives without a ripple. It is difficult to believe he was not always with us. That there is a Before Jobim and an After Jobim on our universal time line is a surprise when you stop to think about it.

I don’t know when I cried exactly – it was more like leaking tears as the waves of bossa nova swept over me between sips of whiskey and very hot tea. It’s a great combination: bossa nova, whiskey and tears.

JOHN PIZZARELLI – STRICTLY BOSSA NOVA at Café Carlyle March 18-29, 2014. Performances will take place Tuesday – Friday at 8:45pm; and Saturdays at 8:45pm and 10:45pm. Tickets are $100 ($140 for premium seating, $55 for bar seating) Tuesdays – Thursdays & Saturday late show; and $110 ($160 for premium seating, $65 for bar seating) on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations can be made at www.thecarlyle.com or by phone at 212.744.1600. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue.

I should really be tired of John Pizzarelli. Tired of the fact that every time he performs I end up weeping outright, or at the very least tearing up. If I had a therapist she would say that this was a good thing. But, as I am the one New Yorker not in therapy, my strategy is to wear as little eye makeup as possible. As in NONE.

In this show at the Carlyle, where Pizzarelli admits that he may be having the most fun he will have all year at a gig, he is paired with Daniel Jobim, grandson of THAT Jobim, whose voice, like his grandfather’s is gentle and sincere. They are joined by an extraordinary trio: Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Duduka DaFonseca on drums and Helio Alves on piano. The evening is dedicated not only to the Bossa Nova, but to Jobim himself who, we learn, was both a composer and an arranger.

The evening begins with Fascinating Rhythm (Gershwin) followed by classics that you would recognize, but because you don’t know Portuguese or Italian, the words will escape you. Pizzarelli makes you believe that he understands exactly what he is singing. And while this may not be the case, he knows how to get the job done anyway.

The banter is almost as excellent as the music. We hear the story of Pizzarelli discovering an album Amoroso, by João Gilberto, arranged by Claus Oberman. The first time he heard it was in 1980 while driving in his Datsun 210 with his father, Bucky, who turned the volume on the radio up so high that the sound was distorted. Along with The Best of Nat King Cole (also acquired in 1980) Pizzarelli pronounces Amoroso a MUST HAVE.

He gives us My Valentine, a recent composition of Paul McCartney, with whom Pizzarelli performed a few years back, which didn’t start out as a “Samba” (pronounced SAM-bah by Sir Paul) but sure works as one. We float long to the standards bossa nova style: Baubles Bangles and Beads and Cole Porter’s I Concentrate On You, followed by the real deal in Wave, and Dindi.

There are more stories: Sinatra (the only man who could smoke and sing) and Jobim flying about on Sinatra’s private jet, where an upright piano was a permanent fixture; Jobim, sitting at a bar in Ipanema sipping a few drinks and watching the girls walking by not looking at him; when Jobim was asked to suspend his drink – he raised the drink high in the air, thus suspending it….

Finally we arrive at the iconic Girl From Ipanema. The night is tied up in a bow with Waters of March (A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road, It’s the rest of a stump, it’s a little alone) that Jobim woke to write one night on a brown paper bag, and One Note Samba.

The remarkable fact about this evening is that it is so wide reaching that you forget it is dedicated to one man. Jobim’s range was extraordinary and infused itself into our lives without a ripple. It is difficult to believe he was not always with us. That there is a Before Jobim and an After Jobim on our universal time line is a surprise when you stop to think about it.

I don’t know when I cried exactly – it was more like leaking tears as the waves of bossa nova swept over me between sips of whiskey and very hot tea. Sort of International, don’t you think?

JOHN PIZZARELLI – STRICTLY BOSSA NOVA at Café Carlyle March 18-29, 2014. Performances will take place Tuesday – Friday at 8:45pm; and Saturdays at 8:45pm and 10:45pm. Tickets are $100 ($140 for premium seating, $55 for bar seating) Tuesdays – Thursdays & Saturday late show; and $110 ($160 for premium seating, $65 for bar seating) on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations can be made at www.thecarlyle.com or by phone at 212.744.1600. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue.

Tulis McCall

Author: Tulis McCall

For my money, the theatre is up there in the ten top reasons to be human. I leave my home and go sit in a dark room with complete strangers and watch actors do their stuff because I want to be inspired. I’m asking to be involved. I’m volunteering to be led down any old path they choose as long as they don’t let go of my hand. And if I see a show, and it is NOT so very good – I will try to divert you, because I don’t want you to come to the temple when the preaching isn’t up to snuff. I will bar the door, I will swing from rafters, I will yell FIRE just to set your feet on a path that does not lead to disappointment. Do something different with your evening I will say. Save your money for dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in months because you are too frigging busy. Go take a walk with your dog or your child or your significant other. Go to bed early, I will say. Don’t come to the theatre when it is less than it can be. I’m an usher snob, and that’s all there is to it.

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