Grown Up Songs – Pizzarelli and Molaskey at the Carlyle

Michael Wilhoite for Café Carlyle

Michael Wilhoite for Café Carlyle

Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli have returned to the Café Carlyle for their annual month-long residency. And we are the lucky ones, yes indeedy. This year their show is called Grown Up Songs. Their voices are rich, their hearts are true and their partnership is a thing of beauty.

Their approach to their music is unique to each. Molaskey is an actor who takes you on a tour of the heart with each song she sings. Pizzarelli most often sneaks in the back door of his songs and ends up surprising you with how deep his reach is.

The duo opened with The Little Things You Do Together, initially accapella with the facile percussive accents of Kevin Kanner, from Company, produced by Hal Prince (and the Prince was in the audience on the night I attended). They give it a light touch and the spice of a relationship that has lasted decades. Next up is their own composition, a spiffy little swinging number, The Forecast Is Love. 

Rhythm Is Our Business (Cahn/Caplin/Lunceford) is a chance for them to show off their scatting skills as well as to introduce their exceptional band: Konrad Paszkudzki on piano, Martin Pizzarelli on bass and the aforementioned Kevin Kanner on drums.

Their duet of You Made Me Love You (Monaco/McCarthy)/It Had To Be You (Jones/Kahn) was mesmerizing. Their inclusion of the verses changed up these tunes entirely. The two voices seem to come from different corners of a deserted park and wander toward one another without purpose, until of course they cross paths. At that point the wonderful melancholy of love lays itself out for us on a silver platter.

There is some actual talk of how they live and where. They grew up in rural places – Molaskey attending a 4 room school house –   and these days they shuttle between a brownstone in town and a house in the country. *Sigh.* They have learned that most of us are different people in the different places we call home. Our location affects our behavior. They combine another Sondheim (from Follies, produced by Hal Prince) with Paul McCartney: Country House/Heart of the Country. Not for nothin’, but if you want to hear the best ever McCartney imitation, ask Mr. Pizzareli….

I have never been a big fan of Adam Guettel’s Dividing Day (apologies to Jonathan Schwartz), but Molaskey changed my mind. I heard the song for the first time when she performed it and felt the devastation threaded though the simple lyrics. The paring of Pizzarelli singing Lullaby (Billy Joel) places us on the fulcrum of the seesaw of the relationship at the center of this piece.

Parisian Thorofare (Powell) is precisely that. A musical tour of Paris traffic from long ago. Blaring horns and melodies chasing themselves all about town, sometimes swinging, sometimes swerving like a cartoon taxi.

These two always make me cry. I sort of count on it. This time it was Pizzarelli’s guitar solo – How High the Moon (Morgan/Lewis). The way he plays it, we know exactly how high the moon is because he builds us a staircase that leads to it.

We are invited to get out of our wet clothes and into a dry martini. We are served more Sondheim (and Prince), swing a little more and are ushered, sadly, into the end of the evening. Count Your Blessings (Berlin) and Season of Love (Larson) meld together to reassure and inspire us. Consider you blessings and look for the moments of love in one year. When you have 525,600 minutes – how would you like to allocate them?

Pizzarelli and Molaskey have that part down quite well, thank you very much. They have a life that satisfies and inspires them: a creative relationship on all levels; wit and the sense to use it; talent and the sense to care for it and share because of it; wild thrashing hearts and the sense to let them run loose.

You have a month to see them. Don’t wait until the last minute you ninnies. Why put off pure pleasure?

Café Carlyle is pleased to welcome back acclaimed husband-and-wife duo John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey for a four-week engagement, October 28 – November 22. They’ll make their annual fall pilgrimage to The Carlyle with an all-new show entitled Grown Up Songs. Grown Up Songs features sophisticated selections for the most sophisticated venue in New York City with music by Stephen Sondheim, Johnny Mercer, Paul McCartney, Alan Jay Lerner, Adam Guettel, Billy Joel and more.

Performances will take place Tuesday – Friday at 8:45pm; and Saturday at 8:45pm & 10:45pm. Reservations made by phone at 212.744.1600 are $105 ($155 for premium seating, $55 for bar seating) Tuesday – Thursday; $135 ($185 for premium seating, $70 for bar seating) for Saturday; $115 ($165 for premium seating, $65 for bar seating) on Friday and the Saturday late show. Reservations made online at are $100 ($150 for premium seating) Tuesday – Thursday; $130 ($180 for premium seating) for Saturday; $110 ($160 for premium seating) on Friday and the Saturday late show. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (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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