Review by Holli Harms
Listen, this is all I really need to say:” Go!!” Go See John Pizzarelli and his marvelous band at Cafe Carlyle! It is all that needs to be said, but this is a review, so I will say more, I will say why you should go.
When you put these words together, “New York,” and “elegance,” shake them in a box and spill them on a table, they will spell Cafe Carlyle. With its marvelous music-themed mural walls painted by Marcel Vertès in 1955 and recently cleaned in 2007 (all that cigar smoke from those very fashionable men in the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s had darkened much of the murals),and distinguished table settings and staff, the Carlyle is a throwback to the New York of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, to the one Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin sing about in “On The Town.“ However, “the most fabulous sight we can safely say is New York…” not in “the light of the day,” but the dark of the night and the Cafe Carlyle is why.
Now, about John: When you think you know music, all of it from pop, rap, jazz and classical, someone like John Pizzarelli comes along and you realize there is more to music then what you thought you knew. With his voice, and backup band of piano, bass and drums, John enamors; has you slapping the table, clicking you fingers, tapping your toes. With his guitar he adds this… well what he’s doing with that guitar is astonishing. To this listener’s ears, its jazzed-up rock and roll antics talking to me. It’s nerd jazz – smart, funny and sexy. Pizzarelli, the son of famous jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, is a triple threat of guitarist, singer and performer. His show is as much about teaching the history of American song and jazz and the music business as it is about sharing his personal musical wealth.
The set list began with Nat King Cole, and songs Paper Moon and Sweet Lorraine starting the evening, and delightfully rounding it all out with wonderfully whimsical songs from Route 66 to Frim Fram Sauce. Every piece was a constant pleasurable surprise.
So I’ll say it one more time. “Go!!”
Cafe Carlyle 35 East 76 Street, New York, New York, 10075, 212 744 1600
Set List: (Subject to Change) Paper Moon (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, Billy Rose), Sweet Lorraine (Cliff Burwell, Mitchell Parish), I’m An Errand Boy For Rhythm (Nat King Cole), This Will Make You Laugh (Irene Higginbotham), For Sentimental Reasons (Ivory “Deek” Watson, William “Pat” Best), Frim Fram Sauce (Reed Evans, Joe Richardel), Save The Bones For Henry Jones (Danny Barker), Headed Out To Vera’s (John Pizzarelli, Grover Kemble,) Portrait Of Jenny (J. Russell Robinson, Gordon Burdge), The Best Man (Roy Alfred, Fred Wise), Straighten Up And Fly Right (Nat King Cole), Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You (Andy Razaf, Don Redman), Baby Baby All The Time (Bobby Troup), Midnight Blue (Neal Hefti), Route 66 (Bobby Troup)