By Tulis McCall
First – the kitchen at the Carlyle Hotel is still closed. Yes they have no bananas. Period. Staff says December. I have a $20 says 2019. This, however, has not deterred the folks who come to watch the folks who play.
Second and really the First – Pizzarelli and Molaskey are baaaaack!!! And we are the better for it. I have been at the Carlyle for several of this duo’s residencies. John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey opened their 13th (?) fall appearance to a full and appreciative house. Who needs food when we can feast on the music these two make together? Seriously. I now make it a routing to bring a moderate supply of Kleenex as I know I will be leaking tears. This year it took about three bars of Jessica Molaskey singing American Tune (Paul Simon). Remember this was November 6th, the evening of the mid-term election when all I wanted was eyes on the Internet to follow the returns. Here is the opening lyric:
Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
But I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home
In one song – and we had all been swept into the collective arms of, oh I don’t know, some comforting Goddess who is all about reassuring us – especially these days. One song in – tears a-flowing.
This is a night of American Stories, and you would do well to take advantage of Pizzarelli and Molaskey’s musical and storytelling skills. Their choices are meticulously thought out and their aim is true. They aim for your heart. Couldn’t we all use a positive tug at our heartstrings????
Over the evening there are the strumming jaunty numbers guided by Pizzarelli that shift us in time back decades. Joe Mooney’s Man With One Million Dollars (1949) nestles up to there Money Medley. They slide into a duet Trip on a Train/Waiting for the Train To Come In and there you are sitting on a train, book in hand but not reading and at the same moment you are the person on the old fashioned platform waiting on — whom?
We take a trip across the pond and the Beatles are included with While My Guitar Gently Weeps blended seamlessly with Killing Me Softly (Fox and Gimbel). James Taylor’s On the 4th Of July – well that’s just dreamy – but once again we are listening to lyrics to which we never paid serious attention so all is fresh.
There is a lot of storytelling that feels like we were sitting around a bar late at night – like the way Zoot Sims would sit in with Bucky Pizzarelli, and when he was not around he sent people in his place – no announcement made or permission granted. Zoot sent subs.
Nat King Cole, Hupfeld’s As Time Goes By, and the night strolls on taking good care of us. As the show comes to a near close we are gifted with the “Children” trio: Children and Art, Children Will Listen, and You’ve Got To be Carefully Taught. So much to soak up and take with us.
There is a standard iconic tune that closes the night – why? Because JP can. And did I mention the extraordinary skills of Konrad Paszkudzki on piano (this guy makes it look so easy you will be tempted to sit in yourself) and Mike Karn who is positively elegant on that bass.
In all – how can you pass these two up? They are hopeful, funny, talented and inspiring. Everything that out political leader of the moment is not. They are so respected that Loston Harris – playing at Bemelman’s Bar across the hallway, stopped in for a visit. We need to main-line Pizzarelli and Molaskey as often as possible. Like Wonder Bread – they build strong bodies 12 million ways. Bravo, Bravas, Bravat.
Through November 17 Café Carlyle. Performances will take place Tuesday – Saturday at 8:45pm. Weekday pricing begins at $110 per person / Bar Seating: $75 / Premium Seating: $160. Weekend pricing begins at $135 per person / Bar Seating: $100 / Premium Seating: $185. Reservations can be made by phone at 212.744.1600 or online via Ticketweb. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).