The Pizzarelli family is holding its third annual family reunion at Feinstein’s at the Regency. The John Pizzarelli trio, celebrating a 10th anniversary as a unit, is a firmly disciplined group. John’s guitar playing is crisply fluent and imaginative, complemented by the polished sheen of Ray Kennedy’s piano and the boldly firm bass lines provided by bro Martin Pizzarelli. The boundless pleasures of the trio are heightened by the firmly planted coordination of the threesome, as comfortably aligned as peas in a pod.
John’s pleasant light baritone and firm sense of swing finds him scatting on “Lulu’s Back in Town” and adding torchy romanticism to “Something to Remember You By.” Both are featured on his new Telarc CD, “The Rare Delight of You.” The disc, which teams him with the legendary George Shearing Quintet, was also represented by “Lemon Twist,” a timeless Bobby Troup bop tune.
Jessica Molaskey (John’s significant other) co-wrote “The Gangster Rap” with her husband. It’s a “Mafia hit on the heart,” a tongue-in-cheek love song, playfully rendered.
Molaskey has a warm and appealing delivery and a secure sense of time. From her new PS Classics CD, “Pentimento,” Molaskey sings “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” turning the 80-year-old vaudeville tune by Eubie Blake into a seductive serenade. She reveals a blushing intimacy with Noble Sissle’s lyric “The heav’nly blisses of his kisses fill me with ecstasy.”
Kennedy performed his new comp “The Gospel Truth,” a rambling slow blues that was expressively tonal and musically picturesque. Harmonically stimulating and braced by a firm melodic structure, Kennedy’s supple keyboard grace is decidedly a trio asset.
There are guitarists and there are guitarists, and then there is Bucky Pizzarelli. The family patriarch was introduced by son John as “the head of the von Trapps!” The trademark bold rhythmic chords and subtle melodic lines cushioned such evergreens as “Little Coquette” and “More Than You Know.” Bucky traditionally avoids introspective study of his approach to the instrument. The clean simple beauty of his playing says it all.
The whole family joined for a nod to the late Peggy Lee with her classic wake-up call “It’s a Good Day.” Closer was a sentimental medley of “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams.” It’s quite likely that the Pizzarellis gather at the holidays for fireside musicales. For a few weeks at Feinstein’s, it’s open house.