Season closer at Feinstein’s at the Regency marks the fifth annual gig for John Pizzarelli and family at the posh uptown nitery. John is a remarkably assured and musically gifted guitarist and a smoothly personable crooner. Brother Martin is a proficient timekeeper, while Ray Kennedy’s boldly colorful piano lines bring a comfortable sense of balance to the group’s unified sound. The group swings hard, and the union preserves the familiar textural structure of the Nat “King” Cole trio as they were heard during a decadelong run as a popular recording unit in the ’40s.
The trio offers a brace of standards, brimming with romanticism and sublime melodic form. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney are remembered with the Jimmy Van Heusen-Johnny Burke ballad “Moonlight Becomes You” and Matt Dennis’ jump tune “Will You Still Be Mine?” The tunes also are featured on the trio’s celebratory, 10th-anniversary disc “Live at Birdland” (Telarc).
Pretty thrush Jessica Molaskey (aka Mrs. John P.) took centerstage to mark the debut of her PS Classics CD “A Good Day,” a tribute to Peggy Lee. Molaskey sang “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” a 1946 song Lee wrote with her guitarist and then-husband, Dave Barbour. The tune was rendered with a sensual, feathery approach. Her purring version of “Somebody Loves Me” revealed a uniquely sultry approach to the nearly 80-year-old George Gershwin tune.
Pianist Kennedy framed Molaskey’s take on “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face” with exceptional style and grace. In a playful duet, John took Jon Hendricks’ “Def Jam Swings” for a spinning jazz ride, countered by Molaskey’s defiant Sondheim stand “(I’m Not) Getting Married Today.”
Introducing family patriarch Bucky Pizzarelli, son John quipped, “Dad used to sell 78 records after a performance.” The legendary guitarist traded lines on a churning chorus of “Dinah,” followed by a romping duet of “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Bucky slowed the tempo to solo with a sublimely poetic turn on Richard Rodgers’ “This Nearly Was Mine.”
John encored with a quick spin on the familiar Foxwoods resort TV commercial, on which the trio appears, and his trademark nod to the Garden State, “I Like Jersey Best,” tapping Sting, Lady Day and Bob Dylan, among others, for witty impersonations.
The hour is a bracing blend of bright swinging jazz, a touch of dry humor and warming romantic balladry.