JOHN PIZZARELLI Live at Berrie Center in Ramapo NJ

Posted by Michael Mueller on January 28, 2010 at 11:19 AM

John PizzarelliThis past Sunday night (1/24), jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli brought his improvisational cabaret-style show to the Berrie Center for the Arts at Ramapo College, in Mahwah, New Jersey. Drawing largely from the catalogs of Hammerstein, Rodgers, Hart, and Kern, Pizzarelli plied his masterly interpretations of such beloved standards as "Happy Talk," "I Like to Recognize the Tune," and "Lovers," interspersed with informative and humorous back stories for many of them.

Much of Pizzarelli's banter in the first set was based on his family—most of whom were in attendance. Then, after a brief intermission, Pizzarelli invited his father, jazz guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, to join him onstage. The duo engaged in several wonderful duets, while in between songs, the audience was treated to what was essentially a hilarious yet friendly roast of the elder Pizzarelli. Not deterred by the jokes at his expense, Bucky stuck around and joined the quartet for several rousing numbers, including "Honeysuckle Rose," "Rhode Island," and fan favorite "I Like Jersey Best," for the remainder of the second set.

Pizzarelli's notable quartet also deserves some attention here. John's younger brother Martin Pizzarelli handily held down the low end and the groove in tandem with extraordinary drummer and long-time collaborator Tony Tedesco. Pianist Larry Fuller is an absolute beast on the keys, offering nimble, virtuosic lines that never stray into self-indulgence.

Although Pizzarelli treats his performances as entertainment first, he offered just enough explosive fits of fretboard fury to remind the guitar players in the audience that he's got more chops than a north Jersey butcher shop. Add to that his impressive scat-singing, matched only by the great George Benson, and you wonder why the name John Pizzarelli isn't mentioned more often in discussions of jazz guitar heroes.

Get online guitar video lessons with John Pizzarelli here!


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