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CD Review: John Pizzarelli "Double Exposure" 05/12/12
May 20, 2012

  Release Date 05/15/12 

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Review By: Melissa Berry

 
John Pizzarelli "Double Exposure"
 
 
 

Telarc

 

John Pizzarelli has become an icon and his music timeless, although he's seems much too young for this. “Double Exposure,” his newest album released May 15th, is wonderful as usual. But this is even more wonderful for so many reasons and on so many levels. First of all, it's a hybrid using some of the timeless songs we're familiar with from James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, and Elvis Costello. These songs are coupled with some famous musical licks in the style of Gene Krupa and Chet Baker.

 

Some of the cuts will undoubtedly get to both sides of your brain. Musically, your heart will be captured. Intellectually, John and Jessica Molaskey's (his wife) challenge you with some of their wicked, special lyrics paralleling the original songs with their unique, athletic candor.

 

John Pizzarelli captured my heart initially with his infinitely delicious album Bossa Nova (Concord - 2004) he made with Russ Titelman producer. He's back with two exceptionally lovely pieces of bossa nova style on DOUBLE EXPOSURE. Both his interpretations of Billy Joel's "Rosalinda" and Joni Mitchell's "Free Man In Paris” are the 21st Century grown-up versions of these two memorable older songs. He creates a magical, thoughtful moment with the quiet and relaxed acoustic bossa nova softening the original bite of each song. Both are worth listening to many times over as I've couldn't resist doing.

 

The following unique is James Taylor's "Traffic Jam" combined with Joe Henderson's "The Kicker". The opening of this "Traffic Jam/The Kicker" sets the tone with a drum solo by Tony Tedeso that is decidedly reminiscent of is Gene Krupa's famous "jungle beat" solo from the 1936 "Swing, Swing, Swing".  From this, it moves to scat perfection with the synchronization of the Pizzarelli/Molaskey’s always keen scat partnership. Their take on James Taylors' humorously urgent lyrics is given a playful turn their addition of some original lyrics. Jessica Molaskey - John's partner in crime, and talented singer/performer in her own right is credited with the special lyrics. Her lyrics are truly unique and not for the intellectually challenged. Unless you're familiar with "No Exit" by Jean Paul Sarte and Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", some of the humor will be lost on you. Not to worry, there's plenty to go around for everyone with her lyrics.

 
A song of theirs that is entirely original with the same Pizzarelli/Molaskey great, personal lyrics is "Take A Lot of Pictures". Pizzarelli says, "the song, penned by myself and Jessica, is based on an expression employed by Frank Sinatra whenever he got roped into having to pose for a lot of photographs backstage before a gig. Someone would ask, 'Mind if I take a few more, Mr. Sinatra?' An increasingly agitated Blue Eyes would mutter, 'Take a lot of pictures,' implying this to be his final time at this venue. Same can be said to the saying, 'It looks like rain.' If someone was bothering Sinatra at a party while he was talking to friends and he'd had enough, he would say to his cohorts, 'It looks like rain' and that mean, 'Let's get out of here.' In 'Take a Lot of Picture,' we see the relationship take a turn toward crazy." And that entirely explains the source of "Take a Lot of Pictures." Listen closely to the lyrics, and hopefully you won't remember anything like this being said to you.

 

Pizzarelli gives a new interpretation to one of the all-time notable songs, "Alison" by Elvis Costello. It is in this altogether different style that, in turn, changes the tone to much more intimate one than the original. Pizzarelli sings a slow, quietly sad ballad of dialogue with only one person speaking. The only other thing speaking on this cut is the sad, quiet trumpet by Tony Kadleck, reminiscent of Chet Baker, echoing the melancholy atmosphere.

 

Every one of Pizzarelli's choices for Double Exposure is so thoughtful in the melding of two songs including the "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young. Opening with a taste of the original "Harvest Moon, the Tin Pan Alley favorite credited to vaudevillian Nora Byes. The marriage of the two is so sweet without being cloying. The "Harvest Mood" intro sets the mood with the famous melody of the original and continues "Harvest Moon" by melding is two ballads that are so sweet without being at all cloying. The "Harvest Moon" intro sets the mood using the opening bars of the original "Shine On Harvest Moon". It continues with him playing lovely harmonics preceding each phrase he sings. The fiddle and a sweet organ in the background keep the whole song in character. The organ, played by jazz great Larry Goldings on Double Exposures, is a wonderful touch throughout this album. It's just a whiff of the organ that reminds us of what an important contribution this can be to the mood without being intrusive. It's also can be heard in "Free Man in Paris".

 

Every cut on this album is so highly personalized with John's "Pizz's spin. The marriage of the songs selected. The arrangements. The oh-so-very-special lyrics. All this makes a sensational album that has something new to discover every time you listen to it. This man seems to be able to do any and everything!

 

 

              

              

                                            

         

 

         

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