John Pisano’s Guitar Night
Mel Bay Records
The title of this extraordinary double-disc set might be construed as misleading after scanning the fine print. John Pisano collaborating with George Van Eps, Herb Ellis, Ted Greene, Anthony Wilson, Scott Henderson, Peter Bernstein, Corey Christiansen, Pat Kelley, Joe Diorio, Larry Koonse, Frank Potenza and Barry Zweig? That’s some night, alright.
The truth is, these performances, 16 tracks in all, were drawn from recordings made at the West Coast bistros Papashon and Spazio over the last decade, with Pisano presiding and sometimes providing congenial support for fellow guitarists. The focus is on standards, naturally, and just as naturally, it seems, the musicians develop a conversational rapport even when the tempos are fleet and chord changes brisk. Highlights? Well, it goes without saying that the performances featuring Van Eps and Greene, who have since passed on, are among them, and not merely for sentimental reasons. Accompanied by bassist Luther Hughes, Van Eps kicks things off with “I’ll Never Be the Same,” a short but splendid showcase for his seven-string artistry. A quartet arrangement of “Falling in Love With Love,” featuring Zweig and Pisano, is a delight right down to the witty James Moody-inspired tag line. Neither blues nor bop are in short supply here, but particularly blue and lyrical is Joe Diorio’s rendering of “’Round Midnight.”
This collection is a reminder that Pisano long ago mastered the art of keeping good company.