Violinist Aaron Weinstein and guitarist John Pizzarelli are as compatible as can be on this collection of duo performances, inspired by similar swing-era influences and so closely attuned to each other’s touch and tone that each collaboration flows easily, no matter how fast the tempo. A breakneck pace, in fact, only underscores how well matched these musicians are.
Weinstein, who counts Stuff Smith, Joe Venuti and Stephane Grappelli among his chief influences, brings verve and lyricism to the mostly vintage pop melodies, while Pizzarelli, a seven-string wizard, laces the performances with pianistic comping and propulsive, ever-shifting chordal solos.
Sure, the latter croons a tune, but only one (an alternately dreamy and vibrant rendering of “Don’t Be That Way”), so the instrumentalists have plenty of time to reinvigorate “I Want to Be Happy,” “You Do Something to Me” and “Diga Diga Doo,” or to infuse “Melancholy Lullaby,” “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” and “The Blue Room” with a soulful glow.
According to Nat Hentoff’s liner notes, Weinstein recalls that only two of the album’s 14 selections—“Raggin’ the Scale” and “Don’t Be That Way”—were “very specifically arranged.” Yet it’s clear from the outset that there’s a lot to be said for spontaneity when you’re dealing with a pairing this inspired. Besides the seminal pop and jazz tunes, the album boasts the Pizzarelli-penned title cut and a version of Bobby Darin’s “As Long as I’m Singing” that swings right down to the Count Basie tagline.