John Pizzarelli at Yoshi’s

Ed Hamilton reports on club performance by the singer and guitarist

John Pizzarelli recently had a 2-day gig at Yoshi’s San Francisco during their 40th anniversary celebration and his performance mixed a blend of music encompassing vocals, storytelling, and virtuoso guitar playing. Leading a quartet featuring his brother Mark on bass, Tony Tedesco on drums, Larry Fuller on piano and himself on guitar entertained a full-house musically and vocally with compositions and songs from the works of George Shearing, Bobby Troupe, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Richie P. Havens, Joni Mitchell, Donald Fagen and Paul McCartney.

He unveiled songs from his Double Exposure CD explaining that the music were hybrid combinations of two artists—himself and another. Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man In Paris”; Donald Fagen’s “Walk Between the Raindrops”; Richie P. Haven’s “Here Comes the Sun”; Paul McCartney’s “Can’t Buy Me Love”; and Joseph Cosgrip’s “I Like Jersey Best.”

The set commenced with jazz standards: George Shearing’s arrangement “A Rare Delight” ; Bobby Troupe’s “Lemon Twist”; Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Satin Doll”; and Basie’s “Little Darlin'.’”

John’s music was mixed with vocals and interspersed with Latin, jazz, and pop rhythms. reflecting the various eras of music listening shared with his father Bucky, who holds the Guinness Book Record for the most recorded guitarist during the 50’s and 60’s.

John reminisced about the time he and dad were listening to the radio and Benny King’s “Spanish Harlem” played and his dad said, “I played on that.” Del Shannon’s “Runaway” was playing and Bucky said, “I was on that with Milt Hinton and Osie Johnson.” John went on to say, “Dad said he was on Dion’s and the Clover’s ‘Ruby Baby’ and that’s when I really did some investigation and found out—Dad was on every one of them.” And I can attest to his Dad’s guitar versatility as I have a Gene Ammons album entitled Capurange and he plays rhythm guitar behind Kenny Burrell’s lead guitar and one with him playing with The 3-Sounds.

John’s group coalesced superbly and dynamically contributed their individual rhythmic nuances—great compliments to a guitarist who renders a brilliant performance and literally sings with his strings.

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Ed Hamilton