John Pizzarelli’s trio with pianist Ray Kennedy and brother-bassist Martin Pizzarelli is one of the most swinging, entertaining live acts in jazz. That’s what made 2002’s Live at Birdland such a pleasure. The earlier Kisses in the Rain is also hard to beat for its drumless, Cole-inspired fire and jocular mood. Pizzarelli is at his best when giving the Songbook a minimalist spin-having Tony Tedesco play brushes on a book, for instance, throughout 2000’s Let There Be Love. But on last year’s Bossa Nova, Pizzarelli seemed out of his element, with his vocal limitations exposed and his personality constrained.
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