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John Pizzarelli Trio: Live at Birdland

It’s been 20 years since singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli made his recording debut as a leader and 10 since he teamed with brother and bassist Martin and pianist Ray Kennedy to emulate Nat “King” Cole with his kickass drummerless trio. Celebrating the latter landmark and revisiting material that dates as far back as the first, Pizzarelli and partners landed in New York City last September for a three-day visit that netted the impressive double-disc keepsake Live at Birdland.

All the fan favorites are here, including such perennial Pizzarelli staples as “The Frim Fram Sauce,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Three Little Words.” Here, too, are several winningly familiar Pizzarelli yarns. Best among them is an oft-told story involving the Library of Congress, George Gershwin’s piano and Kennedy’s performance for an appreciative (if invisible) audience of one. The first gentleman of contemporary jazz-spend five minutes with Pizzarelli and you’ll fully appreciate his inimitable warmth, humor and munificence of spirit-also offers heartfelt salutes to his frequent touring and recording companion Rosemary Clooney and to his long-ago music partner Grover Kemble.

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