JT Video Premiere: “Straighten Up and Fly Right” by the John Pizzarelli Trio

Track appears on the guitarist and vocalist’s new album For Centennial Reasons: 100 Year Salute to Nat King Cole

John Pizzarelli
John Pizzarelli (Photo: Brian K. Saunders)

JazzTimes is honored to present the premiere of the John Pizzarelli Trio’s new video for “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” a track that appears on their latest album, For Centennial Reasons: 100 Year Salute to Nat King Cole, released by Ghostlight Deluxe on Feb. 8.

For this new version of the Cole classic—credited to the singer/pianist himself (who would have turned 100 on Mar. 17 of this year) and publisher Irving Mills—Pizzarelli, on vocal and guitar, is accompanied by bassist Mike Karn and pianist Konrad Paszkudzki.

Pizzarelli comments on the track: “‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’ was the song that made me love not just Nat King Cole, but jazz in general. When I was in my late teens, before I was immersed in the great standards, I was working a club called Giulio’s, accompanying my buddy Joe Francis, who looked and sang like Dick Haymes. I only had to offer material spanning from Michael Franks to Kenny Rankin to James Taylor. My musical tank was very low on standard songs. Joe’s sister came to see us one night and recommended I take a listen to a new record by the singer/songwriter Frank Weber called …As the Time Flies. I loved the album and nestled in the original songs was ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right.’  Well, I was just discovering this classic and thought this was the best thing ever. I rushed home and ‘introduced’ it to my father. He of course knew the original Nat King Cole version from his salad days. The compilations The Best of the Nat ‘King’ Cole Trio, Parts 1 and 2 had just been released and I rushed out to Sam Goody to get them. It was a revelation to me, Nat’s relaxed style. Oscar Moore, who played guitar with the Cole Trio, became one of my major influences. I went on to record ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’ for my very first solo album I’m Hip (Please Don’t Tell My Father) in 1983, and then revisited it on Dear Mr. Cole in 1994. Now, after many years of performing it, we’ve further developed and clarified the arrangement and I feel like the new recording on For Centennial Reasons is the definitive version. To be able to revisit for a third time is exciting because it’s as though I am reliving the beginning of my career again, remembering when I first started loving standards. It’s like a homecoming.”

Go here to order the John Pizzarelli Trio’s For Centennial Reasons.