Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Bucky Pizzarelli: Challis in Wonderland

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

This may be a more urbane offering than guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli’s recent Western swing forays, but it’s no less charming in its own way, with and without strings attached.

The CD’s title refers to renowned early jazz arranger Bill Challis, best known for his pioneering collaborations with cornet player Bix Beiderbecke. Pizzarelli’s admiration for Challis is perhaps second to one: Benny Carter, who championed his groundbreaking arrangements early on. It’s not hard to share their enthusiasm while listening to the five Beiderbecke-Challis collaborations gathered here, especially the harmonically sophisticated “In a Mist,” with its tricky intervals and fitful chordal motion, and “Davenport Blues,” one of four performances enhanced by Dick Lieb’s evocative string quartet arrangements. The album’s title track, on the other hand, is a Pizzarelli original, a lovely minor-key homage to a major league artist. It’s something of a family affair, too, with John Pizzarelli, celebrated offspring and fellow seven-stringer, turning in the first of four neatly tailored album appearances.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published