John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey - The Little Things You Do Together - New York City Article
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John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey: “The Little Things You Do Together”
The Café Carlyle
35 E 76th Street, (212) 744-1600
Through Saturday (November 18)
What’s the number one reason why crowds flock to the Carlyle, or any venue where the long-running husband-and-wife duo of John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey are working? If I had to pick one reason, it would be to hear their, showstopping rendition of what has become their signature number, an unlikely collage of two vocal obstacle course tongue twisters from two very different traditions: Stephen Sondheim’s “Getting Married Today” (from Company, 1970) and Jon Hendricks’s “Cloudburst” (itself based on an iconic tenor saxophone solo by Sam “The Man” Taylor with the jazz-R&B “crossover” group, Claude Cloud and the Thunderclaps, 1954). In a bravura display of inter-crossed cadenzas, he sings Hendricks and she sings Sondheim. The sheer technique and craft of this compositional collage (it won’t do to call it a “medley”) is breathtaking in itself, but the two songs are combined in such a way that makes them both even more entertaining that they were individually. Mr. and Mrs. Pizzarelli somehow figured out how the two tunes could be rendered in tandem: “Getting Married Today” already has several breaks intended for the insertion other melodies (including a lachrymose soprano and tenor who sing of the joys of matrimony) and “Cloudburst” also incorporates a direct quote from Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.” Smart people, those Pizzarellis.
The rest of the show is equally marvelous, including numbers from their two new solo albums (his take on Sinatra & Jobim @ 50, and hers on Joni Mitchell, both discussed thoroughly by me in the Wall Street Journal). There are other tour-de-force, multi-levelled song sandwiches that are nearly as satisfying like a happy combination of two jazz age standards, “I Want to Be Happy” and “Sometimes I’m Happy” that’s more Abbott & Costello than Steve & Eydie. And if you won’t be satisfied without one more showstopper, Mr. P’s encore on opening night was “I Like Jersey Best,” his increasingly epic and gleefully incongruous blend of Garden State chamber of commerce platitudes (words and music by Joe Cosgriff) intermingled with hysterically accurate take-downs of ‘60s and ‘70s pop stars.
photo: David Andrako
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)