John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey: American Stories @ The Carlyle - New York City Article

John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey: American Stories @ The Carlyle

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John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey: American Stories @ The Carlyle

Nov 7, 2018

John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey, "American Stories"
The Café Carlyle
35 E 76th Street, (212) 744-1600
Through November 17

What’s the difference between a medley and a mashup? For the 13th annual appearance at the Carlyle of the husband-and-wife team of John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, they make a clear distinction. Early in the show, they combine two Great Depression songs about money, “The Golddiggers Song (We’re in the Money”) and “Plenty of Money and You,” both by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, both from Busby Berkeley Golddiggers movies - and they fit together seamlessly, almost as if they were written to go together. That’s atypical of the Pizzarelli-Molaskey construct, however, the team is usually about the jamming together of incongruous elements, songs or even just parts of songs together, to watch how they mix in surprising ways, like a chemistry lab experiment.
Such mashing up begins with the two principles themselves, of obviously diverse ethnic groups and musical backgrounds; she’s Broadway and Stephen Sondheim, he’s jazz and King Cole Trio. For example, when I saw “Landslide” on their set list, I expected to hear the bebop number by Dexter Gordon, instead it turns out to be a song by Stevie Nicks. That diversity is their strength: by journeying from a traditional love song like “As Time Goes By” to “Errand Boy for Rhythm” (a King Cole variation on Gershwin) to a pair of introspective tunes from Paul Simon (“The Late Great Johnny Ace” into “The Boy in the Bubble”) they cause us to make new connections in our synapses, and engage us on a whole other level. Even after 13 years, there’s no shortage of surprises, ie, hearing the Miles Davis jazz standard “Seven Steps to Heaven” repurposed as a whimsical commentary on the state of dating apps - and this from a couple that’s been married since well before the advent of Tinder. As far as witty, intelligent, swinging, and thoroughly enjoyable shows go, I’m swiping right on this one.

Featuring: Conrad Paszkudzki, piano, and Mike Karn, bass.

Photography by David Andrako

For more information and reservations, click here.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

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.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)