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John Pizzarelli On Piano Jazz

John Pizzarelli.
Courtesy of the artist
John Pizzarelli.

Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli is one of the hottest acts in jazz today. With his hip, swinging and sophisticated style, he makes music that sounds both classic and thoroughly modern.

He comes by his guitar playing honestly: He's the son of jazz guitarist John "Bucky" Pizzarelli (a 1999 Piano Jazz alum) who often sat in with Marian McPartland during her 10-year reign at the 52nd Street jazz spot the Hickory House. The elder Pizzarelli, of course, helped his son get his start, as John recalled during his first Piano Jazz appearance in 2001.

Since his debut album in 1990, John Pizzarelli has devoted a number of his recordings to his favorite artists. Two of those, Dear Mr. Cole and P.S. Mr. Cole, have been in the form of musical letters to the man Pizzarelli credits in this show with having made him pursue jazz: Nat "King" Cole. With his trio, Pizzarelli performs a pair of tunes Cole made famous: "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and a lesser-known ballad by Irene Higgenbotham called "This Will Make You Laugh," a tune Pizzarelli describes as the Nat "King" Cole hit that never was.

Fans of Major League Baseball will be familiar with Pizzarelli's version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," which was featured during ESPN's coverage of the 2008 season. He continues the sports theme on this program with Johnny Mercer's song about a legendary Rose Bowl comeback, engineered by a swinging musician named "Jamboree Jones."

John's trio includes his brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass and drummer Tony Tedesco, who has been backing the Pizzarelli brothers for more than ten years. John Pizzarelli's latest album is With a Song in My Heart.

Originally recorded Aug. 6, 2008.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Lyon