SINGER/GUITARIST JOHN PIZZARELLI DELIVERS TWICE THE MUSICAL PUNCH ON NEW ALBUM
For nearly 30 years, guitarist John Pizzarelli has explored various corners of the jazz landscape and merged a variety of styles into a single, distinctive signature sound. On any given recording -- indeed, in any given song -- one is likely to encounter an entertaining convergence of jazz, swing, the American songbook, pop, bossa nova and more.
Double Exposure, Pizzarelli's latest recording on Telarc -- a division of Concord Music Group -- focuses on two distinct styles to make a single fine recording. Set for release on May 15, 2012, Double Exposure is a collection of tunes by some of the great pop songwriters of his own generation that are framed squarely within traditional jazz arrangements.
"I didn't want to just cover these songs, but rather find a way to present them that was unusual and interesting'" says Pizzarelli. "I think growing up in a household that had two specific record collections became the inspiration -- my father's jazz records, my sisters' record collection and records brought around by their friends."
The result is a fascinating and engaging musical hybrid. Double Exposure draws from a diverse pool of some of the best pop songwriters of the past five decades: Lennon and McCartney, Neil Young, James Taylor, Leiber and Stoller, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell and others. Woven into these memorable compositions are threads of jazz borrowed from figures like Wes Montgomery, Billy Strayhorn, Thad Jones and John Coltrane.
Pizzarelli is backed by his touring and studio band, featuring keyboardist Larry Fuller, bassist (and brother) Martin Pizzarelli and drummer Tony Tedesco. In addition, organist Larry Goldings assists on a number of tracks. A four-piece horn section arranged by Don Sebesky includes Tony Kadleck (trumpet, flugelhorn), John Mosca (trombone, euphonium), Kenny Berger (baritone sax, bass clarinet) and Andy Fusco (alto and tenor saxophone, clarinet), providing accents and embellishments along the way.
The 13-song set opens with the upbeat and uptempo "I Feel Fine/Sidewinder," a track which Pizzarelli describes as "Lennon and McCartney meet Lee Morgan." Before the recording sessions got under way in the fall of 2011, he and his band initially road tested the song at a Birdland gig in New York City. "There were kids there who were saying, 'Hey, we loved the way you played 'Sidewinder' inside a Beatles tune!'"
This jazz-flavored rendition of the Beatles classic is the latest chapter in the prolific Pizzarelli-McCartney association that has developed over the past few months. Pizzarelli appears on several tracks on McCartney's new album, Kisses on the Bottom, a collection of standards (plus two McCartney originals) released in early February. Two days after the release, Pizzarelli performed with Sir Paul at an iTunes concert at Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood, California. The two also performed together at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on February 12, 2012.