Friday, June 29, 2007

Paula West and John Pizzarelli

Well, it did rain Wednesday night. Or at least it was threatening to do so around the time the two jazz artists listed above were to take the stage at Rockefeller Park downtown in the B.P.C. But luckily, nearby Stuyvesant High School's auditorium was employed as the rain location, just like last year's Maude Maggart River-to-River show. And as much fun as it is to see a free show outside, you're able to focus more on the music when you're inside. So what you lose in summer-evening ambience, you gain in appreciation for the artists on stage. I knew Pizzarelli as the son of Bucky and the husband of Jessica Molaskey, two great musicians in their own right, and mostly from hearing work by the three of them on the weekend afternoon shows hosted by Jonathan Schwartz on WNYC.

JP did not dissapoint. He does this pretty amazing scat singing while in tune with vamps on his guitar that's quite exhilarating to watch. I liked his solo-heavy version of "I Got Rhythm" as well as his quieter rendition of "God Only Knows" and an Italian bossa nova tune called "Estate." Plus, I enjoyed hearing for the first time "Manhattan" sung live.

The opener, Paula West, was quite a treat as well. You know it's a good show when you can honestly say you'd come back just to see the first performer on her own. She opened with the extremely catchy and wonderful-mood-settling Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Waters of March" ("A stick, a stone ..."), another tune I heard first on Schwartz's programs. And I also really loved her singing of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." Her band was led by pianist George Mesterhazy, who adds such a great kick and twinkle to a lot of her songs.

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