Gordon Gerrard  

John Pizzarelli

VSO Pops: Pizzarelli Plays Ellington

Date and Venue 26-27 April @ 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Gee whiz! What an entertainer! He jokes, he sings, plays a 7-string guitar and has a wonderful rapport with the audience. Son of legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli grew up surrounded by jazz and swing legends and became a legend-in-the-making himself, with unmatched class, talent and wit.

Smooth vocals and fantastic jazz guitar playing, John Pizzarelli delivers performances to rave reviews wherever he goes. His tribute to The Duke included such Ellington classics as "In a Mellow Tone", "East St. Louis Toodle-oo/Don’t Get Around Much Anymore", "Satin Doll", "C Jam Blues", "In My Solitude", "Just Squeeze Me", "Perdido", "I’m Beginning To See The Light", "All Too Soon", "Love Scene", "I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good", and "Cottontail/Rockin’ in Rhythm."

He even got the audience cacking up with his stories. In one, he recalls Billy Crystal telling him that during his Bar Mitzvah, he heard his aunt ask Louis Armstrong, "Don't you ever clear your throat before you start singing?"

This and other humorous anecdotes make Pizzarrelli what he is: an entertainer to the nth degree. The only thing I didn't like was making fun of his brother, Martin who plays bass in his ensemble. He not only "fouled him with a two-minute penalty" but got his pianist Lary Fuller and drummer Tony Tedesco play solos; Martin was left out. Where's the brotherly love here?

But all in all, it was a fabulous concert. Even the VSO members, dressed in jazzy white jackets, sang back-up to Pizzarrelli, and the audience gave a rounding applause to the VSO for this.

© 2013 Ed Farolan