My View: John Pizzarelli Seriously Makes Great Music Fun At Birdland
Acclaimed guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli is celebrating the 40th anniversary of his debut album with a collection of classic songs from Broadway and Hollywood
Stage & Screen, with a new album via Palmetto Records, it features songs spanning nearly a century, given new life by Pizzarelli, bassist Mike Karn and pianist Isaiah J. Thompson. Pizzarelli is celebrating with performances at Birdland this week.
John Pizzarelli may play seriously great music but he sure makes the evening fun as you can tell from my photos of last night’s performance.
World-renowned guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli has dedicated many of his albums to the great songwriters and performers who have helped to establish the Great American Songbook and the pop music canon: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Richard Rodgers, and Duke Ellington, to name a few. With his new album, Pizzarelli and his remarkable new trio cast a wider net to explore other sources for the most immortal songs of the past century: the Broadway stage and the silver screen.
The album just released via Palmetto Records, Pizzarelli’s Stage & Screen finds inspiration in classic songs from Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. The cleverly chosen repertoire spans nearly nine decades, starting with a pair of songs from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette (“I Want To Be Happy” and “Tea For Two”) and leading into the 21st century with “I Love Betsy” from Jason Robert Brown’s “Honeymoon in Vegas” – a stage musical based on the 1992 film. In between there are pieces by such iconic songwriters and composers as Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, Sammy Cahn, and Jule Styne, and songs immortalized in cinema favorites like Casablanca.
Stage & Screen also celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pizzarelli’s 1983 debut recording, I’m Hip (Please Don’t Tell My Father). Over the ensuing four decades he’s become one of the most acclaimed interpreters of classic and modern song and an influential advocate for the continuing evolution of the standards songbook. His albums have delved into that rich pool of song from a variety of angles, Stage & Screen providing an inviting new twist.
“In thinking about some of the songs that I really love to play, it struck me how many of them come from either a Broadway show or from a movie,” Pizzarelli explains. “An idea like Stage & Screen frees me to explore a wide range of songwriters and eras, and it continues to offer a wealth of new possibilities.”
He’s joined for the occasion by his new trio featuring bassist Mike Karn and pianist Isaiah J. Thompson, two tremendous talents with whom Pizzarelli quickly discovered a scintillating chemistry, even with a two-year disruption to their touring schedule. While Karn has been working with Pizzarelli for the last seven years, Thompson joined the trio only three years ago, in late December 2019. A few months later his tenure was interrupted by the pandemic, only for the band to pick up again in August 2021. Stage & Screen was recorded a few short months later, but the band sounds like it’s logged years on the road.
Cabaret, Talks and Concerts For June
The summer nights bring excitement to the clubs and cabarets. Here are picks for June.
92 Street Y: 1395 Lexington Ave. 6/1: Music Icons: Graham Nash in Conversation with Anthony DeCurtis; 6/2 and 4: California Dreamin’: Jessica Vosk Sings the Songwriters of Laurel Canyon; 6/12: A New York Evening Celebrating Peggy Lee and 6/16: Focus Features’ Asteroid City: Bryan Cranston in Conversation with MTV’s Josh Horowitz.
Birdland Jazz: 315 West 44 St. Every Monday at 9:30pm Jim Caruso’s Cast Party; Every Tuesday at 8:30pm The Lineup with Susie Mosher; Every Saturday at 7pm Eric Comstock with Sean Smith (Bass) & special guest Barbara Fasano (Voice); 6/5, 12 and 26: Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks in the Theater;Billy Stritch & Gabrielle Stravelli “Mel and Ella Swing!”; 6/6 – 10: Stacey Kent; 6/8: Phillip Officer: “Second Time Around” in the Theater; 6/12: The Brat Pack and 6/19: Natalie Douglas: “Freedom Songs: Juneteenth Jubilee”
Cafe Carlyle: 35 E 76th St. until 6-10: Sutton Foster; 6/13 – 17: Mira Sorvino and 6/20 – 24 Megan Hilty.
Carnegie Hall: 881 7th Ave at 57th St.
Chelsea Table + Stage: Hilton Fashion District Hotel, 152 W 26th St. 6/4: Reeve Carney; 6/7: Nicolas King; 6/26: Samantha Pauly and 6/27: Marieann Meringolo.
Don’t Tell Mama: 343 W. 46 St. 6/3: Tim Di Pasqua and 6/16: Tanya Moberly
Dizzys Club Coca Cola: Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street. 6/11: Songbook Sundays Fats Waller
The DJango: 2 Avenue of the Americas. 6/9: Jason Tiemann Quartet
54 Below: 254 West 54 St. 6/1 -4: Clint Holmes: Between the Moon and New York City- The Songs of Peter Allen, feat. Nikki Renée Daniels!; 6/5: Charles Strouse’s 95th Birthday Show! Feat. Stephen Schwartz & more; 6/6: Hands on a Hardbody 10th Anniversary Reunion Concert; 6/8 and 10: Jenn Colella: Out and Proud; 6/12, 14 – 17: Joe Iconis & Family, feat. Lauren Marcus & more!; 6/13:Jeff Harnar & Alex Rybeck: Our 40th Anniversary Songbook; 6/21 – 25: Shaun Cassidy: The Magic of a Midnight Skyand 6/29 – 7/1: Amber Gray
Sony Hall: 235 W. 46th St. 6/9: The Manhattan Transfer 50th Anniversary & Final World Tour w/ Special Guest The Diva Jazz Orchestra; 6/23 and 24: Sergio Mendes and 6/26: Broadway Sings Lady Gaga
The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd Street. 6/3: Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers; 6/6: PAGEBOY with Elliot Page and 6/12: Irish Repertory Theatre Gala 2023 | All My Loving The Lyrics Of Paul McCartney
Broadway’s Samantha Pauly and Reeve Carney Come To Chelsea Table and Stage
On May 29th catch Samantha Pauly for Memorial Day. Best known for originating the role of Katherine Howard in Broadway’s smash hit SIX the Musical, and her captivating performance as Eva Peron in Jamie Lloyd’s critically acclaimed revival of Evita on London’s West End, Samantha Pauly has carefully crafted an evening that reflects the last few years of her life. Join this Grammy nominee and Drama Desk Award winner as she revisits some career highlights, Broadway classics, pop/rock favorites, and all the fun stuff in between.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and actor Reeve Carneyreturns to Chelsea Table + Stage June 4th to perform a night of music honoring the artistry of the legendary rock n’ roll supergroup Led Zeppelin. Carney is best known for his portrayal of Dorian Grayin on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, Riff Raff in Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show Reimagining, as well as originating the role of Peter Parker in Julie Taymor/U2’s Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark. He is currently starring in the Broadway blockbuster, Hadestown. Reeve Carney delivers a one-man-show cabaret that feels more like an invitation-only after-party than a traditional concert performance. Don’t miss this special performance from one of Broadway’s leading actors!
My View: It’s Richard Jay-Alexander’s Birthday!
If there’s anyone who deserves to be featured in TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES, on this particular day, May 24, it would be this guy, Richard Jay-Alexander. Born in 1953, today he turns 70 years old, here in New York City. He has walked these city streets more than most, as he pursued and has enjoyed a 49 year career, working on Broadway, in most theaters, clubs and majestic musical institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and The MET. He’s touched many, many lives and has a passion for this business that continues to burn and just this past Sunday, he helmed a thrilling evening, celebrating BroadwayWorld.com‘s 20th Anniversary, at midtown’s historic Sony Hall. On the eve of his birthday, he attended his favorite Tuesday night happening, Susie Mosher’s The LINEUP at Birdland Theatre, and treated the audience to a couple stories, observations on this important birthday and then, with Billy Stritch at the piano, John Miller on Bass and Clint De Canon on drums, performed a moving and heartfelt (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Richard clearly has a gift and a passion for the stage and for music and we are all the better for it, on the receiving end.
Happy Birthday, Young Man! Here’s to many more.
My View: A Glamorous Celebrity Filled Night With Lorna Dallas at The Laurie Beechman Theatre
It was a celebrity filled audience last night and the glamor of Manhattan Cabaret nightlife was in abundance for Lorna Dallas and her show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre titled “Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days
Ms. Dallas returned to New York City with a wonderful new show. This was Ms. Dallas’ first appearance in this town since she performed at the Bistro awards prior to the lockdown of 2020. The three years respite has done nothing to dim the luster of Ms Dallas’ exceptional instrument. She stayed in fine voice all evening long. But she is more than just an excellent vocalist. She is also a compelling actress. Her show, skillfully crafted by director Barry Kleinbort, and sensitively accompanied by one of this city’s best musical directors, Christopher Denny, was a joy from start to finish. The star studded audience at the Laurie Beechman theater responded heartily to every one of Lorna’s numbers. Evening high points ran the gamut, from standards like “I Have Dreamed,” to “When the Sun Comes Out;” from an hilarious “By Strauss” by the Gershwin’s to a dramatic “Silent Spring” by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. She also premiered a new song written especially for her by Ann Hampton Callaway and Amanda McBroom, “In My Dreams,” which wowed the savvy New York crowd. Hopefully, Lorna Dallas will return to these shores on a more regular basis. Three years is too long a wait for this powerful soprano’s next appearance..
My View: David Yazbek and Norbert Leo Butz at 54 Below
Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award winning composer/writer/musician David Yazbek and his band were on the stage of 54 Below last night playing some of his new songs from an upcoming album. They also played some great music from the Yazbek songbook and from his Broadway musicals.
In addition to being an award winning composer and lyricist David Yazbek is a formidable pianist possessing a fearless technique generating an extraordinary combination of intoxicating melodious dissonance. . A highlight of the evening for me was when he displayed his unique harmonic and rhythmic pianistic concepts on the Great American Songbook Standard “Over The Rainbow”. Norbert Leo Butz also starred in the the 54 evening titled “David Yazbek and The Bludgeoneers” and he brought the house to it’s feet with the “Dirty Rotten Medley”
The Band: Javier Diaz (Percussion), Tony Orbach (Sax), Sam Sadigursky (Clarinet), Dean Sharenow (Drums), Chris Tordini (Bass), Paul Vercesi (Sax)
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