Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli
Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli
From Louis Prima and Keely Smith to Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme to Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, there is a grand showbiz tradition of husband-and-wife performing teams. Among the most popular of these is the unbeatable duo of singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli and his gorgeous spouse, songbird Jessica Molaskey. These two have been performing and recording, both together and separately for years. Their new show at the Café Carlyle, which marks their debut at this prestigious venue, should be placed high on your must-see list.

Backed by a best-of-the-best trio, consisting of Larry Fuller on piano, Tony Tedesco on drums, and Martin Pizzarelli (John's brother) on bass, the stars of the show swept through a wonderfully entertaining program. Among its greatest moments were four genius mini-medleys of songs that no one else would be clever enough to think of putting together: the Sinatra standard "Ring-a-Ding-Ding" with "If I Were a Bell" (from Guys and Dolls); Kahn & Donaldson's "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby" with Bobby Troup's "Baby, Baby All the Time"; Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game" with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Waters of March"; and the 1950s standard "Cloudburst" with Stephen Sondheim's "Getting Married Today," in an arrangement by Jason Robert Brown.

The program was further highlighted by Pizzarelli's rendition of Sondheim's "Sorry/Grateful" (also from Company) and Molaskey's equally lovely "Small World" (from Gypsy). But the biggest hit of the evening for many audience members was Molaskey's brilliant rendition of "A Wonderful Guy" (from South Pacific) as it might be sung by newspaper columnist Maureen Dowd!

Pizzarelli and Molaskey are beloved not only for their top-drawer music making but also for their amusing, relaxed, unpretentious patter. For example, here's Molaskey's comment on why she has retained her maiden name: "I thought of changing it to Pizzarelli, but I thought that was a lateral move."

Also amusing -- not to mention deliciously dishy -- were the couple's comments on the "chemically challenged" star of the ill-fated Broadway musical Dream, in which Pizzarelli and Molaskey met. (The lady under discussion remained nameless, but I assume they were referring to Lesley Ann Warren.)

Remarking on the thrill of debuting at the Carlyle, Pizzarelli said: "The bar has been set very high by some people who are actually here tonight." (He was referring to Carlyle favorites Barbara Cook and Keely Smith, who were in attendance along with such stars as Tommy Tune and Michele Lee.) Not to worry! Pizzarelli, with his virtuoso guitar playing and charming vocal delivery, and Molaskey, with her sexy, uncommonly versatile voice, proved themselves worthy occupants of the room.