All in the (Pizzarelli) Family
John Pizzarelli and his folks return to Feinstein's at the Regency.
In John Pizzarelli's house there must be a pillow with the following embroidered motto: "The family that plays together stays together." The Pizzarelli Family, meaning John, his brother Martin (bass), his father Bucky (guitar), John's wife Jessica Molaskey (vocals), and Ray Kennedy, their "adopted" first cousin (pianist), are all back at Feinstein's at the Regency doing what they do best--entertaining. And they do it at a level of musicianship that few ever achieve.
They're billing themselves these days as "The First Family of Cool." With a playful smile (his trademark), John refers to his famous guitarist dad as "The First Father of Cool." Noting the over-air-conditioned room, Jessica quipped that they were actually "The First Family of Cold." Not to worry; this talented group turned the heat up plenty.
Much of the music in their show offers the kind of flair we've come to expect from a Pizzarelli act. There's a laid back, almost effortless style that comes up against the complicated, showy riffs in songs like "Oh, How My Heart Beats for You" (by John Pizzarelli) and "Lulu's Back in Town" (Warren/Dubin). And take a sip of their tart "Lemon Twist" (Bobby Troup). These cats know how to play, which is very much the point of "All the Cats Join In" performed by Jessica (Wilder/Gilbert/Sauter/with additional verses by Molaskey) and the band. Ray Kennedy is always given the spotlight to perform a solo and, this year, he put together something called "The Gospel Truth." The underlying melodic theme has a sort of moral weight while his embellishments adorn the piece with an elegant beauty. Listening to Ray Kennedy play is, in fact, a religious experience.