Sunday, March 27, 2016

concert review - JOHN PIZZARELLI & JESSICA MOLASKEY - Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts - March 19, 2016

John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey
 "The musical intersection where jazz, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook meet is a most happy one under the assured musicianship of John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey. The married duo performed at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts last weekend in a simply sublime evening of Pizzarelli's exceptionally skilled guitar playing and Molaskey's solid vocals. Backed by an outstanding jazz trio...Pizzarelli and Molaskey delivered a two-hour concert of varied songs, including several standards, some pop hits by Paul Simon and Paul McCartney, and several showtunes by Stephen Sondheim. While Pizzarelli's intricate guitar playing takes the focus on many of the songs it is Molaskey's reflective vocals that add depth and layers, and even play off of and echo John's exceptional guitar skills. Pizzarelli and Molaskey are about to celebrate their 20th anniversary together...Many of the songs in their concert commented on relationships, and the playfulness and self-deprecating humor of the couple was a natural fit for many of these songs. ..The biting yet humorous cynicism of Sondheim's "The Little Things You Do Together" from Company served as a playful commentary between the couple. His "Children and Art" from Sunday in the Park with George and "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods served as a reminder of the importance of instilling both art and children with the right level of responsibility, since they are what artists and parents leave behind when they are gone....Some standards were also featured in the evening, including a lovely pairing of "You Made Me Love You" and "It Had to Be You." ...Three songs from decades ago that focus on death, dread, and doom (Paul Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble" from his Graceland album along with his "Late Great Johnny Ace" and Billy Joel's "Summer, Highland Falls") were combined and turned into a contemporary view of the world...But it was a song from over seventy years ago that served as the highlight of the evening. John sang Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" from South Pacific with only his own guitar accompanying him in a folksy version of the song. It was a stirring delivery that served as a reminder of how we all need to make our own decisions about our fellow human beings and not listen to our parents or our politicians and their potentially racist views. Jessica commented that she asked John to sing it that night. The fact that the concert happened just hours after Donald Trump's speech less than 20 miles away did not go unnoticed."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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