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STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Old and New Standards from John Pizzarelli

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Once again, this week we're taking a look at some fresh video footage of a musician very familiar to St. Louis fans. That's guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, who's coming back at the end of the month to perform Wednesday, November 28 through Saturday, December 1 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Pizzarelli, the son of jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, has played St. Louis numerous times in recent years, appearing previously at the Sheldon Concert Hall and at the Touhill Performing Arts Center for the the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival in addition to several previous turns at the Bistro. During those appearances, he's demonstrated his continuing affinity for jazz standards, drawing on the Great American Songbook and the music of other great jazz composers, notably Duke Ellington.

In the first clip above, you can see and hear Pizzarelli doing a solo version of one of those standards, Gershwin's “I've Got Rhythm," in a clip recorded in July for Fretboard Journal magazine in Seattle.

Down below, the second clip shows Pizzarelli and guitarist Graham Dechter dueting on Ellington's “Satin Doll" in a performance at Jazzwoche Berghausen 2011. The third clip offers more Gershwin with “Lady Be Good," recorded by Pizzarelli with his combo last year at the Tbilisi Jazz Festival in Georgia.

Below that is another clip from the Jazzwoche Berghausen gig, which features Pizzarelli and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra doing a hybrid of two Ellington songs, adding the lyric and melody of “Don't Get Around Much Anymore" to the orchestral arrangement for “East St. Louis Toodle-oo."

That same of idea of combining two disparate songs into one arrangement is the notion behind Pizzarelli's most recent album Double Exposure, in which the work of pop songwriters such as Lennon and McCartney, Neil Young, James Taylor, Leiber and Stoller, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell is re-conceived using grooves, harmonies and arrangement ideas borrowed from the likes of Wes Montgomery, Billy Strayhorn, Thad Jones and John Coltrane.

The concept is clarified in the fifth clip, a promotional video for Double Exposure that includes a good chunk of Pizzarelli's blending of the Beatles' song “I Feel Fine" with Lee Morgan's classic Blue Note groove “The Sidewinder." There's more in the final clip, taken from his appearance in September on the Brazilian talk/variety program Todo Seu ("It's All Yours"), in which Pizzarelli does solo versions of “I Feel Fine" and the Lieber/Stoller tune “Ruby Baby."










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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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