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An Evening with John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey

An Evening with John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey
Venetian Room, San Francisco, March 3, 2019
Bay Area Cabaret

Bay Area Cabaret continued its 15th season with the return of perennial favorites John Pizzarelli and his wife Jessica Molaskey, currently on tour with their current show American Stories. Backed by pianist Konrad Paszkudzki and bassist Mike Karn, the quartet breezed through an eclectic collection of tunes that featured Pizzarelli’s phenomenal jazz aesthetic as well as Molaskey’s experience as a fine cabaret vocalist.
Molaskey opened with Paul Simon’s “American Tune”, before the quartet launched into some 20th century money songs, Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s “Plenty of Money and You” and “We’re in the Money”. From money to trains, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer’s “I Thought About You” was mashed up with Sunny Skylar and Marty Block’s “Waitin’ For the Train to Come In”.

Pizzarelli is a wizard on his custom-made Bill Moll 7-string (low A) guitars, his fret-work a blur of moving fingers, pushing Mike and Konrad to match his frenetic pace. Examples of his handiwork were Johnny Mercers’s humorous 1937 football tale “Jamboree Jones” and Nat King Cole’s “Errand Boy for Rhythm”. Molaskey sang leads on Joni Mitchel’s “Help Me” and Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble”, adding her touch to modern American classics.

A sweet medley of Sondheim tunes, “Children and Art” from Sunday in the Park and “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods ended with a sampling from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” from South Pacific. The encore was the Joe Cosgriff novelty tune “I Like Jersey Best” in which Pizarelli mimics the sounds of various artists who might cover the song (Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Springsteen and The Eagles and Beach Boys). It’s a crowd pleaser that highlights his great onstage banter skills.

Pizzarelli and Molaskey are a rare bird indeed – one of the few performing couples imbued with the timing, symbiosis and experience that time together engenders.