John Pizzarelli: After You’ve Gone

6 Apr

Birthday greetings to singer/guitarist/songwriter John Pizzarelli, who celebrates No. 51 today.

If you listen to Pizzarelli and hear Nat King Cole, it’s not your ears. It’s what you should hear. Pizzarelli’s website says Cole is his hero, and the comparison is “the highest of compliments.”

“I’ve always said in my concerts that Nat ‘King’ Cole is why I do what I do,” Pizzarelli says on JohnPizzarelli.com “(But) we aren’t trying to copy him . . .  I’ve always said we’re an extension, a 21st century version of what that group was.”

Pizzarelli albums have included tributes to the Beatles, Duke Ellington, song writer Richard Rodgers, Frank Sinatra and Cole, of course. He’s recorded more than 20 as a leader — no surprise given that his father, Bucky Pizzarelli — yes, they’ve played together — is also a well-known and regarded guitarist who helped teach John at a young age.

There is seemingly nothing Pizzarelli can’t cover and sound original, but he also pens his own material, too. And no one has more sheer fun — his solos are as full of expression as they are of sound, and he often sings and/or plays with a smile, which is how his audience receives him.

Here’s hoping Pizzarelli gets the one gift for his birthday he has yet to receive in 2011 — a win from his favorite baseball team, the Red Sox.

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