June 2, 2023

John Pizzarelli's new album takes listeners to Broadway and the movies


John Pizzarelli’s new album is called "Stage and Screen," and delves into the music of Broadway and the movies. - Courtesy of John Pizzarelli.

John Pizzarelli’s new album is called "Stage and Screen," and delves into the music of Broadway and the movies.

Courtesy of John Pizzarelli.

John Pizzarelli’s career started alongside one of the country’s best known jazz musicians, who also just happened to be his father. But for decades now, Pizzarelli has been blazing his own musical trail with an updated, yet old-school sound.

Pizzarelli has been making music professionally for more than 40 years. The jazz guitarist is the son of another legendary guitar player, the late Bucky Pizzarelli, and John's new album delves into the music of Broadway and the movies. The album is called "Stage and Screen," and WFYI Morning Edition host Ray Steele spoke to Pizzarelli ahead of his performance at the Jazz Kitchen in Indy on Saturday, June 10.

PIZZARELLI: It's a pleasure to be with you, Mr. Steele. And looking forward to coming to Indianapolis.

STEELE: You had music all around you growing up, obviously, between your father, your mother, who was Broadway performer. How did you end up gravitating toward the style of music, jazz standards, rather than doing something else with your life? Why did you choose to go in that direction with your own playing?

PIZZARELLI: I actually was writing a lot of pop songs from like my teens late teens into my 20s, and I had a little I had a number of, you know, pop/rock and roll bands. I loved singer songwriters like Jackson Browne and James Taylor and Michael McDonald and Peter Frampton, and those kinds of groups ... Billy Joel. Then on the weekend, sometimes ... well all through the 80s literally for 10 years, I would work with my father. And my father said I was the only guy who played jazz to support his rock 'n' roll habit. You know, I discovered Nat King Cole when I was 20 ... the Nat King Cole Trio records and started to learn those songs. And that was a great introduction to material that I could sing.

STEELE: Your latest album is called "Stage and Screen;" it's music of the movies and the stage, all remarkable songs, most of which people will recognize I would imagine – "Tea for Two," "Just In Time." But you have one that I wanted to see how this got on the album because it's – I don't want to say it's obscure, but it does stand out to me. And that's "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup." I love this song and always have, but it's not one that perhaps people think about immediately. How did "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup" end up on this album?

PIZZARELLI: When I was … I guess either must have been 28, 29 or 30-years-old, my friend had an extra ticket to see "The World Goes 'Round," I think it was called. It was a review of songs by Kander and Ebb. They're the guys who wrote "New York, New York." And I always remembered the coffee song there was like this coffee song. There's a coffee song in there. And then I somehow rediscovered it with Jessica – my wife, Jessica Molaskey – and I were doing a show, and I was like that coffee song, we should try and learn that coffee song. I wanted to get a couple of things that were off the beaten track and it just lays perfectly for the group. So that's how "Coffee In a Cardboard Cup" made it. It was just from going to a show some 30 years ago and always remembering that song.

John Pizzarelli's new album is called "Stage and Screen," and Pizzarelli will be appearing at the Jazz Kitchen in Indy on Saturday, June 10. Information is available at TheJazzKitchen.com

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