Pizzarelli appears to me to be almost like the Eric Johnson of jazz: a great guitarist who has absolutely no taste in music. Well, he thinks he has taste, but his taste is that of my dead grandma. (Actually, my dead grandma would probably be put off by at least some of this music, but you get the idea. If my grandma had been born a few years later, maybe everything on here would be up here alley.) It’s pretty horrible to hear someone so talented playing such shitty music.
Maybe he’s more like the jazz Jimmy Buffet: content to put out the same music for his fans endlessly, only Pizzarelli’s fans aren’t alcoholics.
Pizzarelli’s song selection varies from great to terrible, but the good songs he does cover are destroyed so that you don’t even want to listen to the original again.
Maybe he’s the jazz version of Tony Bennett – please don’t tell me Bennett is a jazz singer, if he ever was he isn’t now – as Pizzarelli exists to please an increasingly old and increasingly easily offended demographic who like to pretend that most of what has happened in music since 1950 hasn’t in fact occurred. It sure seems like Pizzarelli – despite his covers of ’70s music – would prefer to believe that post-bop, hard-bop, free and fusion never happened. Hell, some of the songs suggest he would prefer to believe that bop itself barely happened.
The one interesting thing here is the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross tribute. I have never heard LHR, and so have no idea if this is effective or derivative. I assume the latter though, just because of everything else here is clearly just aping styles he wishes were popular. (As an aside, why would a woman right lyrics about “grabbing a girl” for a dance? Presumably she has never overcome her love of swing.)
So this guy is a good-to-grate guitar player, an impressive singer, and full of musical ideas that should be interesting – his fusions of disparate musical ideas in the same song – but he just hates the essence of jazz. And that’s a shame, because he thinks he’s making it.