Cook and Pizzarelli join forces

Friday August 3, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- When a Barbara Cook concert is announced it generally is accorded special event status in datebooks.

And when an appearance by John Pizzarelli is posted it stimulates a rush to the box office by his legion of fans.

So when a joint appearance by the two -- Barbara Cook and John Pizzarelli -- became a reality, phones began jingling, chiming or buzzing, and money changed hands quickly. The show, Saturday evening at 8, has been sold-out since early last week, a Mahaiwe spokesperson reported, and at last count, more than 30 names had appeared on a waiting list of procrastinating hopefuls.

"That's nice," said Cook last week when told that the concert is sold out. "I was there a little over a year ago, and it was a very nice audience and a wonderful little theater."

Chatting from her home in New York, Cook said she was unsure whose idea it was to pair her with Pizzarelli. "I was talking to John yesterday. I've never worked with him before, but I'm very pleased. I love his work and have wanted to play with him for a long time. This will be fun, and I'm really looking forward to it."

Cook indicated no plans for the two to sing together, but, along with her pianist and musical director, Ted Rosenthal, she will be using Pizzarelli's band, and he will be accompanying her on the guitar for a couple of numbers.

Cook's program is completely new, she said. "There will be things people wouldn't expect -- jazzy, bluesy things, a program we put together recently. I really enjoy a lot of this stuff," she said, reeling off a few titles: " ‘Lover Man,' ‘The Nearness of You,' ‘Making Whoopie' -- now that's fun -- ‘I Got Rhythm.' "

Pizzarelli, contacted in Los Angeles, where he was performing at the Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood, said he too was happy to be doing a joint concert with Cook, whom he described as a good friend.

The familiar ensemble will comprise his backup entour age: Larry Fuller, piano; Mar tin Pizzarelli, bass, and Tony Tedesco, drums, colleagues who have been with him for seven years.

The newest album, "Double Exposure," will be a focal point, according to Pizzarelli. "It's actually a departure," he said, "pop songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, seen through the prism of jazz of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

On the CD, Pizzarelli combines jazz and pop for some juxtapositions interesting to a guy raised both on the pop music of his time and the jazz espoused by his guitarist fath er, Bucky Pizzarelli.

"For example," he ex plained, "Lee Morgan's ‘The Sidewind er' is sent along with the Lennon and McCartney tune, ‘I Feel Fine.' "

Aside from the Beatles, Pizzarelli drew from the work of Joni Mitchell, Carol King, James Taylor, among others.

But he's also giving some attention to his other recent recordings, their composers and artists -- Ellington, Sinatra, and his big hero, Nat "King" Cole.

"He's the reason I do what I do," said Pizzarelli of Cole. "That voice captivated everybody, just really crossing all sorts of lines. He was a quietly amazing star."

On the home front, Piz zarelli's 14-year-old daughter, Madeleine, who occasionally has appeared on stage with him and his wife, the Broad way singer Jessica Molaskey, is preparing to enter La Guardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts.

"She's going in for voice -- she's just a musical powerhouse," he said.

Meanwhile, he and Molas key are out promoting "Dou ble Ex posure," with forthcoming tours to South Amer ica, and later 10 countries in Europe.

Cook is working on her memoirs, which she described as "tough going."

"Harper Collins came to me and asked me to do it about a year ago," she said, seemingly unconvinced in her customary self-deprecating modesty. "Well, you know people have talked to me about it. But who cares? Who wants to know? Still, people keep telling me they want to know. So let's hope."

Cook said she especially wants to write about her beginnings -- "to tell people where I'm coming from, tell people why I work the way I do. I'm really not a writer, but Charles Isherwood of The Times is working with me. I realized early on that I am going to have to write it again and put in my own voice."

The target date? "I'm sure they expect to publish next year after I'm 85. Eighty-five! How the hell did that happen?"

Due to the joint-concert nature of Saturday's show, Pizzarelli will not be using the customary "Radio Deluxe" set. "No couches," he promised. And probably no ap pearance by Bucky Pizza relli who, ac cording to John Pizza relli, is off somewhere on tour. "He's a moving target," he laughed.

And Molaskey, his reliable companion on stage as well at home?

"She may make the trip up," he replied, "just because she wants to see Barbara Cook."

Who: Barbara Cook
and John Pizzarelli

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St., Great Barrington

Tickets: $102, $75;
members $70

How: (413) 528-0100;;
at the box office

Note: This concert is sold out but a waiting list is under way


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