Love and Marriage and Songs

In the cabaret world, no singing husband-and-wife duo since the legendary Jackie Cain and Roy Kral has created more hip, enjoyable music than John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, now in their third consecutive season at the Café Carlyle. You never ever hear any crap, but you do hear astoundingly fresh and lilting combinations of surprises, both together (Jessica with a raised eyebrow on Bobby Troup’s “Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast,” and John crooning to his melting guitar chords on Irving Berlin’s “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing”) and solo (John re-creating the great Nat King Cole vocal on “Lost April”). They fold lyrics from one song into single bars from another, with the ease of whipping up egg whites with a portable KitchenAid. It must be a lot of fun hanging out around their house. You get the message when you tune in to the living-room setting on their weekly syndicated Radio Deluxe show, cherished in every major market in America except New York—which says volumes about the phony assumption that the Big Apple leads the nation in sophistication. When I was a guest on the show, they allowed me to bring along my own records, and I can’t remember a more enjoyable hour of fun. In this new show, which holds court at the Carlyle through Nov. 7, they offer an eclectic menu. With Larry Fuller on piano, Tony Tedesco on drums and John’s brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, they delve deep into the heart of Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hart, Kenny Rankin, Jimmy McHugh and even Joni Mitchell. John combines a handsome face with a funnybone-tickling personality, and his guitar is nonpareil. Well, almost. Have you ever heard Bucky Pizzarelli, his mentor and multitalented dad? Jessica is also an actress—a very good actress—who can investigate the lyrics (replete with verse) of Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost in His Arms” in a way that strokes your heart. Expect everything: from a big-band approximation of ’40s bebop on the nonsensical “Perdido” to a close-harmony tribute to Les Paul and Mary Ford’s best-selling treasure “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise” combined with little snippets of “Tiger Rag” (“Here, kitty kitty …”). It’s very unusual and an absolute godsend to find music, excitement, irreverent anecdotes and good taste all in one club act. But the Pizzarellis prove, if proof was ever needed, the value of togetherness.