11 AUG 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli has recorded an album of some of Broadway legend Richard Rogers' best-known work. On his Telarc release With A Song In My Heart, Pizzarelli displays a knack for updating classic material while respecting its essence.
Rodgers, composer of some of Broadway's best-loved musicals, is enjoying a bit of a revival. South Pacific, an extraordinary success in its original 1949-54 run, is a smash at Lincoln Center. Pal Joey is scheduled to return to Broadway for a third time. PBS has profiled him in its American Masters series. Having published over 900 songs and 40 Broadway musicals before his death in 1979, Rogers is one of the pillars of what is known as the American Songbook -- standards from musical theatre and Tin Pan Alley released in the early- to mid-20th century.
For Pizzarelli, arranger Don Sebesky adds just the right amount of horns to the sparse, sensitive arrangements, enhancing without overpowering the lyric and melody. Pizzarelli's soft tenor is reminiscent of Chet Baker's, who is also brought to mind with a take of one of his most well-known vocal pieces, "She Was Too Good To Me," as well as "Spring Is Here," which Sebesky had previously arranged for Baker. "Happy Talk" takes on even more of a tropical flavor when presented as a light-hearted Bossa Nova with guest pianist César Camargo.
This collection is destined to bring pleasure to listeners already familiar with Rodgers while introducing him to a new audience, insuring that the music of the original cock-eyed optimist stays younger than springtime.