John Pizzarelli / George Shearing – The Rare Delight of You

John Pizzarelli / George ShearingJohn Pizzarelli / George Shearing
The Rare Delight of You

(Telarc – 2002)
by John Barrett

While he has a knack for picking great guitars (including Chuck Wayne and Wes Montgomery), George Shearing has rarely worked with a vocalist. In John Pizzarelli he has both: he handles the lyrics in his endearing whisper, with the Shearing Quintet behind him. “If Dreams Come True” has that vintage gleam, as vibes and piano walk together; George quotes “Wives and Lovers” in his brief solo. He then chases John’s guitar for 16 bars; the words are cool, sly, and delightful. (Not bad for a guy once called “a cross between Chet Baker and Alfalfa”!) “This Lady’s in Love with You” gives room to Reg Schwager, Shearing’s regular guitarist; John sings it calm as George quotes “Beginning to See the Light”. The vibes are glassy and glamorous – this is Ted Piltzecker, who always finds the right thing to say. His rolling figure opens “Lulu’s Back in Town”: John devours the lyric, making it sly and sincere. (And then he solos like Tiny Grimes!) Romance shimmers through “Something to Remember You By”, crashing like friendly waves. The voice is aching, the vibes are warm – and the feeling is strong.

“Lost April” is a duet: the piano treads softly as John gives a heartfelt hum. The chords are so lush it sounds like a choir; nothing is flashy, and everything is perfect. The same could be said for “The Rare Delight”, a tune composed by Pizzarelli. As George trickles in delicacy, John offers an elegant lyric, sung humbly, sung hopefully, sung well. It’s proudly old-fashioned, and this sound won’t go out of style.

Both guitars percolate through “Shine on Your Shoes”, skipping as gently as John’s voice. Schwager’s solo is on the blunt side, while Pizzarelli slithers, following the contours of his scat. He then says “Mister Shearing!” and George fills those eight bars with the grace you’d expect. “Indian Summer” is laid-back and lavish, with Shearing in classical form. (I mean that literally: his solo quotes “Lady Be Good” … and “Maid with the Flaxen Hair”!) Piltzecker is gorgeous on “Be Careful It’s My Heart”, more so on “September in the Rain” – the pace becomes glacial, and the delicacy grows. And Schwager is sweet on “Lucky to Be Me”, while the voice is lovably sincere. In the songs and in this performance, you hear the joy of a bygone age. This delight is always welcome, and we’re lucky to hear it in John Pizzarelli.