"Play" is the key word to understanding Pizzarelli. In the first place, not only is Pizzarelli no mean vocalist, he's also a virtuoso jazz guitarist, and over the past thirty years, he's played as well as sung his way through a big chunk of the Great American Songbook, the mythical collection of the greatest American pop songs of the past century. Along the way, Pizzarelli's done discs of songs dedicated to particular singers or styles, including Dear Mr. Sinatra, his 2006 disc of tunes associated with the man from Hoboken, some of which he'll be doing here, along with tunes from his most recent disc dedicated to Duke Ellington.
"From Sinatra, we'll do 'How About You,' 'You Make Me Feel So Young,' and 'Ring-a-ding-ding,'" says Pizzarelli on the line from Manhattan, "and 'Satin Doll,' 'Don't Get Around Much Any More,' 'Mellow Tone,' and a bunch of others from Ellington." Of course, Pizzarelli won't be alone on stage. "My quartet's coming with me: my brother [Martin] on bass, Larry Fuller on piano, and Tony Tedesco on drums."
How would Pizzarelli compare himself to Sinatra as a singer? "I don't compare with Frank Sinatra as a singer," he answers immediately. "Nobody compares with Frank Sinatra. He could do anything; he could adjust his voice and his style to whatever song he was singing." How would Pizzarelli describe his voice? "It's more conversational, more like Nat King Cole. And with maturity"--he pauses to laugh and correct himself--"with age, it's gotten better. I have a better understanding of how to use it. When you're young, you have a tendency to take it for granted. Plus I understand the songs better now."