Note: Bucky Pizzarelli plays Jazz Alley again on Wednesday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $21.50.
MP3: Download Pizzarelli's Tuesday night performance of "Stompin' at the Savoy."
At 82, John "Bucky" Pizzarelli still greets every morning by running through a batch of songs on his seven-string guitar. But not this morning. But we'll give him a pass, considering he was up before 5 a.m. for a flight out of Newark, headed for a relatively last-minute, two-night stint at Jazz Alley that concludes Wednesday night.
The local headlining gig is something of a rarity for Pizzarelli, whose recent visits to Seattle have most often been at the side of his son, the guitarist/crooner John Pizzarelli, filling Benaroya Hall and week-long residencies at the Alley. While his son's set is rife with showmanship and Beatles covers, Pizzarelli's set last night was an intimate affair that felt more like eavesdropping on one of his early morning jam sessions.
As he ran through selections from the books of swing greats like Benny Goodman, he wasn't merely playing covers. He's the era's standard torchbearer, sans nostalgia. These are artists with which he cut his teeth. Now, more than 60 years after he began his career with the Vaughn Monroe band (1943), he's showing no signs of growing tired of the material or the routine of performing.
In fact, as he played rhythm during bassist Chuck Deardorf's solo, Pizzarelli locked eyes with the audience, grinning as if there was no place he'd rather be. My date looked over our martinis to say, "He's so happy!" Indeed, those eyes, and eyebrows, don't lie.