Review of John Pizzarelli’s ‘Double Exposure’ album

By Patrick Prince

John Pizzarelli
Double Exposure
Telarc
****

John Pizzarelli made his mark on contemporary jazz by experimenting with an eclectic palette. He has recorded more than 20 albums since his first album in 1990. His latest release, “Double Exposure,” contains a broad range of covers that showcases the artist’s appreciation for music.

Traditional jazz enthusiasts will enjoy the album “Double Exposure” for its admirable and entertaining musicianship. Pizzarelli’s voice is not as charming as Michael Buble’s or even Tony Bennett’s at 85. But it is on par, perhaps, with Chet Baker’s. And that’s not a bad thing.

The real winner here is Pizzarelli’s take on The Beatles’ “I Feel Fine.” It’s a track that Pizzarelli himself describes as Lennon-McCartney meets Lee Morgan. Fans at past gigs complimented the way Pizzarelli worked a “Sidewinder” feel into The Beatles song, so this spontaneous gem was later recorded in the studio. The result is masterful. (FYI: Pizzarelli turns up on McCartney’s latest release, “Kisses on the Bottom.”)

The instrumental “Elizabeth Reed” is a perfect score, as well. A tribute that mixes the greatness of the Allman Brothers’ classic and Wes Montgomery’s “Four By Six.” And “Traffic Jam” is a delight. James Taylor’s original comes off as a well-meaning song with a goofy playfulness. Pizzarrelli’s version, with the help of doubled vocals, makes the song playfully sinful.

There are a few paths better left untaken. “Alison” is a pleasant exercise in adulation but abandons what made the song work in the first place: the sharp-tongued cadence of Elvis Costello’s voice. And Seals and Crofts’ 1973 “Diamond Girl” remains a little too schmaltzy for this world — still — but is highlighted by a impressive trumpet solo by Tony Kadleck.

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