Jazz perfect for chilling out

JAZZ

FOR CENTENNIAL REASONS: 100 YEAR SALUTE TO NAT KING COLE

John Pizzarelli Trio

Ghostlight Deluxe

4 stars

This is the third album jazz guitarist/ vocalist John Pizzarelli has dedicated to the master crooner Nat King Cole.

The line-up on his ensemble has changed from his career-defining 1994 Dear Mr Cole album. But there is no question that Pizzarelli's singing has matured in the interim.

His reedy tenor is no match for Cole's effortlessly silky timbre, but Pizzarelli makes up for it with snazzy guitar and canny singing.

The opener, Straighten Up And Fly Right, which he has recorded multiple times, is at a slower-than-expected tempo. Pizzarelli's lucid plucking is backed by Mike Karn's bouncy basslines and Konrad Paskudzki's clean piano accompaniment for a swingy but not frenetic take on the Cole classic.

Other Cole classics get equally charming renditions. Standout tracks include the chirpy It's Only A Paper Moon and the dancy Hit That Jive, Jack. But there are a couple of quirky rarities that give the familiar programme an unexpected goose: I'm Such A Hungry Man and Save The Bones For Henry Jones.

And to keep things perking a little, there are two original tunes.

Pizzarelli teams up with wife, singer Jessica Molaskey, to write A Hundred Years From Now, a charming tune that pilfers from the jazz canon for mash-up quotes for some classic jazz balladry.

And Nat King Cool is a swinging instrumental that offers a bright tribute to Cole.

This album is a keeper to put on repeat mode for chillout evenings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2019, with the headline 'Jazz perfect for chilling out'. Print Edition | Subscribe