1. I Feel Fine/Sidewinder
2. Harvest Moon
3. Traffic Jam/The Kicker
4. Ruby Baby
6. Rosalinda's Eyes
7. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
8. Drunk on the Moon/Lush Life
9. Walk Between the Raindrops
10. Free Man in Paris
11. Take a Lot of Pictures
12. I Can Let Go Now
13. Diamond Girl
John Pizzarelli - Classical guitar, archtop 7-string guitar, vocals
Martin Pizzarelli - Bass
Tony Tedesco - Drums
Larry Fuller - Piano, electric piano
Larry Goldings - Organ
Aaron Weinstein - Violin
Tony Kadleck - Trumpet, flugelhorn
John Mosca - Trombone, euphonium
Kenny Berger - Baritone sax, bass clarinet
Andy Fusco - Alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet
Jessica Molaskey - Vocals (tracks 3, 9)
The album title refers to the fact that, on this CD, John Pizzarelli takes pop songs and rethinks them as jazz vehicles, sometimes even fusing two tunes together. For instance, the first track cleverly blends a Beatles song (I Feel Fine) with a jazz standard (Lee Morgan's Sidewinder). John Pizzarelli contributes a pleasing vocal, and pianist Larry Fuller supplies a shapely solo before John comes back in with some groovy scat.
The second track adds hints of Shine On, Harvest Moon (a 1908 song) to Neil Young's Harvest Moon - and Pizzarelli actually sounds rather like the laid-back Neil Young when he sings. James Taylor's Traffic Jam is united with Joe Henderson's The Kicker, where Jessica Molaskey (Mrs Pizzarelli) joins John in speedy vocalese … la Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Larry Fuller's piano solo is again noteworthy.
John sounds very like James Taylor in Alison even though it was composed by Elvis Costello. His understated vocals are seductive but sometimes so understated that the lyrics are inaudible. This tends to undermine Michael McDonald's beautiful I Can Let Go Now, where John's version can't match Michael's original.
Ruby Baby takes elements of two interpretations of the song - respectively by Dion & the Belmonts and Donald Fagen - and creates a truly swinging version, with Pizzarelli soloing on guitar. John's acoustic guitar also features in Billy Joel's Rosalinda's Eyes, which is a simple duet between vocals and guitar. And the guitar takes centre stage in a jazzed-up version of the Allman Brothers' In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, which also has worthy piano and drum solos. John's guitar here is reminiscent of Wes Montgomery, which is not surprising, as the arrangement feeds in references to Montgomery's Four on Six.
Tom Waits' Drunk on the Moon contains echoes of Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life, which are accented by Andy Fusco's tenor sax playing that melody. The track is slightly marred by some out-of-tune incidents. Donald Fagen's Walk Between the Raindrops is blended with Don Sebesky's Tiptoe, and Pizzarelli does some of his humming along with the guitar.
Free Man in Paris is a Joni Mitchell song which doesn't seem to be mingled with anything else. It's another guitar-and-vocals exercise by John with an appealing bossa rhythm. Larry Fuller's piano solo is short but very sweet. Take a Lot of Pictures is another standalone song, composed by Mr and Mrs Pizzarelli, with a shuffling beat and some more semi-audible lyrics. The final Diamond Girl mixes the Seals & Crofts song with Miles Davis's So What. Tony Kadleck adds an appropriately Milesish trumpet solo.
One of John Pizzarelli's aims with this album was to solve the question "How do we communicate jazz to the nonjazz listeners?" I'm afraid he is unlikely to succeed with today's generation of young people brought up on pop music consisting of interminable riffs. And the popular songs he has chosen are likely to appeal to people who grew up with these melodies and are now middle-aged or older (after all, Donald Fagen's Nightfly was 30 years ago, and Dion & the Belmonts were popular in the late 1950s). Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this album, for the ingenuity of the arrangements - fusing jazz with pop - and the brilliance of the musicianship. I also like the breadth of John's taste as illustrated by this disc.