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When a young lion of jazz comes face to face with an old master, the results can range from the adversarial to the inspired. But when guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli went into the studio with veteran pianist George Shearing last fall, rivalry and one-upmanship were nowhere in the program. On the contrary, the sessions resonated with mutual respect and admiration.
The resulting album, The Rare Delight of You: John Pizzarelli with The George Shearing Quintet, tells the tale. The best of two generations come together on one record as Pizzarellia relative youngster among the jazz ranksteams up with Shearing in the tradition of the classic quintet and vocalist recordings pressed by the likes of Nat Cole, Nancy Wilson and the late Peggy Lee. Over the course of 15 tracks, Pizzarelli and Shearing lay down a mix of great standards (including "Be Careful, It's My Heart," "If Dreams Come True" and "Lost April") as well as a couple of memorable originals ("The Rare Delight of You" and "I Predict"), all in vibrant arrangements that are nostalgic and fresh at the same time.
Backing Pizzarelli and Shearing on The Rare Delight of You is an outstanding quintet: vibraphonist Ted Piltzecker, guitarist Reg Schwager, bassist Neil Swainson and drummer Dennis Mackrel. Together they create a laid back but consistent foundation for the album's two innovative frontmen.
"When one has the opportunity to work with a gifted singer and a fine musician, it's always a pleasure," says Shearing. "But when one comes upon a person who not only has these qualities but also is delightful to be around, has a disgustingly wonderful sense of humour, doesn't mind rehearsing, is a gentleman to the core, loves good food and great wine...you've met John Pizzarelli. I loved every minute of our time together."
"The music of George Shearing is everything that is right about the world," says Pizzarelli, who first heard Shearing's music through his father, veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. "It brings joy to all who hear it and turns the heads of all the musicians who are near it. George is always surprising, and frequently stunningly so."
Individually, Pizzarelli and Shearing have each made their distinctive mark on the jazz landscape of their day. Together, their combined brilliance transcends the generations. The Rare Delight of You is just what the title suggestsa unique collaboration that satisfies from the first note to the last.