Alexis Cole & Bucky Pizzarelli: A Beautiful Friendship
(Bucky Pizzarelli Bio)
2015: Venus Records, Inc.
Alexis Cole, Lead Vocals
Bucky Pizzarelli, Guitar
Frank Vignola, Guitar
Nicki Parrott, Bass & Vocals
Anat Cohen, Clarinet
Warren Vaché, Trumpet
Tetsuo Hara, Producer, Mixing, Mastering
Isaiah Abolin, Engineer
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 14, 2015
This CD is a spellbinding selection of fourteen beloved ballads, led by the star vocalist, Alexis Cole, and the master guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli. Both Ms. Cole and Mr. Pizzarelli appear on each track, with their guest ensemble showcased on individual tracks, to keep the unique harmonies highlighted. The guest artists exquisitely enhanced the album’s tonal gems, like Warren Vaché on trumpet, illuminating “If I Were a Bell”, Anat Cohen on clarinet, jazzing up “Just Friends”, Nicki Parrott on bass and vocals, harmonizing on “Stompin’ at the Savoy” and deepening the theme of “Honeysuckle Rose”, and Frank Vignola on second guitar, enhancing “East of the Sun”, among several duo-guitar highlights. Because Ms. Cole and Mr. Pizzarelli keep the tracks tonally uncluttered, with one or two guest artists on each, the listener can appreciate the clarity and quality of each tune’s stunning arrangement.
#4 – I Thought About You – Composed by J. Van Heusen / J. Mercer. This Van Heusen/Mercer ballad opens with lush, lilting vocals, poignantly rendered with persuasive yearning. The pure vocal-string arrangement spotlights Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, and Nicki Parrott’s combined, impressive talent. When Ms. Cole sings the title lyrics, she holds and expands the final note, as one guitar picks up the theme and expands it with textured tonality.
#7 – Mood Indigo – Composed by D. Ellington, B. Bigard / I. Mills. There’s nothing like a sensuous, muted trumpet to transport the listener to a midnight club aura. Here, Warren Vaché did just that, contrasting and harmonizing with Ms. Cole, as well as taking melancholy solos in enchanting interludes. I’ve never been so drawn to this ballad as I was here, in the moment.
#8 – Blue Moon - Moonglow – Composed by R. Rodgers / L. Hart - W. Hudson, I. Mills / E. DeLang. Ms. Parrott and Ms. Cole created an arrangement evocative of the Andrews Sisters, with the guitars combining as the third harmony, exuding 1930’s-1940’s billboard tunes. In the solos, Ms. Parrott has a retro, hushed vocal style, with Ms. Cole in more upbeat, sparkling lyrics, and, when harmonized, the effect is charming and charismatic.
#11 – Stompin’ at the Savoy – Composed by E. Sampson, B. Goodman, C. Webb – A. Razaf. This engaging tune includes a dazzling clarinet solo for Anat Cohen, who is also featured on three additional tracks. The tempo is upbeat swing, in true, danceable form, and, in between Ms. Cole’s ravishing vocals and the showcased, duo guitars, Ms. Cohen presents a wide tonal range in her scintillating solo.