Swinging Christmas

John Pizzarelli, who sits in with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra tonight, is a jazz guitarist with an impressive pedigree; he's the son of Bucky Pizzarelli, a gifted string-bender in his own right. That's not what pays the bills, though: Pizzarelli is also a vocalist, and he’ll join the CSO to croon swinging renditions of traditional Christmas favorites.

The repertoire is familiar territory for Pizzarelli. In 1996, he issued Let's Share Christmas, a CD highlighted by an instrumental version of "Sleigh Ride" that features his impeccably clean, lively playing. Still, vocals are the focus of that album and most of those that followed, including his most recent recording: Dear Mr. Sinatra, a 2006 CD issued by the Telarc International imprint. On that disc, Pizzarelli is accompanied by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, a thoroughly captivating ensemble led by bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, two longtime associates of Diane Krall. Nevertheless, the eleven numbers from Ol' Blue Eyes' canon, as delivered in Pizzarelli's light, pleasant but thoroughly unremarkable tenor, pale before the originals and aren't nearly as memorable as takes offered by more distinctive Sinatra acolytes over the years. Too bad the guitar solos he includes (such as the one squeezed into a few bars of "You Make Me Feel So Young") are so brief. After all, his fretwork really sings.

The CSO concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; tickets range from $15 to $69.50. For more information, call 303-623-7876 or surf to www.coloradosymphony.org.
Tue., Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m., 2007

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts