Bucky Pizzarelli with Ed Laub at St. Peter’s Church – New York, NY

No disrespect intended, but venerable guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli played to a packed House of God at a midtown gig and, sitting just below the altar, the performance was nothing short of Heavenly.

Spare and modern, St. Peter’s’ acoustics rival Carnegie Hall, and even Pizzarelli’s and Laub’s softest fingerings could be heard in the cheap pews. Aptly, the music-friendly church’s primary decorative feature is not stained glass, but a massive modern pipe organ.

The boys varied the set, alternating ballads and uptempo numbers—a few of which could only be described as breakneck. Slowed down to a crawl, the Cuban tango “Tres Palabras” became a delicate bedroom whisper but “Honeysuckle Rose” rolled off the two seven-strings like a freight train. In true jazz fashion, the duo shot musical winks at the audience, like breaking into the opening riff from “Smoke On The Water” during “Honeysuckle Rose.”

One sad note: with few exceptions, the audience was 40 and up. When I mentioned Paul McCartney to a gentleman who said he was a radio DJ, he gave me a blank look. “The Beatles?” I said. “Oh, I’ve heard of them,” he said, “but I don’t know their music. I’m a jazz guy.” By the same token the teens-to-40 set probably say the same thing about Bucky Pizzarelli (Who?), but they’re missing one of the great guitarists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Wise up, people.

—Suzanne Cadgene

Photo by Suzanne Cadgene.

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