Remember that one?

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Unruly Tulips. Photo: JH.

Thursday, April 30, 2020. Cold, grey day in New York with temps in the high-40s/low-50s. A day like all days, (lately) except You Are There. 

Remember that one? 6:30 Sunday nights before 60 Minutes. You have to be old enough. Even very old to some. Walter Cronkite was the host, half hour live drama time in history of the world. This was before everything was taped. So, it was live from the studio sound stage. I was a kid. It was really interesting, probably inaccurate and propagandistic at times. But it was an exciting introduction to the ways of men and mice.

Well, here we are, There. Men and Mice. Yesterday I kept wondering what was taking so long to get to Friday. That was a first. Usually it’s just “mistaking” the day. This time it was the week. It must be funny. Or else!

Apropos of nothing, which I get plenty of. I got an email probably a press release with the following information and picture of a wedding cake. I get dozens of these every day. Promos. That, and politicians of both parties and all over the country soliciting for five bucks or anything you can spare, brother. I just keep deleting. 

This one caught my eye, because of the numbers. It was otherwise about something of no personal interest to me. This was the message:

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas spent approximately $18,700. on their wedding cake – that’s more than double the price Kim Kardashian and Kanye West for for theirs! Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s non-comformist wedding cake cost and estimated $3,500.  From Love Island to the altar, Olivia Buckland and Alex Bowen’s wedding cake cost approximately $4,400.

Talk of wedding cakes or almost anything else right now, seems irrelevant. I’ve gone to the dogs, literally.

On the first day of this month now ending Bucky Pizzarelli, a seven-string guitarist, perhaps the most distinguished of his generation, died at age 94 at his home in New Jersey. Bucky was much sought after for recording sessions in the 1950s and ’60s. His work can be heard on hundreds of records in various genres, many often uncredited. He also toured with Benny Goodman and was a longtime member of the Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” orchestra. When Carson moved the show to the West Coast, Bucky decided to stay here, where according to the New York Times, he “became a mainstay of the New York Jazz scene, often playing in concert with his son John Pizzarelli.

More than three years ago he had suffered a stroke and it was thought that he would never be playing again. He recovered, however, and two years ago, on a Tuesday evening in April, a friend of mine asked me to join her at Birdland to hear the John Pizzarelli trio – Guitar/Vocal, Piano and Bass. I’m not a jazz aficionado although I do often play some of the classic jazz albums like Fats, Art Tatum, Louis Armstrong, Garner, Barbara Carroll, Bobby Short. And I do love music, so I love jazz when it’s in front of me. I had seen John and his wife Jessica Molaskey perform at Café Carlyle. My friend told me that on this night, Bucky might make an appearance.

John and Bucky Pizzarelli at Birdland.

There were two sets. Before the show, I was introduced to the pianist Konrad Paszkudzki (Pash-kud-ski ), who grew up in Perth, Australia. Konrad, when asked, talked about his talent as if it were just something he always liked to do. He started with lessons at eight. I think jazz musicians are just born that way. 

I’d never seen Bucky perform in person. The only thing I knew about him when he came on stage was that he was considered a Master of his art. He was assisted up to the platform where he took a comfortable seat and was handed his guitar. As a man his age who had recovered from an affliction like that you know to appreciate anything they can do, and you also know they will their best.

What followed with son John leading the way, as well as accompanied by Konrad and Mike Karn on bass was pure pleasure on several levels: the room, the music and the players. The Father-Son duo were arresting. Bucky wore the distinction of a distinguished performer — so at ease with his guitar, a man who’d been playing for getting close to a century. It was just part of him. And his brilliantly talented son, who never lost a moment of his father’s seniority and genius, is an ace conductor and follower.

Their affection of son and father for each other underlined their playing as their music fills the room. You didn’t have to be a jazz aficionado or anything else to get their bountiful personalities. I stole a brief clip of them riffing on … Listening, you’re captivated: this is life, this is beauty, this is the best of us.

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