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Bucky Pizzarelli & Frank Vignola - Moonglow Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 July 2005

Bucky Pizzarelli & Frank Vignola

format: 16-bit stereo CD
label: The Music Force
release year: 2005
performance: 8
sound: 8
reviewed by: Dan Macintosh

Image Dinner music gets a bad rap. When you take a moment to consider evening meal soundtracks, you probably conjure up auditory images of bland sounds that quietly arrive and depart – much like the succulent scents of various dishes – yet never quite register in the old memory bank. But because a musical vibe just happens to go well with nightfall’s tastes and aromas doesn’t automatically make it a bad thing. Fine wine doesn’t get knocked whenever it compliments a meal. In fact, such beverages actually gain respect for how they enhance the dining experience. So why doesn’t music get these same props? Methinks there is a double standard at play here.
Let’s begin undoing this injustice with a few thoughts about Bucky Pizzarelli and Frank Vignola. These two fine acoustic jazz guitarists have just released their excellent Moonglow CD, which goes just as well with beef as it does with fish. Moonglow is a 16-song set of jazz and pop standards, which is comforting on the ears and easy to digest. Nothing here requires concentrated mastication; it all flows together seamlessly in one continuous, beatific aural stream.

Nevertheless, true jazz connoisseurs will likely pick up on the many subtle flavors. Listen closely, and you can hear how notes are carefully bent during “P.S. I Love You,” or just let yourself bask in how “I’m Confessin’” and “Deep Purple” swing easily without ever jerking the listener. “Whispering” features some relatively aggressive rhythmic strumming, but this is only done in order to keep the tempo clicking along. “Moonglow” opens with an amazing string-of-notes solo, but this moment of flash is a rarity; there is very little showing off going on around here.

Producer Joel Dorn utilizes his liner note space to praise a dish of homemade meatballs that Pizzarelli brought to this recording session. So this whole symbiotic relationship between music and meals was established from the very beginning of the project. If you’re driving a gas-guzzling 4x4, while nearly swallowing your double quarter-pounder with cheese whole, AC/DC’s Back in Black is your recommended soundtrack. But for those evenings when the moon is shining in on your romantic dinner, this new Bucky Pizzarelli and Frank Vignola offering hits the spot every time.

You get the impression that producer Dorn spent more time digging into his plate of meatballs than monkey-ing with this recording, which was the right move – both for his appetite and his studio task. With two master guitarists such as these, you should capture them doing what they do best and refrain from adding too many embellishments. This is quiet music, but the recording of it so spot-on clear, you feel like these two gentlemen are serenading you right at your dinner table.

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