Married to music 

She’s flying in from Portland rehearsals with Dave Frischberg and he’s coming off a recording session, but when longtime couple Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli return home from their two concerts at the Fairmont’s Venetian Room this weekend, they will enjoy a rare treat.

“We’ll actually sit next to each other on the flight home from San Francisco,” says Pizzarelli, adding, “and without a child between us!”

Molaskey already had credits in shows like “Les Misérables” and “The Who’s Tommy” and Pizzarelli was a well-established guitarist and recording artist when they met on Broadway in the 1990s.

Both were in the cast of the Johnny Mercer tribute show “Dream” with the late Margaret Whiting, who knew right away something had sparked. “She said, ‘Jessica … every time you walk by that man your face gets all red!’ ”

Music abounds in the Pizzarelli family. John’s father Bucky is a noted jazz guitarist and brother Martin is a bassist. Between his own releases and collaborations with both his wife and his father, Pizzarelli has been a principal artist on 40 albums in the past 30 years. He’s credited as a contributor to more than 100 more.

“If John has a day off in New York City he goes and plays … on someone’s record,” Molaskey jokes.

Molaskey, who toured her first Broadway show here at the Curran Theatre, is particularly excited to be playing the Venetian Room. “I saw Oscar Peterson there back in the ’80s,” she says. “It was the first time I ever went to San Francisco.”

The lineup of their show here is still being decided. “Which one are we doing, John?” she asks politely. “Well, we can do whatever you feel like doing, Jess,” he replies obligingly. It’s not a lack of planning on their part, but an overabundance of material. “We have a bit of an embarrassment of riches these days because we haven’t played San Francisco in quite a while,” says Molaskey.

Like fine wine with good food, a recent trend for them has been pairings of songs that Molaskey says answer each other. “I’ll play ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’’ says Pizzarelli. “Then I’ll sing ‘Killing Me Softly,’ which is from the perspective of someone watching someone playing the guitar,” Molaskey finishes.

“We never script a show,” says Molaskey. “We both come from such different places in terms of approaching the music and we put it through our individual filters and hope that it comes out in a way that people like.” Adds Pizzarelli, “It’s really 52nd Street meets 42nd Street.”

About The Author

Robert Sokol

Robert Sokol

Robert Sokol is the editor at BAYSTAGES, the creative director at VIA MEDIA, and a lifelong arts supporter. Diva wrangler, cinefiler, and occasional saloon singer, he has been touching showbiz all his life. (So far no restraining orders have been issued!)... more
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