John Pizzarelli, who has already released tribute albums honoring Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and The Beatles, adds to the series with his new John Pizzarelli Salutes Johnny Mercer: Live at Birdland, and focuses on Mercer songs on his hour-long “American Songbook at NJPAC” show, which airs tonight at 8 on NJTV (and can also be seen March 28 at 1 p.m. on Channel 13).
“He’s so responsible for so many great things in my life,” says Pizzarelli of Mercer in the special, which was taped before a live audience at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater in September. “I got to do a Broadway show (1997’s ‘Dream’) that featured Johnny Mercer lyrics and music. I met my wife, Jessica Molaskey, on that show.”
He also talks about getting to know Rosemary Clooney and Margaret Whiting through Mercer’s music, before saying that the next song he sings, “Too Marvelous for Words,” “sort of expresses everything” (he feels about Mercer).
Other songs that can be heard on both the TV showand the new album include “Accentuate the Positive,” “I Got Out of Bed on the Right Side,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “Moon River,” “Dearly Beloved,” “Goody Goody” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”
The second season of the “American Songbook at NJPAC” series began last week, with duets by Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana, and continues over the next three weeks with the following shows:
Feb. 11: Nellie McKay. (April 4 on Channel 13.)
Feb. 18: Maureen McGovern. (April 11 on Channel 13.)
Feb. 25: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, with vocalists Marilyn Maye, Micailah Lockhart, Alex Stone and Annie Golden. (April 18 on Channel 13.)