Orchestra Hall was packed for the February 13 Valentine’s Day celebration performed by jazz vocalist/guitarist John Pizzarelli and his trio in collaboration with the Minnesota Orchestra. There was a lot of red in the audience and a few smooches between elegantly dressed dates. The Valentine’s show featured pop and jazz songs with full orchestra accompaniment. Conductor Courtney Lewis kept pace with the upbeat stylings of Pizzarelli and provided a perfect instrumental backdrop to the performance.
Pizzarelli is a natural entertainer, relating directly to the audience and telling humorous, personal tidbits about his life—like the story about the time he met Frank Sinatra on tour in Berlin, or the fact that his own wedding song was “I Got Rhythm” and that’s why it was included in the set. He even accommodated a fan request to perform a song about the state of New Jersey, where he impersonated musical greats like Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, Billy Holiday, the Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan.
Other well-performed pieces included “Satin Doll,” “L-O-V-E,” “I Have Dreamed,” “Witchcraft,” and “Ring-A-Ding Ding”—a song that Pizzarelli inserted into the set just because he loves Sinatra that much. Laughter and applause filled the show and an encore had Pizzarelli returning to the stage for one more tune.
Though Pizzarelli was center stage, the Minnesota Orchestra also shone. It is always an experience to see musicians trained in their craft putting on a great show, and if you have never been to see the Minnesota Orchestra, it is something you should put on your to-do list. Even if you “Can’t Buy Me Love,” you can buy a romantic evening at Orchestra Hall, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not.