Back in 2014, Paul McCartney had a great idea for an album. He just needed a world-renowned guitarist and singer to make it happen.
Enter John Pizzarelli, whose musical interpretations of such legendary artists as Frank Sinatra, James Taylor and McCartney’s former band, the Beatles, have received critical acclaim. Pizzarelli even worked with McCartney on his 2012 album, Kisses on the Bottom.
McCartney invited Pizzarelli to delve into his deep catalog of post-Beatles material and take some of his lesser-known tunes and reinterpret them in a mellow jazz style.
The resulting album, Midnight McCartney (which will be released September 11), features “Silly Love Songs,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Coming Up” and other tunes from McCartney’s 45-year-long solo career—all tastefully done in Pizzarelli’s trademark style.
I recently spoke with Pizzarelli about the new album, his work with Paul McCartney, guitars and more.
GUITAR WORLD: How did this project begin?
I had worked on Kisses on the Bottom with Paul in 2012, and we promoted it the following year. We played “My Valentine” on the Grammys and he did a MusiCares event and a live iTunes concert. Then in May of 2014, I got this letter from Paul out of the clear blue sky. He said, “I have this crazy idea to run by you.”
The idea was that maybe I would do a record of some of his post-Beatles catalog as well as some lesser-known songs like “Junk,” “Warm and Beautiful” and “My Valentine.” He said if I liked the idea maybe I could call the record Midnight McCartney and include a dishy little picture of me against the Manhattan skyline [laughs].
I was like, “OK! Whatever you want to call it. Let’s go!” So I went in, did some demos, recorded the record at the beginning of this year and now here we are—Midnight McCartney!
For those of us who have never had the pleasure of meeting him, what’s Paul McCartney like?
I remember my sisters watching The Ed Sullivan Show, getting Abbey Road in the late Sixties and listening to all of the records and then following him through the Seventies and Eighties as well as the new stuff. Then meeting him and going, “OK. Now this all makes perfect sense!”
He’s a fine musician with amazing musical instincts and has done pretty much everything you could possibly imagine. I remember being in my twenties and going to William Paterson College. When he was in his twenties, he was getting off of a plane and there were 50,000 people screaming! Then he played Shea Stadium when he was 23.
To have all of that happen in his lifetime and then find out that not only is he a really great musician but he’s also a very down-to-earth guy—that’s what really stuck with me. There’s no mistaking that he’s Paul McCartney.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with John Pizzarelli by Clicking Here!