According to Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, pentimento is defined as "the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been painted over." Musical theater star performer Jessica Molaskey's album of the same name gives a jazzy musical twist to this definition by updating songs from the 1920s and '30s. The play list is made up of those wonderful songs that people were enjoying during the pre-Depression flapper and Depression eras. Often their lyrics reflected the social and economic mores of the time, such as "We're in the Money"; others are just lovely songs from a bygone era, some of which have survived quite well to this day. These were the staples of many vaudeville and music hall performers and Tin Pan Alley song pluggers. Molaskey is joined by a stellar cast of musicians as she freshens up these vintage melodies, giving them a somewhat modern sheen, but not enough to completely mask their authenticity as classic American popular songs. The all-star band includes Ken Peplowski with his middle-register clarinet, Larry Goldings, and veteran Johnny Frigo. This group is augmented by Molaskey's husband, guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli, and his father, Bucky Pizzarelli. Molaskey delivers this wonderful material in an ungarnished, straightforward, clear, and pretty voice. She also has a way with taking these oldies and giving them a new look by simply changing the pulse. This happens on "I'm Just Wild About Harry," which is done as a plaintive ballad instead of the usually fast tap-dancing pace of its Broadway introduction in Shuffle Along in 1921. Even more than the pleasant warm feeling of nostalgia this fine album produces, it is a fun album of good music performed by excellent practitioners of their trade. Highly recommended for everybody who enjoys good music.
by Dave Nathan
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