The Red Door, Bucky Pizzarelli and Scott Hamilton’s tribute to sax god Zoot Sims, is an amazingly sublime album. Sims was a true sultan of swing, a classic golden-age jazzer of the ’30s and ’40s whose horn helped define the sound of an era. In celebration of Zoot’s music, tenor saxman Hamilton and swing guitarist Pizzarelli work together as a duet like Siamese twins.
Pizzarelli plays a six-string Gibson acoustic archtop and a seven-string electric, unrolling chord-melody solos and bopping single-note lines that swing like there’s no tomorrow. Now 72, Bucky is a contemporary of Zoot, and is still one of the finest swing guitarmen going.
The arrangements here are tight but spontaneous, and the sound is old and new. If you have any love for swing, this will take you on a joyful trip down memory lane.
Pizzarelli’s Nirvana features Bucky on his trademark seven-string Benedetto with backing from his son, John Pizzarelli. The sound is very electric, modern-style jazz featuring covers of Django’s “Nuages,” Benny Goodman’s “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” and more.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’98 issue.