Paul McCartney had a great idea for an album. He just needed guitarist John Pizzarelli to make it.
“I got an idea got in my head,” McCartney wrote to Pizzarelli in late May 2014.
“It might be interesting for you to do a few of my songs that are lesser known than some of the others. I realize this may be a little immodest, if not pushy. I imagine the songs would include post-Beatles melodies of mine like ‘Love in the Open Air’ [from the soundtrack to the 1967 film The Family Way), ‘Junk,’ ‘Warm and Beautiful’ and possibly ‘My Valentine.’”
“My Valentine” was the one McCartney composition on his 2012 album of songs from the Thirties and Forties, Kisses on the Bottom (MPL/Hear Music/Concord). Pizzarelli played guitar on the album and backed McCartney on a handful of live performances at the time, including the Grammy Awards, the MusiCares Person of the Year gala and the initial iTunes/Apple TV live broadcast.
Hailed as one of the prime contemporary interpreters of the Great American Songbook, Pizzarelli has expanded his repertoire by performing the music of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Antônio Carlos Jobim and the Beatles.
McCartney concluded in his letter, “The attraction for me is lesser-known tunes done in a mellow jazz style and, if it gets some traction, maybe the album could be titled Midnight McCartney. As I said, this may tickle your fancy or you may decide these are the ramblings of a deranged composer with too much time on his hands.”
To say Pizzarelli was tickled is putting it mildly.
Pizzarelli, his wife Jessica Molaskey—co-producer of Midnight McCartney—and pianist Larry Goldings immediately went into research mode, digging through McCartney's albums of the last 45-plus years to find songs that could be re-harmonized and adapted for Pizzarelli's trademark style.
Midnight McCartney will be released September 11. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer for the new album below.