I hope David Letterman and Paul Shaffer paid Darlene Love a million bucks for singing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” with such soulful majesty on “The Late Show” last Friday, though it probably cost that much for all the musicians, singers and fake snow that made this epic tune such an extravaganza.
Love’s voice, though: wow! What a tremendous sound. Letterman has said: “It isn’t Christmas without Darlene Love,” and he’s right. Usually I get my cool-music-on-TV tips from Albany mega-fan Steve Nover, but my Jazz Fest runnin’ pardner Dennis gave me the heads-up on this.
(Some years back, when Dennis hit town, we went to Café Capriccio for dinner and bartender/musician/sculptor Dennis Herbert poured the libations. Then we walked to the then-Pepsi Arena where Grateful Dead publicist and historian Dennis McNally — “A Long Strange Trip” — provided tickets for us to see the Jerry Garcia Band which, surprisingly, featured nobody named Dennis onstage that night.)
Jazz players probably give us the most memorable versions of classic holiday tunes, notably “Christmas in New Orleans” by Louis Armstrong, “The Christmas Song” by Dexter Gordon, “Jingle Bells” by Duke Ellington, “White Christmas” by Charlie Parker and the All-Stars and our own Lee Shaw on Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall.”
All that jazz
So what about after Christmas? Of course, there’s Ella Fitzgerald’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” — plus some cool jazz shows here.
On Friday, guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli brings his quartet — brother/bassist Martin Pizzarelli, drummer Kevin Kanner and pianist Konrad Paszkudzki — into The Egg (Empire State Plaza Albany). Show time is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $38. 473-1845, www.theegg.org.
On Saturday, Pizzarelli teams up with singer/wife Jessica Molaskey (his co-host on PBS’ “Radio Deluxe”) and his father, Bucky Pizzarelli, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (14 Castle St., Great Barrington, Mass.). Admission is $80, $60, $55 and $25 — or $100 for special concert seats and post-show reception with the artists. 413-528-0100 www.mahaiwe.org.
Also on Saturday, tap-dancing virtuoso Savion Glover teams up with fellow tap-ster Marshall Davis at The Egg — with music by jazz drums virtuoso Jack DeJohnette’s quartet: clarinetist Don Byron, pianist George Colligan and bassist Jerome Harris. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $38.
Rockers like the holidays, too; and formerly-Albany-based rockers moe. return to their former home on Monday and Tuesday to play the Albany Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave.) On Monday, area buzz-band Eastbound Jesus opens at 7:30 p.m. for moe. — guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, bassist Rob Derhak, drummer Vinnie Amico and percussionist Jim Loughlin. Tickets are $35. 800-745-3000 www.palacealbany.com.
Following Monday’s moe. show, funk-rockers Kung Fu play an after-party at The Hollow (79 N. Pearl St., Albany), with Mister F opening at 11 p.m. Admission is $10. 426-8550 www.thehollowalbany.com.
On Tuesday, moe. plays three sets, aided and abetted by the Conehead Buddha Horns, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 in advance, $50 on Tuesday.
Former NRBQ guitarist Big Al Anderson played on the ’Q’s “Christmas Wish” album (1985), and he’s become a holiday-season fixture in Northampton, Mass., playing tonight, Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. at the Iron Horse (20 Centre St.) Tonight, Big Al fronts the Floor Models: northeastern rockers guitarist Jim Chapdelaine, drummer Lorne Entress and bassist Paul Kochanski. Admission is $40. 413-586-8686 www.iheg.com.
Big Al continues at the Horse on Friday and Saturday, both nights leading the World Famous Headliners — guitarist/singers Pat McLaughlin and Shawn Camp, bassist Michael Rhodes and drummer Greg Morrow.
Anderson divides his time between Connecticut and Nashville, concentrating on songwriting rather than performing — so this is a rare, triple-header treat. His cohorts in the World Famous Headliners seldom leave Nashville (where Big Al also leads a band called Whitey), so his ability to recruit them for this run demonstrates big props among musicians as songwriter, guitarist and singer. Admission on Friday and Saturday is $49.50.
Happy new year
Besides moe.’s New Year’s Eve Palace show:
u Proctors’ second annual Funk-n-Country New Year’s Eve Bash features Skeeter Creek (country) and Funk Evolution (duh) on Tuesday at 9 p.m. at the GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). Cash bars, snacks and the Times Square ball drop on the big screen. Admission is $35 in advance and $40 door. 346-6204 www.proctors.org.
u Troubadour (and sometime drummer) Steve Candlen and the Rob Skane 3 rock in the New Year at Carney’s Tavern (17 Main St., Ballston Lake). Cocktails at 4 p.m., five-course prix fixe dinner (with Candlen’s music) at 6. Skane and the boys play at 9 p.m. into 2014. The package is $120. 952-7177 www.carneystavernny.com.
u Sister Sparrow & Dirty Birds offer an R&B/soul-flavored New Year’s Eve at Club Helsinki Hudson (405 Columbia St., Hudson) on Tuesday at 9 p.m. Admission is $35, advance; $40 door. 828-4800 www.helsinkihudson.com.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.