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JOHN PIZZARELLI has cultivated a winning international career by singing classic standards and late-night ballads, and by playing sublime and inventive guitar. Using greats such as Nat “King” Cole and Frank Sinatra, and the songs of writers like Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen as touchstones, Pizzarelli is among the prime revivalists of the great American songbook, bringing to his work the cool jazz flavor of his brilliant guitar playing.
Born on April 6, 1960, in Paterson, New Jersey, Pizzarelli has been playing guitar since age six, following in the tradition of his father, guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli. Hanging out with his father, he was exposed to all the great jazz music of the era, from Erroll Garner and Les Paul to Django Reinhardt. He began playing with his father at age 20, and then went out on his own. Since 1992, the John Pizzarelli Trio has toured extensively. In 1993, they were honored to open for Frank Sinatra’s international tour and then joined in the celebration for his 80th birthday at Carnegie Hall.
Pizzarelli’s voice has continued to develop with time, displaying both charm and humor. Along the way, Pizzarelli has earned rave reviews. “We can say we’re as lucky to listen to [Pizzarelli] as Nat Cole fans were in the years before he became a legend,” Village Voice said of a recent New York show. For Pizzarelli, the comparison to the Nat “King” Cole Trio is the highest of compliments. “I’ve always said in my concerts that Nat ‘King’ Cole is why I do what I do.” But Pizzarelli quickly adds, “We aren’t trying to copy him. That sound was so singular and inspired. I’ve always said we’re an extension, a ’90s version of what that group was.” In fact, Pizzarelli devoted his Dear Mr. Cole album to music made famous by the beloved song stylist. On one of his last projects for RCA, John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles, he brought classic Beatles songs into the worlds of swing and smoky balladry.
Pizzarelli signed with the Grammy-winning label Telarc International at the end of 1999 and in February 2000 debuted Kisses in the Rain, a diverse set of standards and original tunes that showcases the spontaneity of his live performances within a studio setting. His second Telarc recording, the intimate and unabashedly romantic Let There Be Love, was released in November 2000. On his 2002 album, The Rare Delight of You, Pizzarelli teamed up with veteran pianist George Shearing. In the tradition of classic quintet-and-vocalist recordings, they laid down great standards (including “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” “If Dreams Come True” and “Lost April”) as well as a couple originals, all in vibrant arrangements.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the John Pizzarelli Trio, Live at Birdland was released in April 2003. That October, Pizzarelli led a 40-member live orchestra at Radio City Music Hall in Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way.
In 2004, Pizzarelli introduced a new generation to bossa nova. Produced by Russ Titleman, Bossa Nova features several Brazilian musicians including Paulo Braga, who played drums with Antonio Carlos Jobim for many years, vocalist Daniel Jobim (Jobim’s grandson), and Cesar Camargo Mariano, who produced, composed, and played on many great Brazilian records, most notably with Elis Regina. Knowing You, his 2005 release, pays homage to the many talented musicians and songwriters he’s met throughout his career, and spotlights longtime partners Ray Kennedy on piano and brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, along with the newest member of the group, drummer Tony Tedesco.
He recently launched Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli, his nationally syndicated radio program, co-hosted with his wife, Broadway star Jessica Molaskey. Bringing warmth, humor, and that long-lost “live” feel back to radio, the show takes place in their “deluxe living room” and the conversations are relaxed, candid, and off-the-cuff. The show is available globally as a podcast at www.johnpizzarelli.com.
In 2006, Telarc released Dear Mr. Sinatra, Pizzarelli’s tribute CD to “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” featuring the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. The CD features classic standards like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Nice And Easy,” as well as rarely recorded songs like “Ring A Ding Ding” and “The Last Dance.” Last spring, he was featured in the new PBS series Legends of Jazz.
In addition to being a bandleader and solo performer, Pizzarelli has been a special guest on recordings for major pop names such as James Taylor and Natalie Cole, as well as leading jazz artists like Buddy DeFranco, Harry Allen, and, of course, Bucky Pizzarelli. He was recently featured opposite Donna Summer, Jon Secada, and Roberta Flack on the Grammy-winning CD, Songs From The Neighborhood: The Music of Mr. Rogers.
Pizzarelli continues to tour throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, performing classic pop, jazz, and swing, while setting the standard for stylish modern jazz. Please visit www.johnpizzarelli.com for tour schedule, discography, radio guests, and much more.