John Pizzarelli

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John Pizzarelli
John Pizzarelli.jpg
John Pizzarelli, Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy, 2001
Background information
Birth name John Paul Pizzarelli, Jr.
Born (1960-04-06) April 6, 1960 (age 56)
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Jazz, swing
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Labels P-Vine, Chesky, Novus, RCA, Telarc, Arbors, Concord
Associated acts Bucky Pizzarelli, Jessica Molaskey

John Paul Pizzarelli, Jr. (born April 6, 1960) is an American jazz guitarist and vocalist. He has recorded over 20 solo albums and has appeared on more than 40 albums of other recording artists, including Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Rosemary Clooney; his father, jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli; and his wife, singer Jessica Molaskey.



Pizzarelli has recorded nearly 40 albums of music, either as the leader or in tandem with other performers. Among others, Pizzarelli has recorded with such luminaries as George Shearing, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Frigo and Buddy DeFranco, as well as the Boston Pops Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Many if not most of his albums have received good to excellent reviews and are very popular sellers. Additionally, he has been a guest performer on numerous records throughout his career, for a total of over 140 albums.[1]

Pizzarelli often performs with his own jazz quartet, composed of his brother Martin Pizzarelli on double-bass, drummer Tony Tedesco and Larry Fuller on piano. He is also sometimes compared to another jazz singer, Harry Connick, Jr., for his performances of jazz standards and overall popularity.

Although lauded for his swinging interpretations of jazz standards, Pizzarelli also composes his own songs. He is also a fan of bossa nova and released an album entirely composed of that type of music.

Perhaps his most famous and highly regarded album, though, is Dear Mr. Cole, an album featuring Pizzarelli's versions of some of Nat "King" Cole's best known songs. The John Pizzarelli Trio only appears together on track one of the album, "Style is Back in Style". The rest features Pizzarelli performing with Christian McBride on bass and Benny Green on piano.

Pizzarelli and his wife, singer Jessica Molaskey co-host the nationally syndicated weekly radio program Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli.

He appeared on the March 31, 2007 episode of the NPR weekly radio news quiz, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, on the "Not My Job" segment. Pizzarelli sings "Birthday Emotions" on the children's television show Sesame Street.

On October 30, 2012, World on a String: A Musical Memoir, an autobiography of Pizzarelli (co-written with Joseph Cosgriff) was published.

A homage to Billie Holiday was the album To Lady With love (Red Anchor, 2014) of jazz singer Annie Ross which John and his father supported as sidemen.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Pizzarelli, an Italian American, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. Pizzarelli first played in the band Emanon ("No name" spelled backward) with his close friends. He then later played in a different arrangement of the band called Omega. Before gaining his fame, John was also the leader of a group entitled Johnny Pick and the Scabs, where he performed with a fake British accent. During childhood, Pizzarelli was a counselor at the now defunct Knights Day Camp. He grew up in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey and attended Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, New Jersey, an all-boys Roman Catholic High School.[3] He frequently expresses pride about being from New Jersey; a fan favorite at his live shows is the Cosgriff-Bernardi number I Like Jersey Best, a largely humorous tribute to the Garden State.

Pizzarelli is a huge Boston Red Sox fan, and has played baseball (in one capacity or another) all his life. In high school, he split his time between studying music and playing sports. As he once said in an interview: "I wasn't making any of the sports teams and I was a big sports fanatic. That's when I realized there was a reason why I was going to band practice." In April 2007 he performed at the BLOHARDS luncheon at The Yale Club of New York City, the BLOHARDS being Red Sox Nation chapter in New York.[4]

He married the actress and singer Jessica Molaskey in 1998, and the couple have a daughter, Madeleine. Pizzarelli also has a son, John Paul Pizzarelli, who is now attending college. They now live in New York City.[5]


As guest or sideman[edit]

With Monty Alexander

With Harry Allen

With Sam Arlen

With Debby Boone

With Cheryl Bentyne

With Ray Brown

With Kristin Chenoweth

With Buddy DeFranco

With Karen Egert

With Skitch Henderson and Bucky Pizzarelli

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Erich Kunzel

With The Manhattan Transfer

With Paul McCartney

With Jessica Molaskey

With Donnie O'Brien

  • Meets Manhattan Swing in a Basie Mood (Arbors, 2003)

With Bucky Pizzarelli

With Curtis Stigers

With Aaron Weinstein

  • A Handful of Stars (Arbors, 2005)


  1. ^ John Pizzarelli's Complete Discography at
  2. ^ Loudon, Christopher (January 11, 2015). "Review of Annie Ross: To Lady With love". JazzTimes. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  3. ^ Hicks, Robert. "Jazzman pays tribute to Sinatra", Daily Record, June 12, 2007. Accessed February 22, 2011. "John studied at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey before heading off to college at the University of Tampa."
  4. ^ News From the BLOHARDs
  5. ^ NY Times article

External links[edit]