John Pizzarelli

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John Pizzarelli
Pizzarelli at the 2014 Detroit Jazz Festival
Pizzarelli at the 2014 Detroit Jazz Festival
Background information
Birth nameJohn Paul Pizzarelli Jr.
Born (1960-04-06) April 6, 1960 (age 61)
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
GenresJazz, swing
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, composer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1980–present
LabelsP-Vine, Chesky, Novus, RCA, Telarc, Arbors, Concord
Associated actsBucky Pizzarelli, Martin Pizzarelli, Jessica Molaskey, Ray Kennedy

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

Early life[edit]

The son of swing guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He started on guitar when he was six and played trumpet through his college years.[1] He attended Don Bosco Preparatory High School, an all-boys Catholic school. In his teens, he performed with Benny Goodman, Les Paul, Zoot Sims, Slam Stewart, and Clark Terry.[2]

Pizzarelli attended the University of Tampa and William Paterson University, though he has said that his most important teacher was his father from 1980 to 1990.[1] During the 1980s, he established himself as a jazz guitarist and a vocalist. He released his debut solo album, I'm Hip (Please Don't Tell My Father), in 1983.[3]


During the 1990s, Pizzarelli played in a trio with Ray Kennedy and Martin Pizzarelli, his younger brother. In 1993, the trio was the opening act for Frank Sinatra, in Las Vegas, when his manager Ken Greengrass made the introduction. Pizzarelli fired Greengrass shortly thereafter. Four years later, Pizzarelli starred in Dream, a Broadway show devoted to the music of Johnny Mercer.[1][3] He has named Nat King Cole as the inspiration for his career[1] and honors that influence in the albums Dear Mr. Cole (BMG, 1994) and P.S. Mr. Cole (RCA, 1999). He has also recorded tribute albums to Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Richard Rodgers, and Paul McCartney.[3] He and his father accompanied Annie Ross on her album To Lady with Love (Red Anchor, 2014), a tribute to Billie Holiday that Ross recorded when she was eighty-four.[4]

He has hosted a national radio show, Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli, with his wife, singer and actress Jessica Molaskey.[1] Other musicians he has worked with include George Shearing, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Frigo, Buddy DeFranco, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.[5]

He sang the 1999 big-band jingle for Foxwoods Resort Casino, titled "The Wonder of It All."[6]

Pizzarelli was a co-producer of the James Taylor album American Standard, which was nominated for a Grammy in the category of "Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album" on November 24, 2020.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Pizzarelli's father died on April 1, 2020, from complications to COVID-19.[8] Pizzarelli's mother died one week later on April 8, 2020.[9][10]


As leader[edit]

With Bucky Pizzarelli

  • Nirvana, Bucky Pizzarelli (Delta, 1995)
  • Contrasts (Arbors, 1999)
  • Twogether (Victrola, 2001)
  • Around the World in 80 Years, Bucky Pizzarelli (Victoria, 2006)
  • Generations (Arbors, 2007)
  • Sunday at Pete's, The Pizzarelli Boys (Challenge, 2007)
  • Pizzarelli Party, Arbors All Stars (Arbors, 2009)
  • Diggin' Up Bones, Bucky Pizzarelli (Arbors, 2009)
  • Desert Island Dreamers, The Pizzarelli Boys (Arbors, 2010)
  • Back in the Saddle Again, Bucky Pizarelli (Arbors, 2010)
  • Passionate Guitars (2010)
  • Family Fugue (Arbors, 2011)

With Jessica Molaskey

As Record Producer or co-producer[edit]

With James Taylor and Dave O'Donnell

As sideman or guest[edit]

With Monty Alexander

  • My America (Telarc, 2002)

With Harry Allen

  • Are You Having Any Fun? (Audiophile Records, 1994)
  • Tenors Anyone? (Slider, 2004)

With Sam Arlen

  • Arlen Plays Arlen: The Timeless Tribute to Harold Arlen (Arbors, 2005)

With Debby Boone

With Cheryl Bentyne

  • The Book of Love (Telarc, 2006)

With Ray Brown

  • Some of My Best Friends Are...Guitarists (Telarc, 2002)

With Rosemary Clooney

With Kristin Chenoweth

With Buddy DeFranco

  • Cookin' the Books (Arbors, 2004)

With Karen Egert

  • That Thing Called Love (2007)

With Johnny Frigo

  • Live from Studio A in New York City (Chesky Records, 1989)

With Natalie Cole

With Sara Gazarek

With Stephane Grappelli

  • Live at the Blue Note (Telarc, 1995)

With Skitch Henderson and Bucky Pizzarelli

  • Legends (Arbors, 2003)

With Hilary Kole

  • Haunted Heart

With Erich Kunzel

  • Got Swing! (Telarc, 2002)
  • Christmastime Is Here (Telarc, 2006)

With The Manhattan Transfer

With Paul McCartney

With Jane Monheit

  • Home (2010)

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Donnie O'Brien

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

With Curtis Stigers

  • Real Emotional (Concord, 2007)

With James Taylor

With Aaron Weinstein

  • A Handful of Stars (Arbors, 2005)


  1. ^ a b c d e Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  2. ^ Lamb, Buzz (January 2016). "John Pizzarelli" (PDF). Jazz and Blues Florida. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Collar, Matt. "John Pizzarelli". AllMusic. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Loudon, Christopher (January 11, 2015). "Annie Ross: To Lady with Love". JazzTimes. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  5. ^ John Pizzarelli's Complete Discography Archived September 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine at
  6. ^ "Meet Me At Foxwoods (FULL) (1:01)". YouTube. March 18, 2019. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "2021 GRAMMYs: Complete Nominees List'". November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  8. ^ Westhoven, William (April 2, 2020). "Jazz-guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli dies at 94 after testing positive for coronavirus". USA Today. McLean, Virginia. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "Loved and Lost: Musician Bucky Pizzarelli and his wife Ruth complemented each other for 66 years".
  10. ^ "Ruth Elizabeth Pizzarelli Obituary (1930 - 2020) the Record/Herald News".
  11. ^ "James Taylor Official Site'". February 28, 2020. Retrieved November 27, 2020.

External links[edit]