Pete Jolly

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Pete Jolly
Birth namePeter A. Ceragioli Jr.
Born(1932-06-05)June 5, 1932
New Haven, Connecticut
United States
DiedNovember 6, 2004(2004-11-06) (aged 72)
Pasadena, California
United States
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsPiano, accordion

Pete Jolly (born Peter A. Ceragioli Jr., June 5, 1932 – November 6, 2004) was an American West Coast jazz pianist and accordionist. He was well known for his performance of television themes and various movie soundtracks.


Jolly began playing the accordion at age three, and appeared on the radio program Hobby Lobby at the age of seven. He was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, a hotbed of jazz at the time. One of his best friends and collaborators in Phoenix was guitarist Howard Roberts, whom he met at the age of 13. Following Roberts to Los Angeles in 1952, he immediately began working with the best players on the West Coast jazz scene, including Shorty Rogers. He moved easily into studio and session work. Besides his brilliance on the piano, he was a virtuoso on accordion.

His composition "Little Bird" (a minor hit on Fred Astaire's Ava Records) was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1963, and he formed the Pete Jolly Trio in 1964. With the Trio and as a solo artist, he recorded several albums. One of the last was a collaboration with Jan Lundgren in 2000. His final album, It's a Dry Heat, was recorded in Phoenix in May 2004 shortly before his death. He worked with Buddy DeFranco, Art Pepper, and Red Norvo, and for many years with music arranger and director Ray Conniff and Herb Alpert, recording on Alpert's record label, A&M as both sideman and leader.

Jolly's music can be heard on television programs such as Get Smart, The Love Boat, I Spy, Mannix, M*A*S*H and Dallas, as well as hundreds of movie soundtracks. He recreated all of Bud Powell's playing with Charlie Parker for the Clint Eastwood movie, Bird. By day, Jolly worked in the studios; by night, with his trio. He continued to perform with his trio in Los Angeles jazz clubs until shortly before being hospitalized in August 2004. His final public performance with his trio was in Reno, Nevada, and he said it was the best he had ever played. Active for nearly fifty years, the Pete Jolly Trio had only one bassist, Chuck Berghofer, and one drummer, Nick Martinis. Berghofer later said, "In all that time, Pete never once told me how to play or what to play."

Jolly died at the age of age 72 in November 2004 in Pasadena, California, from complications of multiple myeloma .[1]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1955 Jolly Jumps In RCA Victor With Shorty Rogers (trumpet), Jimmy Giuffre (tenor sax, baritone sax), Howard Roberts (guitar), Curtis Counce (bass), Shelley Manne (drums)[2]
1955? Duo, Trio, Quartet RCA Victor
1956? When Lights Are Low RCA Victor
1959? Impossible MetroJazz
1960 The Duo VSOP Duo, with Ralph Peña (bass)[3]
1962? 5 O'Clock Shadows MGM
Continental Jazz Stereo Fidelity
1963? The Sensational Pete Jolly Gasses Everybody Charlie Parker
1963? Little Bird Äva Some tracks trio, with Chuck Berghofer (bass), Larry Bunker (drums); some tracks with Howard Roberts (guitar), Kenny Hume (percussion) added[4]
1963? Sweet September Ava Most tracks trio, with Chuck Berghofer (bass), Larry Bunker (drums); some tracks quartet, with Howard Roberts (guitar), Berghofer (bass), Nick Martinis (drums)[5]
1960–65? Live in L.A.: Red Chimney and Sherry's Bar VSOP Most tracks with Chuck Berghofer and Ralph Peña (bass; separately), Nick Martinis (drums); in concert; released 1994[6]
1965? Too Much, Baby Columbia Trio, with Chuck Berghofer (bass), Nick Martinis (drums)[7]
1968? Herb Alpert Presents Pete Jolly A&M With John Pisano (guitar), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Earl Palmer (drums), orchestra[8]
1969 Timeless VSOP With Chuck Berghofer (bass), Nick Ceroli (drums)[2]
1970? Give a Damn A&M With Chuck Berghofer (bass), Nick Ceroli (drums), brass; in concert[9]
1970? Seasons A&M With Chuck Berghofer (bass), Paul Humphrey (drums), John Pisano (guitar), Milt Holland and Emil Richards (percussion), brass
1980? Strike Up the Band Atlas
1993? Yours Truly Bainbridge Trio, with Chuck Berghofer (bass), Nick Martinis (drums)[10]
Gems Holt
1995 Yeah! VSOP With Chuck Berghofer (bass), Nick Martinis (drums)[3]
2001 Collaboration Fresh Sound With Jan Lundgren (piano), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Joe LaBarbera (drums)[3]


  • Quartet, Quintet & Sextet (Fresh Sound, 1955–56)[3]
  • Pete Jolly and Friends (VSOP, 1962–64)[3]

As sideman[edit]

With Elmer Bernstein

With Kenny Burrell

With Buddy Collette

With Jerry Donato

  • It's a Dry Heat

With Joni James

With J. J. Johnson

With Quincy Jones

With Johnny Mandel

With Gerry Mulligan

With Jack Nitzsche

With Shorty Rogers

With Tom Waits


  1. ^ Oliver, Myrna (November 8, 2004). "Pete Jolly, 72; Jazz Pianist, Composer and Accordion Player". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2004). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (7th ed.). Penguin. pp. 873–874. ISBN 978-0-14-101416-6.
  3. ^ a b c d e Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 791. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  4. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Pete Jolly / Pete Jolly Trio: Little Bird". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  5. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Pete Jolly / Pete Jolly Trio: Sweet September". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  6. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Pete Jolly: The Red Chimney and Sherry's Bar Recordings". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  7. ^ Dryden, Ken. "Pete Jolly: Too Much, Baby". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  8. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Pete Jolly: Herb Alpert Presents Pete Jolly". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  9. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Pete Jolly: Give a Damn". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  10. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Pete Jolly: Yours Truly". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2019.

External links[edit]