Pete Jolly

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Pete Jolly
Birth name Peter A. Ceragioli Jr.
Born (1932-06-05)June 5, 1932
New Haven, Connecticut
United States
Died November 6, 2004(2004-11-06) (aged 72)
Pasadena, California
United States
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano, accordion

Pete Jolly (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. Pete Jolly was raised in Phoenix, AZ, a hotbed of jazz and jazz talent 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, Jolly 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 virtuosic accordionist.

His composition "Little Bird" (a minor hit on Fred Astaire's Ava label) 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 of which was a 2000 collaboration with Jan Lundgren. His final album, recorded in Phoenix in May 2004 shortly before his death, was "It's a Dry Heat" with saxophonist Jerry Donato. He also worked with other notable jazz artists, including Buddy DeFranco, Art Pepper and Red Norvo, and for many years with music arranger and director Ray Conniff as well as Herb Alpert, recording on Alpert's record label, A&M as both a sideman and a 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. Jolly 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 Jolly said it was the best he had ever played; a fitting coda to a great career and great musical spirit. Together for nearly fifty years, The Pete Jolly Trio had only one bassist, Chuck Berghofer and one drummer, Nick Martinis, something of a world record. Berghofer later said, "In all that time, Pete never once told me how to play or what to play."

Pete Jolly died in Pasadena, California, from complications of multiple myeloma in November 2004, aged 72.[1]


  • Jolly Jumps In, RCA Victor LPM 1105
  • Duo, Trio, Quartet, RCA Victor LPM 1125
  • When Lights are Low, RCA Victor LPM 1367
  • Impossible, MetroJazz Records SE-1014
  • Continental Jazz, Stereo Fidelity SFS-11000
  • The Sensational Pete Jolly Gasses Everybody, Charlie Parker PLP-825S
  • Little Bird, Ava AS-22
  • Sweet September, Ava AS-39
  • 5 O'Clock Shadows, MGM SE-4127
  • Too Much, Baby, Columbia CS-9197
  • Herb Alpert Presents Pete Jolly, A&M SP-4145
  • Give a Damn, A&M SP-4184
  • Seasons, A&M SP-3033
  • Strike Up the Band, Atlas Records
  • Pete Jolly Trio & Friends, VSOP 78
  • Live in L.A.: Red Chimney and Sherry's Bar, VSOP 91
  • Yours Truly, Bainbridge Records QCD-1007
  • Gems, Holt Recordings HRCD-3303
  • Yeah!, VSOP VSP 98
  • Timeless, VSOP VSP 105
  • Collaboration (with Jan Lundgren), Fresh Sounds FSRCD5038
  • It's a Dry Heat (with Jerry Donato),

With Elmer Bernstein

With J. J. Johnson

With Johnny Mandel

With Gerry Mulligan

With Shorty Rogers


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