Jazz guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli is a technically proficient fretman with a soft voice, charming stage presence, and knack for uptempo swing. Most often performing in a trio setting sans drums, Pizzarelli has found his niche covering jazz standards and American popular song in his own urbane style. The son of journeyman swing guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, John began performing with his father at age 20 and made his recorded debut with his 1983 release, I'm Hip -- Please Don't Tell My Father. Growing up, John was exposed to the music of such jazz luminaries as Les Paul and Django Reinhardt, and he has justifiably drawn comparisons to both of these legendary guitarists.
Pizzarelli's updated old-school sound caught the ear of many jazz purists early on; notably, in 1993 the John Pizzarelli Trio opened various dates on Frank Sinatra's tour, eventually participating in the legendary vocalist's 80th birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall. Interestingly, Pizzarelli's growing popularity garnered him a lead spot in the 1997 Broadway production of Dream, a tribute to composer Johnny Mercer. His 1998 RCA release, Meets the Beatles, found him reinterpreting classic songs by the iconic Liverpool quartet, while the following year he paid tribute to one of his biggest influences, pianist/vocalist Nat King Cole, on P.S. Mr. Cole. Pizzarelli then signed with the Telarc label in 1999 and released two standards-based albums, Kisses in the Rain and Let There Be Love, in 2000.
Since then, he has recorded an album with pianist George Shearing and celebrated ten years of performing with his trio by releasing the concert album Live at Birdland in 2003. Taking a break from swing, Pizzarelli released Bossa Nova in 2004. Largely featuring the works of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, the album showcased the Pizzarelli Trio on such classics of the genre as "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Aguas de Marco" (Waters of March). In 2005 Pizzarelli returned to his usual fare of American standards with Knowing You (though he penned the title track), and, backed by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, paid his tribute to the legend himself with 2006's Dear Mr. Sinatra. With a Song in My Heart, featuring the songs of composer Richard Rodgers, followed in 2008.
In 2010, Pizzarelli paid homage to legendary pianist/bandleader Duke Ellington with Rockin' in Rhythm: A Duke Ellington Tribute. The following year he appeared with his father on Family Fugue. In 2012, Pizzarelli released the album Double Exposure, featuring his take on classic jazz standards as well as contemporary pop standards from his youth, including works by Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, and others. Three years later, he saluted Paul McCartney via the smoky, low-key Midnight McCartney album. 2017 saw the release of Sinatra & Jobim at 50, a celebration of the landmark 1967 album Francis Albert Sinatra and Antônio Carlos Jobim. The fond tributes kept coming as Pizzarelli returned in 2019 with For Centennial Reasons: 100 Year Salute to Nat King Cole. ~ Matt Collar