Music » Livewire

John Pizzarelli

Wednesday, January 17, at Nighttown.


Though John Pizzarelli may have been up to it before Harry Connick Jr., it was Connick's nice-looking-young-guy-sings-good-old-jazz-tunes routine that first cracked the pop culture consciousness. Nevertheless, Pizzarelli, a good-looking guitarist with a self-effacing sense of humor, has been singing and playing the good old jazz tunes for quite some time and may yet out-Connick Connick. Pizzarelli got his start with his dad, Bucky, a seven-string-guitar player whose roots in jazz go back for decades. Bucky dueted for years with young John, who picked up on dad's quick, clean picking, swing mannerisms, and love for the hollow-body electric guitar. Before long, Pizzarelli grew in stature from able accompanist to confident soloist. Dad also gave Pizzarelli his first major exposure in 1980, when he let Pizzarelli sit in with him and saxophonist Zoot Sims. Pizzarelli may have learned the guitar from his dad, but he certainly didn't take to Bucky's example: Keep your mouth shut and play. Pizzarelli soon added vocals to his act and formed a Nat King Cole-style trio in 1995 with a pianist and his brother Martin on bass. Pizzarelli's delicate voice and choice of instrument set him somewhat apart from young crooners such as Connick and Diana Krall, but the vibe and material is largely the same. With Kisses in the Rain, Pizzarelli goes barefoot for the cover photo and continues his steady stream of easy, swinging albums for candlelight romancing; most feature the occasional original in with tunes from the usual American Songbook customers such as Van Heusen, Porter, and Gershwin. He does occasionally let things get a little too firesidey, but like his dad, Pizzarelli is fully capable of swinging hard and fast.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.