John Cocuzzi Biography • Articles • Reviews
Alan [Dale] andJohn [Cocuzzi]reflect the honestyand purity of good,hard-swingingmusic. TheseGentlemen of Jazzare both preservingand invigoratingwhat has becomea perishable art.
— LOUIE BELLSONDrummer forLouis Armstrong,Lionel Hampton,Duke Ellington,Count Basie,Benny Goodman,Tommy Dorsey,Harry James,Woody Herman,and others.
"Versatility, virtuosity and passion"IN THE SPIRIT OF LOUIS ARMSTRONGIntro paragraph for promo bio (150 word count)
Swingster John Cocuzzi has New Orleans flavor and East Coast flair, playing with passion and intensity on piano, vibes and drums. For more than 25 years, John has been entertaining crowds in the Washington, DC area and performing alongside jazz and blues greats at festivals across the United States and in Europe. With dynamic style and diverse rhythms, John's innovation breathes new life into familiar tunes, from swingin' and burnin' jazz and blues to lush and sultry ballads. An intuitive performer, John possesses that musical "fire in the belly," igniting the crowd with skillful improvisation, "telling his story" through spirited, high-energy solos. In addition to being a fine pianist, John has earned a nationwide reputation as a premier swing vibraphonist. He now lives in Northern California, spreading the jazz/blues/swing gospel in the Sacramento area as a soloist and bandleader, and working with the finest musicians in town. Famous jazz drummer Louie Bellson called John a "Gentleman of Jazz" and hired John's band to perform at his wedding reception in 1992. Click here to view the names of musicians John has worked with over the years.
Jazz journalist Cam Miller wrote: "His command of a vibraphone and piano, as well as being a fine 'shy-guy' vocalist, make him a triple-threat musician whose enthusiasm and engaging personality brighten any room in which he performs."
Click here to read What Others SayAbout John Cocuzzi
Partial list of past PERFORMANCEVENUES
Partial list ofMUSICIANS
"Besides having amarvelous earfor harmony,John Cocuzzi hasfire, enthusiasm,and speed." — STEVE JORDANGuitarist forBenny Goodman,Stan Kenton, Artie Shaw
"Versatility, virtuosityand passion:This is whatyou need to knowabout the musicof John Cocuzzi."— JEFF BARNHARTJazz pianist
"John Cocuzzi isa fabulous musicianand entertainer whocan do it all—vibes,piano and vocals."— DAVID COOPERDirectorSan Diego Jazz Party
ALL IN THE FAMILY
John Cocuzzi was born in the '60s at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, DC. His father, Frank Cocuzzi, had been a percussionist for the U.S. Marine Band and was a professional jazz drummer. Growing up, John would accompany his dad and sit-in at jam sessions with the older players. As a young man exposed to great jazz, John was able to get acquainted with these players and their music. There was live music everywhere he went, leading him to his musical life path. John soon established himself as a dynamic stylist and multi-instrumentalist in the Washington, DC area.
STYLES AND INFLUENCES
First a drummer, then a piano player, John didn't add the vibraphone till his late teens when he was inspired by Lionel Hampton recordings. Drumming greatly influenced John's rhythmic versatility on piano and vibes. Cocuzzi's piano work is influenced by Jelly Roll Morton, Thomas "Fats" Waller, Mead "LUX" Lewis, Professor Longhair, Nat "King" Cole, James Booker, and Erroll Garner. One can also hear echoes of Gene Harris and Dave McKenna in John's playing. His vibraphone influences include Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo, and Milt Jackson. His vocal influences are New Orleans jazz and blues stylists, but John also has his own shy-guy style on ballads. He enjoys making old songs new by creatively introducing fresh rhythms and honoring the rhythms of New Orleans in the spirit of Louis Armstrong.
LEADER & FOLLOWER
For 15 years, John was Music Director for the 219 Restaurant’s Basin Street Lounge in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. He was also Music Director for the Crystal City Jazz Celebration, a jazz party in the DC area, where John worked since its inception in 2003 through 2006, presenting the best artists in classic jazz today. In 2009, John became VP of the Sac. Trad. Jazz Society, which produces the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee.
John has been working as both sideman and leader with top musicians since the mid-1980s and continues to attract new fans wherever the music takes him, whether its cross-country with Ed Polcer's All-Stars or Allan Vaché's "Benny Goodman Tribute," or to Europe with the Joe Ascione Quartet. In the DC area, John appeared with his own trio/quartet and performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian’s IMAX Jazz Café, the Corcoran Art Gallery, and Blues Alley, Washington DC’s premier jazz club. He has also performed at the Lincoln Center in New York City, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, MD, Snug Harbor and the Palm Court Jazz Café in New Orleans, Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, and Marian's Jazz Room in Bern, Switzerland.
IN GOOD COMPANYJohn has been blessed to perform and/or record with numerousjazz and blues greats — listed alphabeticallyClick on the w to visit their website
IN JOHN'S WORDS:“My fatheralways wantedto learn the piano butdidn’t really have anopportunity to do soin his childhood,so he got pianolessons for me whenI was 8 years old.I studied with myfirst teacher,Mrs. Sturgis,in Cheverly, MD.(Thank youMrs. Sturgis!)I had a lesson everySaturday morningat her house.Then, I studiedwith Mr. Pollackfor 6 years.(Thank youMr. Pollack!)When I heard his8-year-old sonplay Bach on the'good' piano upstairs,I realizedI wasn’t cut out to bea classical pianist,so I spent my timelearning andlistening to jazz.Mr. Pollackfinally lost patiencewith me improvisingBach’s music,and the restis history." —JOHN COCUZZI
BLUES LEGENDS “Weeping” Tommy BrownFloyd DixonEarl KingJimmy McCracklinJimmy “T-99” Nelson
PLUS OTHER GREATS OFBLUES and JUMP BLUES:"Little Charlie" BatyMookie BrillJaniva Magness "Big Joe" Maher w Kevin McKendree w Bob Seeley
• • • • •
VOCALSTerry Blaine wYve Evans w Banu Gibson Rebecca Kilgore wVivian Lee w Brady McKay w Barbara Morrison w Daryl Sherman
PIANOJeff BarnhartJohn BunchJudy Carmichael w Skitch Henderson Eddie HigginsTom Hook Dick HymanJim Martinez w Mark ShaneJohn SheridanRossano Sportiello w Ray TemplinJohnny Varro
JAZZ LEGENDSLouis Bellson, drKeter Betts, bBilly Butterfield, tptDoc Cheatham, tptBarrett Deems, drBob Haggart, bSkitch Henderson, composer, arranger, conductor, pianistMilt Hinton, bSteve Jordan, gtr w Snooky Young, tpt• • • • •
VIBRAPHONEPeter Appleyard Chuck Redd w
VIOLINJohnny FrigoAndy Stein
GUITARHoward Alden w James ChirilloJoe CohnVinnie CorraoEddie EricksonMarty GroszSteve Homan w Steve JordanJerry KrahnRussell MaloneBucky PizzarelliJohn Pizzarelli w
TRUMPET / CORNET Billy ButterfieldDoc Cheatham, tpt Jackie Coon (flugelhorn) Jim Cullum w Duke Heitger Clyde HuntJon-Erik Kellso w Ed Polcer w Randy ReinhartRandy SandkeTom SaundersBob Schulz Bria Skonberg w Byron StriplingWarren Vaché w Snooky Young Joe Wilder
TROMBONEBill AllredJohn Allred w Dan Barrett wWycliffe Gordon w Bob HavensGeorge MassoRuss Phillips w Mike Rinta
BASSKeter Betts Andy CleyndertFrank TatePhil FlaniganVince GiordanoBob Haggart Milt Hinton Paul Keller w Kristin Korb Jennifer Leitham wChris LutyNicki Parrott w John Previti wRichard Simon w Murray Wall
CLARINET(See below for Clarinet/Sax) Evan ChristopherKim CusackBob Draga Bobby GordonChuck Hedges Eric SchneiderAllan Vaché w
CLARINET / SAX Harry Allen w John AltmanDan BlockAnat Cohen Kenny DavernTom FischerJim GallowayRed HollowayDan Levinson w Mike McMullenTommy Newsom Joep Peeters Ken Peplowski w Houston Person w Scott RobinsonFrank RoberscheutenAntti SarpillaBob Wilber
DRUMSJoe Ascione wLouie Bellson Frank Cocuzzi w Danny CootsBarrett Deems Gerald FrenchJake HannaAli Jackson Eddie LockeEd Metz, Jr. w Butch MilesBobby RosengardenPete Siers
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THIS AND THAT
On radio, John recorded a session for NPR’s “Riverwalk: Live at The Landing” with the Jim Cullum Band. It was a tribute to Benny Goodman, “The Swing Shift: Jazz on Late-Night Radio,” and featured Allan Vaché on clarinet with Nicholas Payton on trumpet.
National tours with Ed Polcer have included educational programs for grades K-12 and college level clinics involving demonstrations, information, technique, and performance. They discuss America’s original art form—jazz and blues—and the instruments and musicians that made classic jazz what it is today.
John also does composing and arranging for jazz and other styles, and he does studio recording/mixing for classic jazz and swing. Visit the MUSIC page to hear samples of some of his recordings.
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Articles, News, and Reviews
REVIEW - CONCERT: John Cocuzzi Quartet in Sac., CABy Vivian Lee
REVIEW - CONCERT: "Sunday Eve. Jazz" at JB's in Sac., CA By Vivian Lee
REVIEW - CONCERT: John Cocuzzi for STJS – AATJBy Judy Hendricks
REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'" – All About JazzBy Dave Nathan
REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'" – epinions.comBy Mike Holmes
REVIEW – CD: "LIVE! In Cactus Country" – L.A. Jazz SceneBy Harvey Barkan
REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'"Assorted from The Absolute Sound, Jazz Times, and CMJ New Music Report
REVIEW – CD: "We Got Rhythm" by the Big Three TrioBy Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter
REVIEW – CD: "We Got Rhythm" by the Big 3 TrioBy Jim Santella, Cadence Magazine
NEWS RELEASE – John Cocuzzi named "Jazz Ambassador 2007" at AZ Classic Jazz Festival – Chandler, Arizona
ARTICLE – 2 articles on the West Texas Jazz Party in May 2009.
ARTICLE – "Swing & Jazz Preservation Society January 15, 2008 Concert: ED POLCER AND HIS JAZZ ALL-STARS" – by Mort Mozar
ARTICLE – "The Day John Cocuzzi’s Band Almost Blew the Roof Off the Glendora Ballroom" – by Nicolette Modaber
ARTICLE – "Jazz in Mountain Time: Summit Jazz is Top-Level Music" – by Bob Lynn
ARTICLE — (Riverwalk Radio) "The Swing Shift: Jazz on Late-Night Radio" – by Don Mopsick
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