Bucky Pizzarelli Day

January 9, 1926 – April 1, 2020

A tribute to the tasteful swing guitarist

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Guitarist John Paul “Bucky” was born on January 9, 1926 in Paterson, New Jersey.

Mostly self-taught, Pizzarelli’s first significant musical job was with the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra during 1944-51 except for a period in the military during 1945-46.

After leaving Vaughn’s commercial but successful band, Pizzarelli became a long-time member of the staff of NBC (1952-64) followed by a period working for ABC.

While the studio work, which involved everything from commercials to pop singers, rock and roll dates, and television orchestras, kept him busy, Pizzarelli always found time to play swinging jazz, often working jobs with Benny Goodman (starting in the mid-1950s and continuing into the ‘80s).

Pizzarelli became more of a fulltime jazz player in the 1970s, playing his seven-string guitar with Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Zoot Sims, Bud Freeman, a duo with fellow guitarist George Barnes, Manhattan Swing (a trio with pianist John Bunch and bassist Jay Leonhart), and on many worthy albums of his own.

Bucky Pizzarelli’s daughter Mary was a classical guitarist and his sons guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli and bassist Martin Pizzarelli have often appeared with him (and vice versa).

Despite some health problems, Bucky Pizzarelli has remained musically active into his nineties, still playing the swing music that he loves most.

Here is Bucky Pizzarelli in 1986 performing “In A Mellotone.”


Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar
Milt Hinton, bass
Jake Hanna, drums

-Scott Yanow


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