John Pisano, dean of L.A. jazz guitar, dies at 93


Jazz guitarist extraordinaire John Pisano, famend for his stable rhythm, melodic solo strains and generosity, died Could 2 at his house in Studio Metropolis along with his spouse Jeanne by his aspect. He was 93 years previous.

Pisano’s profession spanned seven a long time and included sharing the stage or recording studio with many jazz luminaries, together with Chico Hamilton, Herb Alpert, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, his longtime pal Joe Go, and almost each notable guitarist within the enterprise as host for 22 years of his Guitar Evening at Spazio Restaurant in Sherman Oaks.

Bob Bakert, editor of Jazz Guitar At this time, stated, “A finer gentleman I’ve by no means met. John was a consummate gentleman and a gracious, really caring man. It was all the time in regards to the music and camaraderie and his love for his fellow musicians. John was a grasp craftsman.” Bakert famous that Pisano’s Guitar Evening custom lives on in distinguished guitarist Frank Vignola’s Guitar Evening at Birdland in New York, an intentional tribute to Pisano.

Vignola stated, “On the age of 5, one of many first recordings I heard was Joe Go’ ‘For Django.’ My guitar instructor, Jimmy George, and my father used to inform me to take heed to the rhythm guitarist, John. I acquired to know him and document with him within the early 2000s after I performed a uncommon touring look with Les Paul. He had me over to his home, made me a pizza and we recorded all afternoon. What a swinging guitar participant. Later, whereas on tour with Vinny Raniolo, we performed Guitar Evening.

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John Pisano and Chris Conner in 2017.

(Bob Barry / Jazzography)

“This completely impressed me to aspire to having a Guitar Evening in New York Metropolis. After COVID, Ryan Paternite reached out to me … asking if I might take into account a weekly Guitar Evening, ‘like John Pisano’s,’ as he put it. I used to be pleasantly stunned that he knew of John and the way superior his Guitar Evening was. I instantly jumped on the alternative, and we’ve been there virtually three years now, each Wednesday night time taking part in to close sold-out crowds weekly.

“What an excellent persona, individual, participant, songwriter and pizza maker.”

“John initially started his common and ongoing (over virtually twenty years) Guitar Evening collection as a strategy to hold his chops in good condition and to remain impressed by way of encounters with different guitarists,” stated Anthony Wilson, a guitarist and composer who is thought for a physique of labor that strikes fluidly throughout genres and is a frequent visitor at Guitar Evening.

The regular gig rapidly grew to become a hub for the guitar neighborhood in L.A. and was finally a required cease for the numerous famous gamers who traveled right here from across the nation in addition to from factors past. Pisano grew very naturally into his position because the dean of this massive intergenerational group of guitarists, guitar designers and builders, and guitar lovers, internet hosting the evenings with a heat, beneficiant spirit, and taking part in with a wide-open sense of musical curiosity that invited numerous approaches to the instrument and all the time saved the music very important and absorbing, Wilson remembers.

Pisano was born on Staten Island, N.Y., on Feb. 6, 1931. His first affect musically was his father, Americo Pisano, who performed guitar however by no means professionally, in accordance with John’s on-line biography. He began studying piano at in regards to the age of 10, however by no means actually cared to follow. It was about 13 when he began taking part in guitar.

He developed rapidly on the instrument, displaying as a lot innate ability as musical understanding. Then he heard Charlie Christian, a pioneer of jazz guitar, and never lengthy after Django Reinhardt, which deepened his love for the guitar. He was additionally launched to the jazz radio station WOV in New York and heard Charlie Parker. “Birdland had a reside broadcast about 3 or 3:30 within the morning. I keep in mind recording folks off the radio like Tadd Dameron and Fat Navarro with an acetate disc recorder that I owned,” he wrote.

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John Pisano in 2013

(Bob Barry / Jazzography)

In 1952, after being within the U.S. Air Pressure for about eight months, Pisano auditioned for the Air Pressure Band. It was the one authorization for a guitarist within the Air Pressure, and he acquired the gig, which included a number of recruiting broadcasts.

Pisano stated that he by no means thought of himself to be knowledgeable musician till he began taking part in with the U.S. Air Pressure band. He was additionally taking part in with the Crew Chiefs, an official Air Pressure group that did some touring, together with a 1955 Bob Hope U.S.O. present in Greenland and a spot on “The Steve Allen Present” in Los Angeles.

When he left the service, Pisano was planning to attend the Manhattan College of Music. Shortly earlier than he began his research, saxophonist and pal Paul Horn, who was then working with the Chico Hamilton band, referred to as to say that Jim Corridor was about to depart the band. Horn persuaded Hamilton to audition Pisano, who joined the band and ended up staying in California. Hamilton’s band could possibly be described as a chamber jazz quintet and produced a number of profitable albums, together with the music for the movie “The Candy Scent of Success.”

Pisano left the Hamilton band circa 1956 and did some session work whereas he studied music at Los Angeles Metropolis Faculty. In 1958, Pisano recorded two albums of guitar duets with Billy Bean, “Makin’ It,” and “Take Your Choose,” which have been each well-received.

Pisano met Go in 1962, when he requested Go to fill in for him with Pat Cavanaugh’s band whereas Pisano went on tour with Peggy Lee. Go was nonetheless at Synanon however he was already one thing of a legend and really well-known all through guitar and jazz circles. Their first recording collectively, “For Django,” in 1964, has develop into a touchstone amongst jazz guitarists. They went on to document nicely over a dozen albums collectively together with “Whitestone,” which Pisano co-produced; “Ira, George and Joe” in 1981, on which Go performed a 12-string guitar; and “Duets” in 1991, an album of wealthy interaction and sophisticated harmonies.

?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcalifornia times john pisano jim fox dave stone 1999 300dpi 8x10 - John Pisano, dean of L.A. jazz guitar, dies at 93

John Pisano, Jim Fox and Dave Stone in 1999.

(Bob Barry / Jazzography)

At all times holding busy, along with his session work, Pisano joined Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass in 1967. He contributed tunes to the band’s repertoire and recorded with many artists who have been on Alpert’s A&M document label. Pisano performed on all of the early Sergio Mendes hits, and a few tunes with Burt Bacharach. Throughout that interval, he was all the time touring and recording. He was with Alpert’s band for about 4 years earlier than the band folded.

“John was actually a father determine to me, each personally and musically, encouraging me and displaying me astounding issues on the instrument at an important level in my improvement as a musician,” stated Wilson, “I relished the numerous alternatives I needed to play with him and be taught from him, from informal periods at house that included his well-known home made pizzas, to many Guitar Nights, recording studios and live performance halls.”

Aside from an excellent instructor, Wilson additionally describes John as a lifelong pupil. The 2 generally took classes collectively — typically becoming a member of “life-changing” tandem two-hour periods with the legendary guitar instructor Ted Greene. Wilson added, “As a duo associate John was really outstanding, all the time offering the precise type of accompaniment wanted — the fitting chord, the fitting rhythm, the fitting really feel — with a sensitivity that appeared to be a musical reflection of his persona, which was empathetic, encouraging, and nurturing — like the most effective type of pal, you all the time knew John had your again.”

Pisano is survived by his spouse, Jeanne, a singer who carried out with John because the Flying Pisanos, his son Christopher and daughter Alyssa. The household asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Pisano’s honor to the Los Angeles Jazz Society.


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