|John Cocuzzi Biography • Articles • Reviews|
Alan [Dale] and
— LOUIE BELLSON
"Versatility, virtuosity and passion"
Swingster John Cocuzzi has New Orleans flavor and East Coast class, 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
Partial list of past
Partial list of
"Besides having a
"John Cocuzzi is
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 COMPANY
IN JOHN'S WORDS:
to learn the piano but
didn’t really have an
opportunity to do so
in his childhood,
so he got piano
lessons for me when
I was 8 years old.
I studied with my
in Cheverly, MD.
I had a lesson every
at her house.
Then, I studied
with Mr. Pollack
for 6 years.
When I heard his
play Bach on the
'good' piano upstairs,
I wasn’t cut out to be
a classical pianist,
so I spent my time
listening to jazz.
finally lost patience
with me improvising
and the rest
• • • • •
TRUMPET / CORNET
CLARINET / SAX
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.
Articles, News, and Reviews
INTERVIEW: Sacramento Music Festival
INTERVIEW: Radio Show talking about John and his music
REVIEW - CD: "Groove Merchant"
REVIEW - CONCERT: John Cocuzzi Quartet in Sac., CA
REVIEW - CONCERT: "Sunday Eve. Jazz" at JB's in Sac., CA
REVIEW - CONCERT: John Cocuzzi for STJS – AATJ
REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'" – All About Jazz
REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'" – epinions.com
REVIEW – CD: "LIVE! In Cactus Country" – L.A. Jazz Scene
REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'"
REVIEW – CD: "We Got Rhythm" by the Big Three Trio
REVIEW – CD: "We Got Rhythm" by the Big 3 Trio
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"
ARTICLE — (Riverwalk Radio) "The Swing Shift: Jazz on Late-Night Radio" – by Don Mopsick
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