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John Cocuzzi, vibraphone, piano, drums, vocals
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John Cocuzzi  Biography • Articles • Reviews

Alan [Dale] and
John [Cocuzzi]
reflect the honesty
and purity of good,
hard-swinging
music. These
Gentlemen of Jazz
are both preserving
and invigorating
what has become
a perishable art.

— LOUIE BELLSON
Drummer for
Louis 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 ARMSTRONG

Intro paragraph for promo bio (150 word count)

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."

   

John Cocuzzi slideshow

Click here to read
What Others Say
About John Cocuzzi

 

Partial list of past
PERFORMANCE
VENUES

Partial list of
MUSICIANS

ARTICLES and
REVIEWS

NEWS Releases

                         

"Besides having a
marvelous ear
for harmony,
John Cocuzzi has
fire, enthusiasm,
and speed."

— STEVE JORDAN
Guitarist for
Benny Goodman,
Stan Kenton, Artie Shaw

 

 

 

"Versatility, virtuosity
and passion:
This is what
you need to know
about the music
of John Cocuzzi."


— JEFF BARNHART

Jazz pianist

 

 

 

"John Cocuzzi is
a fabulous musician
and entertainer who
can do it all—vibes,
piano and vocals."

— DAVID COOPER
Director
San 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.

Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton

BACKGROUND

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
John has been blessed to perform and/or record with numerous
jazz and blues greats — listed alphabetically
Click on the w to visit their website

    IN JOHN'S WORDS:

“My father
always wanted
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
first teacher,
Mrs. Sturgis,
in Cheverly, MD.
(Thank you
Mrs. Sturgis!)
I had a lesson every
Saturday morning
at her house.
Then, I studied
with Mr. Pollack
for 6 years.
(Thank you
Mr. Pollack!)
When I heard his
8-year-old son
play Bach on the
'good' piano upstairs,
I realized
I wasn’t cut out to be
a classical pianist,
so I spent my time
learning and
listening to jazz.
Mr. Pollack
finally lost patience
with me improvising
Bach’s music,
and the rest
is history."

—JOHN COCUZZI
                         

BLUES LEGENDS
“Weeping” Tommy Brown
Floyd Dixon
Earl King
Jimmy McCracklin
Jimmy “T-99” Nelson

PLUS OTHER GREATS OF
BLUES and JUMP BLUES:

"Little Charlie" Baty
Mookie Brill
Janiva Magness

"Big Joe" Maher
w
Kevin McKendree
w
Bob Seeley

• • • • •

 

VOCALS
Terry Blaine w
Yve Evans
w
Banu Gibson
Rebecca Kilgore
w
Vivian Lee w
Brady McKay
w
Barbara Morrison
w
Daryl Sherman

 

PIANO
Jeff Barnhart
John Bunch
Judy Carmichael
w
Skitch Henderson
Eddie Higgins
Tom Hook

Dick Hyman
Jim Martinez
w
Mark Shane
John Sheridan
Rossano Sportiello
w
Ray Templin
Johnny Varro


 

JAZZ LEGENDS
Louis Bellson, dr
Keter Betts
, b
Billy Butterfield
, tpt
Doc Cheatham,
tpt
Barrett Deems
, dr
Bob Haggart
, b
Skitch Henderson,
composer, arranger, conductor, pianist
Milt Hinton
, b
Steve Jordan
, gtr w
Snooky Young, tpt



• • • • •

 

VIBRAPHONE
Peter Appleyard
Joep Peeters
(sax/piano)
Chuck Redd
w

 

VIOLIN
Johnny Frigo
Andy Stein

 

GUITAR
Howard Alden w
James Chirillo
Joe Cohn
Vinnie Corrao
Eddie Erickson
Marty Grosz
Steve Homan
w
Steve Jordan
Jerry Krahn
Russell Malone
Bucky Pizzarelli
John Pizzarelli
w

 

TRUMPET / CORNET
Billy Butterfield
Doc Cheatham, tpt
Jackie Coon
(flugelhorn)
Jim Cullum
w
Duke Heitger

Clyde Hunt
Jon-Erik Kellso
w
Ed Polcer
w
Randy Reinhart
Randy Sandke
Tom Saunders
Bob Schulz

Bria Skonberg
w
Byron Stripling
Warren Vaché
w
Snooky Young
Joe Wilder

 

TROMBONE
Bill Allred
John Allred
w
Dan Barrett
w
Wycliffe Gordon
w
Bob Havens
George Masso
Russ Phillips
w
Mike Rinta

 

BASS
Keter Betts
Andy Cleyndert
Isla Eckinger
Phil Flanigan
Vince Giordano
Bob Haggart
Milt Hinton
Paul Keller
w
Kristin Korb
Jennifer Leitham
w
Chris Luty
Nicki Parrott
w
John Previti
w
Richard Simon
w
Frank Tate
Murray Wall



 

CLARINET
(See below for Clarinet/Sax)
Evan Christopher
Kim Cusack
Bob Draga
Bobby Gordon
Chuck Hedges
Eric Schneider
Allan Vaché
w

CLARINET / SAX
Harry Allen w
John Altman
Dan Block
Anat Cohen
Kenny Davern
Tom Fischer
Jim Galloway
Red Holloway
Dan Levinson
w
Mike McMullen

Tommy Newsom
Ken Peplowski
w
Houston Person
w
Scott Robinson
Frank Roberscheuten
Antti Sarpilla
Bob Wilber

 

DRUMS
Joe Ascione w
Louie Bellson
Frank Cocuzzi
w
Danny Coots
Barrett Deems
Bernard Flegar
Gerald French
Jake Hanna
Ali Jackson
Eddie Locke
Ed Metz, Jr.
w
Butch Miles
Bobby Rosengarden
Pete 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

INTERVIEW: Sacramento Music Festival
By Ed Goldman of Sac. Business Journal

INTERVIEW: Radio Show talking about John and his music
By Judy Carmichael

REVIEW - CD: "Groove Merchant"
By various reviewers

REVIEW - CONCERT: John Cocuzzi Quartet in Sac., CA
By Vivian Lee

REVIEW - CONCERT: "Sunday Eve. Jazz" at JB's in Sac., CA
By Vivian Lee

REVIEW - CONCERT: John Cocuzzi for STJS – AATJ
By Judy Hendricks

REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'" – All About Jazz
By Dave Nathan

REVIEW – CD: "Swingin' and Burnin'" – epinions.com
By Mike Holmes

REVIEW – CD: "LIVE! In Cactus Country" – L.A. Jazz Scene
By 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 Trio
By Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter

REVIEW – CD: "We Got Rhythm" by the Big 3 Trio
By 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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John Cocuzzi slideshow

© 2012 Nancy Giffin, incl. Nancy Giffin photos
Live Music Performance and Event Production — Vibraphone/Piano/Drums/Vocals