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Bucky Pizzarelli

One of the top living swing-based guitarists, Bucky Pizzarelli has been a fixture on the jazz and studio scenes since the 1950s. Born in 1926 in Paterson, New Jersey, he learned the guitar and banjo as a youth. His first major job was with the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra when he was 17, playing with the dance band during 1943-51, except for a period spent in the Army during World War II. In 1952 he joined the staff of NBC, switching to ABC in 1964. Pizzarelli appeared on a countless number of recording sessions, radio and television shows and soundtracks. At the same time he was constantly active in the jazz world where his tasteful swing solos, often on his seven-string guitar, were a throwback to George Van Eps, Carl Kress and to a lesser extent Django Reinhardt. Pizzarelli was in an early version of the Three Sounds during 1956-57 with Gene Harris and Andy Simpkins, and had many tours with Benny Goodman through the years.

In the 1970s, Pizzarelli was heard much more in jazz settings than previously, co-leading a duo with fellow guitarist George Barnes, working and recording with Stephane Grappelli, Zoot Sims and Bud Freeman, and leading his own record dates. One of his records included his daughter Mary Pizzarelli, a classical guitarist, as a guest. His son, guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli, often appeared with Bucky in the 1980s before launching his own band, and his other son, bassist Martin Pizzarelli, also recorded with Bucky before joining John’s trio. Bucky Pizzarelli has had many musical reunions with his sons ever since, in addition to recording albums of his own including most recently for Arbors.