John Pisano has been formally recognized as one of the nation’s finest guitarists. He has an extremely diverse background, having emerged on the jazz scene in the mid-50′s, first recording in 1958 and 1959 with the legendary Billy Bean and a two-year stint with drummer Chico Hamilton (which at one time featured the innovative reedist Eric Dolphy). Even if his name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, odds are that you’ve heard his guitar work. Although John has occasionally stepped forward to lead his own group, for years his “comfort zone” was the background and John became an active member of the Los Angeles studio scene, adding his special touch to groups let by Buddy DeFranco, Red Norvo, Bud Shank and Benny Goodman. Additionally, John has accompanied in concert or recording some of music’s biggest names, including Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Frank Sinatra, Michael Franks, Clare Fischer, Julie London, Bobby Troup, Natalie Cole, Joe Pass Barbra Streisand and Diana Krall. John is a founding member of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and obtained some solid Brazilian experience working with Sergio Mendes. In the last several years, however, Pisano has assumed the leader’s role, releasing a series of Pablo CD’s remarkable for their beauty and musical camaraderie. “Among Friends” was the first, featuring him in duet settings with six of the instrument’s most talented players: Lee Ritenour, Phil Upchurch, Ron Affif, Dori Caymmi, the late Ted Greene, and the late Joe Pass, with whom John had worked extensively for three decades and released more than a dozen albums together (Pass died on May 23, 1994). Pass was also heard on “Duets”, which focused on empathic guitar conversations recorded at a 1991 Pisano/Pass session.

His subsequent album, the Pablo release, “Conversation Pieces”, includes wonderfully varied material from 1994 and ’95 recordings with, once again, Lee Ritenour, Phil Upchurch, Ted Greene, and Dori Caymmi, as well as Joe Diorio and Gene Bertoncini. Eric Miller, who was Pass’s producer in the guitarist’s final years, has also produced all of Pisano’s dates for the label. Most recently, John was featured on Natalie Cole’s album, entitled “Ask A Women Who Knows” and Diana Krall’s platinum recording “The Look Of Love” and the Grammy winning “Live In Paris” available both as a CD and a DVD.

John hosts (and performs at)”John Pisano’s Guitar Night” held Tuesdays at the Sherman Oaks, California club Spazio. This weekly series, which will celebrate its 6th anniversary on September 23, 2003, features a wide range of guitarists and attracts the elite of the L.A. jazz scene. Additionally, John has worked several times at the popular Zinc Bar in lower Manhattan and will be performing this October (2003) at Birdland.

John joined ‘The Great Guitarists’ series with the likes of Gene Bertoncini, Philip Catherine, Herb Ellis and Mundell Lowe on tours of Germany and Italy where they performed to sell-out crowds.

John is the current spokesman and chief endorser for Eastman Guitars and has developed the “John Pisano” Signature Model for Eastman. For nearly 40 years, John Pisano’s playing has provided a model for improvisational creativity, technical excellence, and a seamless blend of jazz and latin elements.

Today, John and his lovely vocalist wife, Jeanne perform together regularly, and are known as “The Flying Pisanos”. Both together and individually, John continues to perform throughout the nation and around the world with today’s biggest musical luminaries.


THE EARLY YEARS


John was born on Staten Island, in 1931. His first influence musically was his father, Americo Pisano. He played guitar and Johns uncle played banjo though never professionally. John found a tune list in his fathers guitar case a few years ago, and  it includes all of the wonderful tunes and standards of his era like In My Solitude and Mood Indigo.

John started on piano at about the age of 10, but  never really cared to practice. It was about 13 when he started on guitar.

He took lessons from a wonderful lady named Cora Fellows. She was into womens liberation long before anyone had put a label on it. She was an authority on Esperanto the international language as well as paying and teaching all of the fretted instruments. She had all of those old Gibson round-hole archtops. She was a good friend of William Foden, who was one of the early composers for the guitar, too.

John started on the Nick Lucas Method, one of the few teaching methods available at that time. He progressed very quickly, and in a couple of months, he was probably the best guitar player on the block! In a few more months, probably the best for his age, on Staten Island!

"I remember listening to Charlie Christian at the time. I had picked up a copy of Solo Flight, and took it to Cora and had her play it, but it was written as being all in eighth notes - very choppy. I couldnt imagine why it didnt sound the same as when Christian played it on the record. I still have that music, pack-rat that I am, with a correct transcription that I made. There were so many mistakes in that sheet music! It was also written an octave lower, which I couldnt figure out. Whoever wrote it didnt realize that the guitar sounded an octave lower.

My first recollection of being intrigued with the sound of the guitar actually came from listening to the Blondie radio show. There was a little two bar guitar break that came in the middle of the shows theme. That was George Van Eps playing the solo. Later on, a guitarist by the name of Perry Botkin did it. I just loved that woody sound.

The other thing that I remember, which may explain my affinity for Brazilian music, would be Carmen Miranda, and Jose Carioca in the old Disney films. The guitars, the rhythms of the music, stuck in my head and surfaced again some years later.

Then I discovered Django Reinhardt. I remember getting one of the old albums, which was made up of four 10 inch 78 RPM records. My fascination with Django lasted for quite a long time. In fact my nickname at the time was Django! I carved that name in a lot of schoolhouse desks. I would copy his solos. I bought all of his records that were available. My cousin was in the merchant marine, and he bought some 78s in Indo-China. He was able to bring me records that were not available in the U.S. at the time. It was very exciting!

I saw him at Carnegie Hall in 1946, when he was touring the U.S. I was all of 15 at the time. Django opened the second half of the show. They presented a guitar to him. It was all de-tuned. The strings were totally loose, and he had to tune it up right on stage!! I close my eyes and I see a Gretsch, like the ones Harry Volpe used to play, with the cats eye sound holes. It was electrified. I can visualize those two fingers. They were all over the guitar. It was amazing. My fascination with Django lasted quite a long time.

Down the street the was a bass player, by the name of John Goodall. He had played or perhaps sat in with the Stan Kenton band. He realized the talent that I had, and said to me, you should listen to some hip stuff! What you're listening to is old-fashioned and corny. So, he turned me on to Kenton, and Bebop.

Finally, I discovered the jazz radio station WOV in New York, and heard Charlie Parker. That explained it all. Birdland had a live broadcast about 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning. I remember recording people off the radio like Tadd Dameron and Fats Navarro with an acetate disc recorder that I owned."


  

THE EARLY YEARS


John was born on Staten Island, in 1931. His first influence musically was his father, Americo Pisano. He played guitar and Johns uncle played banjo though never professionally. John found a tune list in his fathers guitar case a few years ago, and  it includes all of the wonderful tunes and standards of his era like In My Solitude and Mood Indigo.

John started on piano at about the age of 10, but  never really cared to practice. It was about 13 when he started on guitar.

He took lessons from a wonderful lady named Cora Fellows. She was into womens liberation long before anyone had put a label on it. She was an authority on Esperanto the international language as well as paying and teaching all of the fretted instruments. She had all of those old Gibson round-hole archtops. She was a good friend of William Foden, who was one of the early composers for the guitar, too.

John started on the Nick Lucas Method, one of the few teaching methods available at that time. He progressed very quickly, and in a couple of months, he was probably the best guitar player on the block! In a few more months, probably the best for his age, on Staten Island!

"I remember listening to Charlie Christian at the time. I had picked up a copy of Solo Flight, and took it to Cora and had her play it, but it was written as being all in eighth notes - very choppy. I couldnt imagine why it didnt sound the same as when Christian played it on the record. I still have that music, pack-rat that I am, with a correct transcription that I made. There were so many mistakes in that sheet music! It was also written an octave lower, which I couldnt figure out. Whoever wrote it didnt realize that the guitar sounded an octave lower.

My first recollection of being intrigued with the sound of the guitar actually came from listening to the Blondie radio show. There was a little two bar guitar break that came in the middle of the shows theme. That was George Van Eps playing the solo. Later on, a guitarist by the name of Perry Botkin did it. I just loved that woody sound.

The other thing that I remember, which may explain my affinity for Brazilian music, would be Carmen Miranda, and Jose Carioca in the old Disney films. The guitars, the rhythms of the music, stuck in my head and surfaced again some years later.

Then I discovered Django Reinhardt. I remember getting one of the old albums, which was made up of four 10 inch 78 RPM records. My fascination with Django lasted for quite a long time. In fact my nickname at the time was Django! I carved that name in a lot of schoolhouse desks. I would copy his solos. I bought all of his records that were available. My cousin was in the merchant marine, and he bought some 78s in Indo-China. He was able to bring me records that were not available in the U.S. at the time. It was very exciting!

I saw him at Carnegie Hall in 1946, when he was touring the U.S. I was all of 15 at the time. Django opened the second half of the show. They presented a guitar to him. It was all de-tuned. The strings were totally loose, and he had to tune it up right on stage!! I close my eyes and I see a Gretsch, like the ones Harry Volpe used to play, with the cats eye sound holes. It was electrified. I can visualize those two fingers. They were all over the guitar. It was amazing. My fascination with Django lasted quite a long time.

Down the street the was a bass player, by the name of John Goodall. He had played or perhaps sat in with the Stan Kenton band. He realized the talent that I had, and said to me, you should listen to some hip stuff! What you're listening to is old-fashioned and corny. So, he turned me on to Kenton, and Bebop.

Finally, I discovered the jazz radio station WOV in New York, and heard Charlie Parker. That explained it all. Birdland had a live broadcast about 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning. I remember recording people off the radio like Tadd Dameron and Fats Navarro with an acetate disc recorder that I owned."