Jazz Guitarist/Singer John Pizzarelli Headlines Skaneateles Arts Council Gala
John Pizaarelli, lauded by the Los Angeles Times as “madly creative” and by The Toronto Star as “the genial genius of the guitar,” will perform July 25 at “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream,” the annual gala of the Skaneateles Area Arts Council.
Festivities will be held lakeside at the Stella Maris Retreat and Renewal Center, a former Roosevelt mansion on Skaneateles Lake. The program will run from 6 to 10 p.m. and include cocktails; dining al fresco by Chris Kuhns, executive chef of Phoebe’s Restaurant and the Sherwood Inn; and an intimate concert by Pizzarelli.
Skaneateles residents Jean McGlynn and Fouad Dietz are co-chairs of the gala. Dr. Robert Kiltz, owner of CNY Healing Arts and CNY Fertility Centers, is the artist sponsor. Proceeds will support the Arts Council’s cultural events and community grants program.
John Pizzarelli has established himself as a prime interpreter of the Great American Songbook, drawing from performers such as Nat “King” Cole (his hero), Frank Sinatra and Joao Gilberto and composers such as Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, James Taylor, and Lennon and McCartney. In 2009 he received the prestigious Ella Fitzgerald Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Pizzarelli, who has recorded more than 20 albums since his first release in 1990, started playing the guitar at the age of 6, following in the tradition of his father, guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli. He often plays with his father and his wife, singer/actress Jessica Molaskey, in the John Pizzarelli Trio, a group that has been called “the First Family of Cool” by the San Francisco Chronicle and “the von Trapps on Martinis” by The New Yorker.
Pizzarelli’s early works, for RCA, include “Dear Mr. Cole” and “P.S. Mr. Cole,” as well as “After Hours” (a touching cycle of torch ballads), “Our Love Is Here to Stay” (a collection of classic swing and bold originals), “Let’s Share Christmas” and “John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles.”
More recently, for Telarc International, he has recorded “Kisses in the Rain,” “Let There Be Love,” “The Rare Delight of You,” “Live at Birdland” (celebrating the 10th anniversary of the John Pizzarelli Trio), “Knowing You” (paying homage to the many talented musicians and songwriters he has met over the years) and “Dear Mr. Sinatra” (featuring the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra).
His 2008 album, the Grammy Award nominated “With a Song in My Heart,” celebrates the music of legendary composer Richard Rodgers. This past February, he released “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” a tribute to Duke Ellington.
A veteran radio personality, Pizzarelli is host, with his wife, of “Radio Deluxe With John Pizzarelli,” a nationally syndicated radio program that takes place in their “deluxe living room high atop Lexington Avenue” and features relaxed, off-the-cuff music and conversations.
Pizzarelli has performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show With David Letterman,” “Live With Regis & Kelly,” “The CBS Early Show” and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
He also performs annually at New York City’s famed Café Carlyle with Jessica Molaskey and at Birdland with his jazz combo, while touring throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Japan.
The mansion that is now Stella Maris Retreat and Renewal Center, a ministry sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, was originally owned by Frederick Roosevelt, who had it built in 1879. The Sisters of St. Francis purchased the property in 1952, and in 1954 it was blessed and dedicated as a retreat center by Bishop Walter A. Foery.
“Stella Maris” is Latin for “Star of the Sea.” The center is committed to the mission of leading all to a deeper knowledge and love of God, and to fostering spiritual growth, renewal and peace.
The Skaneateles Area Arts Council, a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization, works to celebrate the visual and performing arts by creating an environment where cultural activity thrives in our community. The council presents cultural programming and issues grants to artists and arts organizations in the Skaneateles area.
This year’s grant recipients are the CNY Jazz Foundation; the John D. Barrow Art Gallery; the Khoros Performing Arts Company for Kids, Joanna Manring; Pamela Spear; the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center; Skaneateles Artisans; the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce; the Skaneateles Festival; Skaneateles Summer Theatre; and the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
Tickets are $250 for VIP seating, $125 for regular seating, and may be purchased by sending a check to the Skaneateles Area Arts Council, P.O. Box 422, Skaneateles, NY 13152. Advance purchase is required for all seating. For more information, go to http://www.skarts.org.