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John Colianni

John Colianni is a pianist-arranger-composer, based in Philadelphia and NYC. Raised in suburban Maryland, John was a pupil of Lester Karr, who imparted Classical technique with studies of the Matthay method. John duly came to the attention of Ella Fitzgerald's bassist Keter Betts, who guided the young pianist  - still a teen - to his first professonal gigs (1970s-80s).  There followed a three-year stint, touring internationally and recording, with Jazz great Lionel Hampton's orchestra.  Shortly thereafter, John was finalist and cash prize winner in the 1st Thelonus Monk Piano Competition. In quick succession, Colianni was then signed with Concord Records (for whom he released three albums), then did a stint with film icon Woody Allen's traditional Jazz band (1980s). In 1991, John was then hired by Jazz vocal great Mel Torme,  touring and recording with Mel for a period of five years (1990s). In the 2000s, John was featured in the trio of  guitar great Les Paul, from 2003 til Les's death in 2009. During this period John also recorded and performed with Jazz vocalist Anita O'Day. John then toured for over a year each with Steve Miller ("Fly Like An Eagle") and guitarist Larry Coryell (2010s). Presently, John tours and records with his own Trio and Big Band, with cd releases on various US and European labels (2021 release: "Ahead Of The Crowd", Patuxent Records). John was also house pianist on the MSNBC program "Late Night W Dan Abrams", and can be heard on the score of the feature film "Revolutionary Road."


Thelonius Monk Piano Competition - Cash Prize Winner 


Read what the jazz world has to say about John… “Tremendous piano jazz … a phenomenal show stopper … technical skill, warmth, application and understanding.” Jazz Journal International (London) “He has a smooth, light-touch style. He flies easily through intricate right-hand melodic lines, and improvises on them, and roams the bass clef with his left hand, combining basic and offbeat rhythms with rich, melodic chord patterns. His left hand harmonic structures are most impressive.” San Francisco Examiner “Consummate piano virtuoso … truly individual voice … unerring sense of sophisticated swing.” Jazz Times “Colianni's sound and conception is American to the bone; from New Orleans boogie through to jump blues, stride and Basie swing, he not only knew them all but frequently sounded like he was playing all of them at once.” The Guardian (England) “He is the essence of a swinging pianist … a sudden flurry of complex runs can be finished before the listener is fully aware of what is happening.” The New York Times “Impeccably disciplined, a limitless cauldron full of ideas … eye-opening intensity … effortless swing - Tatumesque.” Toronto Star “The best you'll ever hear.” Mel Torme "The essence of a swinging pianist … a sudden flurry of complex runs can be finished before the listener is fully aware of what is happening." The New York Times "Acoustic modernist absorbing the pianism of Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson." Jazziz “A brilliant pianist, composer, arranger with exquisite taste, great technique, charming, witty, he has much to bring to the table” and he's got rhythm

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Johnny Chops

Patuxent Music




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