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John Colianni

John Colianni grew up in the Washington, D.C. metro area and first heard Jazz on swing-era LP re-issues (Ellington, Goodman, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Armstrong, etc.) in his parents' home. A performance by Teddy Wilson in Washington attended by John when he was about 12 years old also left a strong impression, as did a Duke Ellington performance (more later).


In 2006, looking for an outlet for his high velocity piano improvisations, John formed the John Colianni Quintet. In July 2007, the group recorded its first CD, Johnny Chops (Patuxent Records), which was released this year.


Les Paul offered the piano spot in his group to John in August 2003. Les had not used a pianist in his combo since the 1950s and, in looking for suitable candidates, sought the advice of guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who recommended John. In Les Paul's recent autobiography, “Les Paul: In His Own Words,” Les writes an appreciative description of John's playing style and musical contributions to the re-vamped Les Paul Quartet. John is also seen and heard on the PBS documentary, “Les Paul: Chasing Sound.”


Showing keyboard aptitude, a suitable teacher for John was sought by his parents. Local musicians recommended Les Karr, who, in addition to teaching, was well known as an outstanding pianist. Weekly lessons began in the eighth grade, when John was 14. Les Karr himself studied under Teddy Wilson at Juilliard in New York. Les was also the first cousin of pianist Dick Hyman. For John's lessons, Les emphasized technique and introduced studies of the Mathe' System, a method that advances digital dexterity and maximizes the capacity for speedy, high-velocity piano playing. John, noted for fleet “chops,” often cites the important role these exercises play.

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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.”


“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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Johnny Chops

Patuxent Music


Double-D Squad

From: Johnny Chops
By John Colianni



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