Montreal International Jazz Festival presents

John Pizzarelli

The guitarist and singer has been hailed by the Boston Globe for “reinvigorating the Great American Songbook and re-popularizing jazz.” Established as one of the prime contemporary interpreters of the Great American Songbook, Pizzarelli has expanded that repertoire by including the music of Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Antônio Carlos Jobim and the Beatles.

John Pizzarelli has dedicated many of his albums to the great songwriters and performers who have helped to establish the Great American Songbook and the pop music canon: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Richard Rodgers, and Duke Ellington. With his new album, Pizzarelli and his remarkable new trio cast a wider net to explore other sources for the most immortal songs of the past century: the Broadway stage and the silver screen.

Released this past April, on Palmetto Records, Pizzarelli’s Stage & Screen finds inspiration in classic songs from Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. The cleverly chosen repertoire spans nearly nine decades, starting with a pair of songs from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette (I Want To Be Happy and Tea For Two) and leading into the 21st century with I Love Betsy from Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon in Vegas – a stage musical based on the 1992 film. In between there are pieces by such iconic songwriters and composers as Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, Sammy Cahn, and Jule Styne, and songs immortalized in cinema favorites like Casablanca.

He’s joined for the occasion by his new trio featuring bassist Mike Karn and pianist Isaiah J. Thompson, two tremendous talents with whom Pizzarelli quickly discovered a scintillating chemistry, even with a two-year disruption to their touring schedule. While Karn has been working with Pizzarelli for the last seven years, Thompson joined the trio only three years ago, in late December 2019. A few months later his tenure was interrupted by the pandemic, only for the band to pick up again in August 2021. Stage & Screen was recorded a few short months later, but the band sounds like it’s logged years on the road.

“This is a great little group, and I can go to a lot of different places with Mike and Isaiah,” Pizzarelli raves. He was in the market for a new bassist in 2015, while thinking about a return to small group playing and, in particular, a drumless trio. He asked two friends, trombonist John Mosca and saxophonist Harry Allen, for recommendations. The one name common to both lists was Mike Karn.

“The idea of taking these songs out of the context of their shows or movies was interesting to me,” Pizzarelli says. “With a new arrangement you can change the meaning of a song. That’s what we’ve been doing all of our lives as jazz musicians – trying to figure out how to make these classic songs different, whether it’s a Songbook standard or a Beatles hit. It’s always a lot of fun.”

John Pizzarelli will perform at Theatre Maisonneuve on July 8 at 8pm. For tickets please visit: or call 514-842-2112