Jack Kleinsinger Highlights In Jazz: In Memory of Bucky Pizzarelli

Article Contributed by Jazz Promo Services | Published on Sunday, April 5, 2020

Highlights in Jazz producer Jack Kleinsinger offers condolences to the Pizzarelli family,  and joins the music community at large in mourning the death of the legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, on April 1, at age 94. 
The venerable master of the seven-string guitar was an in-demand studio musician who recorded with stars including Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan and countless others. He was an alumnus of the Tonight Show and Dick Cavett show bands, and a collaborator with musicians as diverse as Benny Goodman, Les Paul, Stéphane Grappelli, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Ben E. King, and Dion and the Belmonts. “He did everything,” Kleinsinger says. “His real strength was as a rhythm guitarist, but he was a great soloist too. He was amazing!”
Meeting Bucky Pizzarelli was a life changer for Jack Kleinsinger. The two met at a jazz party in Colorado in 1972, and it seemed inevitable that they would hit it off. After all, at the time Bucky and Jack looked so much alike that many of their fellow partiers thought they were members of the same family. 
They roomed together in Colorado, and before long Bucky encouraged Jack to buy a club or rent a hall to put on shows himself. “Bucky said that since I love jazz so much and get along with musicians so well, I should do something about it. He told me to put on a few shows and get it out of my system,” Jack recalls. “He gave me another piece of advice: Keep your day job!”
Kleinsinger took Bucky’s words seriously on both counts. When he produced his first concert in 1973, the guitarist was on the lineup and appeared at a total of 35 Highlights In Jazz events in the decades since then. “I could always count on him, Bucky was one of my go-to people. He was so good to me, without him there would be no Highlights In Jazz.” Jack didn’t quit his day job, and he never got his love of jazz and producing concerts out of his system.  “Almost 50 years later, I’m still doing it and still enjoying it,” he notes.
As their friendship strengthened over the years, “Bucky became like a family member. He played at my parents’ 50thwedding anniversary; he attended my father’s funeral. John Pizzarelli—also a great guitarist—made his first Highlights In Jazz appearance as a surprise guest when he was just 15 years old,” Kleinsinger recalls. “My life has been so enriched by knowing Bucky Pizzarelli and his family. He was an amazing guy; I’m going to miss him. It’s a real loss.” 
Kleinsinger plans to produce a concert to pay tribute to the revered guitarist as part of the 49th season of the Highlights In Jazz series in 2021.