Jazz pianist John Colianni, a 1981 graduate of Atlantic City High School, attracts the attention of great guitar players.
When Colianni, 48, last performed in Atlantic City more than six years ago, he was breaking in a new jazz trio that featured John "Bucky" Pizzarelli, who played in the Doc Severinson Band on NBC's "Tonight Show" for many years.
From 6 to 10 tonight and Aug. 5, Colianni plays at Ono Chinese Bistro in the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.
Mike Boone, of Philadelphia, who was formerly the bassist for the late Buddy Rich's Big Band during the 1980s, will accompany Colianni. Popular music standards, musicals, jazz standards and Colianni's original compositions will be played.
Colianni, who now lives in Weehawken, Hudson County, comes to town with a new CD, titled "On Target." He also appears on the new jazz-rock fusion disc "Montgomery," with The Larry Coryell Trio. He also plays piano and is the musical director of an upcoming jazz release by rocker Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band.
Colianni met Coryell and Miller when they were guest artists with the Les Paul Trio in New York City.
"He (Miller) is a very convincing jazz performer," Colianni said. "He had me come out to his massively appointed recording studio, which is on the grounds of his rambling estate in Ketchum, Idaho. We spent about 10 days working on this album, that was a few years ago. He's been refining the vocal tracks ever since. He's just informed me that it is ready to be released."
Colianni, a former Ventnor resident, did two sold-out shows with Miller last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The pianist's return to Atlantic City is due to the Atlantic Club and Grammy Award-winning producer Joseph A. Donofrio, of Brigantine. Operators of the Atlantic Club called Donofrio for booking suggestions when the venue wanted to start a jazz series.
"We have the good fortune of operating several dining venues on property that lend themselves well to the intimate performance styles of jazz, which we are featuring in Ono, and blues, which we are featuring in the Burger Bar," said Michael Frawley, the Atlantic Club COO. "Additionally, we also realized there are too few opportunities in Atlantic City to enjoy really good jazz and blues music."
The Atlantic Club told Donofrio it wanted jazz players with marquee value, Donofrio said.
"John Colianni, I've known him for years. He's a marvelous player and all the work he has done with Les Paul, among other people, and his own CDs," Donofrio said. "He said he would be delighted to come down because his parents (James and Patricia Colianni, of Galloway Township) live in the area. They call him Johnny Chops because he's very fluid. He's a very fluid, really fine, fine technician."
Contact Vincent Jackson:
Pianist John Colianni and bassist Mike Boone perform 6 to 10 tonight and
Aug. 5 at Ono Chinese Bistro in The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Other performers include pianist Alex Brown and bassist Zack Brown on July 8. Pianist Jim Ridl and bassist Andy Lalasis perform July 15. The series is booked until Sept. 2. Happy Hour deals include half-price appetizers. For more information, call 609-347-7111.