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Johnny Guarnieri

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Johnny Guarnieri (23 March 1917–7 January 1985) was an American virtuoso jazz and stride pianist, born in New York City, perhaps best-known for his big band stints with Benny Goodman in 1939 and with Artie Shaw[ in 1940. Guarnieri is also noted for his embellishment and juxtaposition of jazz with classical piano, such as Scarlatti and Beethoven.

Throughout the 1940s Guarnieri was a busy sideman, recording with artists such as Charlie Christian[/artist, Cozy Cole, Ike Quebec, Charlie Kennedy, Hank D’Amico and Ben Webster. He also led his own group called the “Johnny Guarnieri Swing Men” and recorded with them on the Savoy label, a group that included Lester Young, Hank D’Amico, Billy Butterfield and Cozy Cole. He also led a trio in the 1940s composed of himself, Slam Stewart and Sammy Weiss, recording again for Savoy. During the 1940s he also recorded for the short-lived Majestic label playing solo piano and with his trio.

In 1949 Guarnieri recorded an album with
June Christy titled June Christy & The Johnny Guarnieri Quintet. Guarnieri has recorded with numerous artists, and in his later years he shifted more toward jazz education. In commemoration of his reputation as a teacher, Guarnieri’s students financed a label for him called Taz Jazz Records.

In the 1970s Guarnieri recorded numerous albums on his new label, and until 1982 worked “Tail of the Cock” nightclub in Studio City, California. He died onstage during a performance with Dick Sudhalter.

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