Johnny O'Neal

Pianist Johnny O'Neal is a refreshing voice on the jazz scene - but he's no newcomer. He is a ferociously gifted pianist as well as a refreshing, unpretentious singer. Influenced most by such pianists as Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Hank Jones and Errol Garner, O'Neal is an extremely moving musician whose blend of styles (blues, gospel, stride) can take your breath away. He got his start from the likes of Clark Terry and later Art Blakey, with whom he recorded and toured extensively. Other important work ensued with Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan (who wanted him to be her musical director), Ray Brown and Wynton Marsalis.

At 19, O'Neal recorded his first album as leader, which featured bassist Ray Brown and was released by Concord Records. It was after this that he joined Blakey's Messengers, with whom he recorded and toured, exposing his prodigious talents to audiences throughout Europe and Japan.