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465 N McClurg Ct, Chicago, IL 60611, USA


About the event

Johnny O'Neal - piano, voice

Dennis Carroll - bass

Charles Heath - drums

“My jaw dropped when I heard him play piano — and then my heart dropped when I heard him sing.”

-- guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel

"There are so many outstanding things about Johnny’s playing. Two or three of the most outstanding: number one, the touch. Johnny has a million dollar touch. Very few people touch the piano like that to get that kind of sound and feeling... The other thing is his feeling of swing, which is so natural. Then there’s Johnny’s personality, so engaging. And Johnny can play a ballad like few people, if any. I’ve always held his talent in the highest regard, and I think he’s a very special artist." -- pianist Mulgrew Miller

A consummate pianist, vocalist and entertainer, Johnny O’Neal is considered a “master” by fellow musicians and audiences the world over. No wonder he was selected to play the part of piano virtuoso Art Tatum in the 2004 Academy Award-winning film Ray. He has performed in some of the world’s most renowned music venues, making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985 on solo piano, opening for Oscar Peterson, and was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998.

A Detroit native, Johnny’s enormous musical gifts were immediately apparent to jazz icon Ray Brown and led to his 1983 debut album “Coming Out.” Stints with Ray Brown, Milt Jackson and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers soon followed. While playing with Blakey, he accompanied some of the great jazz divas, including Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. Johnny has also been tapped for appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Nancy Wilson, Anita O’Day, Lionel Hampton, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Stitt, Benny Golson, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Clark Terry, among others. Performances on the festival circuits in Europe, Australia, Japan and South Africa have gained him an international following.

Johnny admits to loving to shout the blues, but calls himself a piano player first. Astonishingly, he is largely self-taught. His playing evokes the influences imbued in him by his idols Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, and he has reshaped these elements into his own very swinging and melodic approach. In live performances, he is apt to catch his audience off-guard with his soulfully rendered yet unpretentious vocalizations.

Johnny explains, “I’m a tune guy. I know 1,500 songs. My father was a pianist and singer who emphasized that learning lyrics creates dynamics and a better interpretation of melody. I rehearse so that the bassist, drummer and I can get familiar with each other’s styles—not to set the songs we’ll play. Jazz is the highest level of performance because it’s instant composition. I like to be spontaneous and respond to cues from the audience.”

Price Range

$27 - $32

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Useful Info

Live Event
465 N McClurg Ct, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Small Theater
Family Friendly for all ages

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