Johnny O'Neal: Live at Mezzrow After decades off the scene, the old-school virtuoso pianist and singer is re-establishing himself in New York. Every week, he welcomes guest performers to one of the city's smallest rooms.

Johnny O'Neal: Live at Mezzrow

Johnny O'Neal And Friends In Concert

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Johnny O'Neal performs at Mezzrow. NPR hide caption

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Johnny O'Neal performs at Mezzrow.


Pianist and singer Johnny O'Neal never learned to read music, but didn't really need to: He was one of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and even convincingly imitated the fast-fingered Art Tatum in the biopic Ray. Now, after decades off the scene — and with his health under control — he's re-establishing himself in New York as an incredible old-school performer.

Jazz Night in America visits him in one of New York's most intimate rooms: The new 30-person basement room Mezzrow. O'Neal plays there every Monday night, where we find him welcoming special guests to the stage.

Set List

  • "Born To Be Blue" (Tormé/Wells)
  • "In Good Hands" (O'Neal)
  • "Stardust" (Carmichael/Parish)
  • "Fee Fi Fo Fum" (Wayne Shorter)
  • "Ray's Idea" (Ray Brown)
  • "I'm Your Mailman" (based on "Bye Bye Blackbird" by Ray Henderson)
  • "Teardrops In The Rain" (Bennett/Tepper)
  • Blues Medley/"Every Day I Have The Blues" (Memphis Slim)


Johnny O'Neal, piano and voice; Luke Sellick, bass. With Stacy Dillard, soprano saxophone; Brianna Thomas, voice; Tivon Pennicott, tenor saxophone; Ben Paterson, piano; Carlos Abadie, trumpet.