Written by Patrick Jarenwattananon from WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center
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.