OK, let’s acknowledge right up front that the dye job’s a little creepy, while the whole “I’m from Joisey” schtick we associate him with could use some Botox, or cyanide, even.
Not as a comedian whose routine includes a parody of Frank Sinatra one of his more memorable skits on SNL but as a legit jazz singer who does a Sinatra tribute as part of musical act that’s, naturally, sprinkled with humor.
“Nobody knows that,” Red Bank Jazz Orchestra director Joe Muccioli says of Piscopo’s love of jazz, and his ability to serve it up. “But he’s been doing this for years. And he’d got pipes.”
On Saturday, June 21, expect to see some disbelieving faces pressed against the windows of the Rivers Edge Café on Broad Street, when Piscopo rolls into the eatery for two performances.
The shows are part of the Summer Jazz Series arranged by the Jazz Arts Project, of which Muccioli is the artistic director. And they came about through Muccioli’s night job, as orchestra conductor for Piscopo’s current run of shows that run through the end of July Resorts Atlantic City.
Piscopo, who’s already a member of Jazz Arts Project’s honorary board, just happened to have an opening in his schedule on the one weekend in the series for which the organizers only had access to the restaurant for a single night. Muccioli asked the comedian, er, entertainer if he’d travel up the Parkway to play Red Bank, and was surprised to get a ‘yes’ back.
Instead of the 16-piece band that Muccioli conducts for Piscopo in Atlantic City, the River’s Edge show will feature a trio that includes singer/pianist Tony DeSare, who himself headlined the series this past weekend.
The series so far has been laced with big names from the jazz world Bucky Pizzarelli sat in over the past weekend with DeSare. But Piscopo is a “big, splashy name” who organizers hope will bring attention to the non-profit jazz effort.
Piscopo himself plays flute, sax, piano and drums, and can be expected to dabble with one or more in performance, Muccioli says.
Jazz Arts officials are also hinting that Piscopo may be back later this year at a “much larger venue” in town than the River’s Edge Café, though they’re being coy about details. So stay tuned, Piscopolians.
Tickets for the Summer Jazz series are usually $40 with dinner and $25 without. Organizers weren’t sure this afternoon what the Piscopo shows would go for, though they expected the dinner option to be priced at $55 or $60. Reservations are required: call 732.741.7198.