Frank Puzzullo

jazz pianist



Frank Puzzullo is a jazz pianist, composer and jazz educator. His most recent album was recorded in 2011, and consists of original compositions by Frank.

Puzzullo, a native of Syracuse, NY, was a youth when upstate New York was a hot bed for jazz. After high school, he played semi-pro baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm team, and worked in the off season as a pianist accompanying the big name entertainment that came to Syracuse. He worked with Chuck Mangione, Woody Herman and Buddy Rich, then went on to complete undergraduate and master’s degrees in music education from Murray State University in Kentucky.

In the 1970s he headed to New Orleans where he was pianist with the Al Belletto Band, performing regularly at the Playboy Club. He also performed with Al Hirt and recorded with Pete Fountain. Loyola University in New Orleans asked Puzzullo to head its jazz department, where he developed its Jazz Study Major. He then went to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and developed its Jazz Study Major.

For 23 years, Puzzullo appeared in the New Orleans Jazz Festival and headlined various jazz festivals. Some of the artists he has performed with include Ira Sullivan, John Faddis, and Dizzy Gillespie. He also performed with Al Hirt at the New Orleans World’s Fair.

In the last decade he has performed with artists such as Chuck Mangione, Red Holloway, James Moody, James Spaulding, Bob Mintzer, Marvin Stamn, Alex Sipiagin, Bob Sheppard, Billy Drummond, and Rufus Reid.

From 1982 to 2011 Puzzullo was Associate Professor of Music Education (Jazz Studies) at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. He developed the school's jazz minor. He also developed an “Art of Jazz” Series where numerous artist are presented in concert.

In 2012, Frank relocated to Charleston, SC, where he performs locally and regionally.


“Puzzullo's album is keeping the flame alive with his cooking take-no-prisoners quintet... Buselli's playing is relaxed and flowing, and Fusco's alto sax complements Puzzullo's hard, swinging bebop lines.
Bob Bowman's bass and Joel Spencer's drums have driving swing and bop accents that propel the quintet to a high level. Opening track "You Do" is a freewheeling bebop romp that sets the tone for the whole record. Puzzullo's solo shows his reflective and sensitive side on the ballad ‘Spring is Here’.”
-Chuck Workman, NUVO

“I have been in the business about 46-7 years. I have worked with Louis Armstrong, Sinatra, Crosby, Ellington, Basie. I own a booking agency featuring Quincy Jones and Roberta Flack. I have used Frank Puzzullo with some of the people I book.The fact that I let him play with Milt Jackson speaks to how I feel about him. I have worked with the best and I don't spend time with anyone who can't play… Frank has the ability to play professional jazz. Not many who are in colleges have that ability. Frank is able to play jazz and can transmit that to his students. As a jazz player, Frank is near the top. You cannot teach jazz unless you know something about it. Frank does. You need also to use your ears. He associates and plays with jazz people. He can hold his own in New York or Chicago.”
-Ray Brown
Renowned bassist

“…Frank is among the handful of great jazz pianists working today. At the 'Jazz at the Civic' concert, Frank displayed his mastery of the jazz line exploring harmonic sublets contrapuntally and at a dexterity and velocity only approached by the likes of Phineas Newborn and Oscar Peterson.”
-Michael Cunningham
Jazz at the Civic Concert Series, Lafayette, IN

“Cornetist Nat Adderly, along with tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico and pianist Frank Puzzullo walked through a set of bluesy jazz standards in a thoroughly craftsmanlike way… The heat of the night, however, came from the rhythm section. Pianist Puzzullo… got shouts and applause he deserved. Twice during his solos the rest of the band dropped out entirely, leaving him, as Adderly quipped, 'in deep water, and he showed he knew how to swim out of it.' …He turned his 'deep water' solo on Monk's 'Straight, No Chaser' from heady bop to a gutsy gospel romp, full of rich, lower register harmonies, and then built back again to the straightaway.”
-Review, Press Connection
Madison, WI

Professional Employment

Ball State University School of Music, Muncie, IN
Professor Emeritus, 2011 – Present
Associate Professor of Music Education / Jazz Studies, 1982 – 2011
• Taught Research Methods; Jazz Improvisation; Jazz History; Jazz Arranging; Jazz Piano/Keyboard; Applied Jazz Piano
• Coordinated the Jazz Combo Program
• Developed the Music Education Component (Jazz Study Minor)
• Developed the Music Education Degree Program (Jazz Emphasis)

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Music
Assistant Professor of Music Education / Jazz Studies, 1978-82
• Developed a Jazz Study Major, B.M. Music Education (Jazz Emphasis)
• Developed courses including How to Listen to Jazz; Jazz in Society; Perspectives of Jazz; Popular Music and Jazz

Loyola University, New Orleans, LA
Assistant Professor of Music Education / Jazz Studies, 1975-78
• Researched and developed a Jazz Study Major; school now offers a Music Education degree (Jazz Emphasis) in Jazz Studies

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Instructor of Theory / Music Education, 1974-1976

Performances & Creative Endeavors

2019 - present
• Performs solo piano weekly at the Establishment Restaurant.
• Performs at local and regional jazz clubs and other venues; Good Times, Savannah, GA; Grill 225; Forte Jazz Club; Dewberry Hotel.
• Upcoming concert at Art of Jazz Series, Gibbes Museum, Charleston, SC.

2015 – 2018
• Performed at local and regional jazz clubs; How Art Thou, Lex 18, Grill 225, Isis Jazz, and Charleston Jazz Festival.
• Performed weekly at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Charleston, SC with the Frank Puzzullo/Jon Thornton Trio.

• Performed at The Mezz, Mercato, Charleston Grill, High Cotton, Hall’s Chophouse, Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill solo piano with Jazz Quartet on Wednesdays , Charleston, SC.
• Performed at Westin Hotel with Ben Tucker, bassist, Savannah, GA.
• Performed at Heidi’s Jazz Club, Cocoa Beach, FL.
• Teaches jazz piano at Fox Music, Charleston, SC.

• Clinics, workshops and concerts nationally and internationally, 1995-2012
Frank Puzzullo Trio, numerous performances including those at Malibu on Maryland, Indianaoplis. IN
• Developed the Art of Jazz Series at Ball State University in 1986
• Performed with artists: Ira Sullivan, trumpeter, tenor saxophonist; Ernie Watts, tenor saxophonist; James Moody, saxophonist; Ray Brown, bassist; Jhon Faddis, trumpeter; Bill Watrous, trombonist; Ellis Marsalis, piano; Conte Candoli, trumpeter, and the late Dizzy Gillespie, trumpeter, 1982-2012
• Appeared with Chuck Mangione, trumpeter; Red Holloway, alto saxophonist; James Spaulding, Harold Jones, Dick Sisto, David Young, 1991-1999
• Played piano and taught summers at the Missouri Jazz Residency in Springfield, MO. The camp is a modified version of the Stan Kenton Camp, 1985-92
• Performed at the New Orleans Jazz Heritage Festival, 1971-1996
• Performed at the 1984 New Orleans World Fair with Al Hirt

• Served as “house pianist” at the Milwaukee Jazz Gallery
• Worked with such keynote figures as Curtis Fuller, trombonist; Richie Cole, alto saxophonist, and the late Eddie Jefferson, vocalist
• Several appearances with Nat Adderly, cornetist and James Moody, saxophonist
• Performed numerous concerts at the Jazz Showcase, renowned jazz club, in Chicago, IL through Mr. Joe Segal, jazz entrepreneur and owner
• Other performances included those with the late Sonny Stitt, alto saxophonist; Dizzy Reece, trumpeter; Roy Haynes, drummer; Clifford Jordon, tenor saxophonist; Red Hollway, alto saxophonist; Sal Nistico, tenor saxophonist; Milt Jackson, vibrophonist; Al Grey, trombonist; and Pepper Adams, baritone saxophonist

• Performed with Ray Brown, bassist, and worked as a liaison for Ray Brown through his agency, Delido Artists, and in conjunction with him, was the house pianist at Lu & Charlie’s, a jazz club, New Orleans, LA.
• Performed with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, tenor saxophonist; Harry “Sweets” Edison, trumpeter; Blue Mitchell, trumpeter; Ernestine Anderson, vocalist; Harold Land, saxophonist; and Art Pepper, alto saxophonist.
• Performed regularly as a member of the Al Belletto Sextet at the Playboy Club
• Other performances with Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and various local New Orleans musicians
• Played the Memphis Tennessee Jazz Festival and accompanied Anita O'Day, vocalist 1965-70
• Performed regularly with Chuck Mangione, Sal Nistico, Joe LaBarbera, Sam Noto, Steve Gadd and a host of other notable Upstate New York jazz artists

• Performed with the Buddy Rich Band, Woody Herman Band and was accompanist for Gloria Lynn and Dakota Staton

• Performed with Sonny Stitt, alto saxophonist, at the Plug Nickel, Chicago


Doctoral Equivalency, Applied Music, Ball State University, 1984

M.M. Ed., Murray State University, 1969

B.M. Ed., Murray State University, 1967

Related Studies - Purdue University, State University of New York, University of New Orleans, Berklee School of Music