John Pizzarelli, jazz guitarist to perform at St. Matthew's

If you have never dared enter a jazz club, an artist set to perform as part of The Arts at St. Matthew’s on Sunday, Feb. 22, says he’s got quite an experience for you.

John Pizzarelli, a highly regarded jazz guitarist, says his shows are perfect for those who have yet to appreciate the sounds of jazz.

“It’s a great show,” he said, “because we communicate what we do really well. Some people are scared by the word jazz, but we’re an excellent group at communicating the art form.

“We have people come up to us after this show and say ‘I don’t like jazz, but I like what you guys do.’”

His performance at St. Matthew’s will focus on the music of popular artists as “touchstones,” Mr. Pizzarelli said, a platform that further communicates his band’s vision.

“The show centers around swing jazz, with artists like Nat King Cole and Benny Goodman. That’s who we use as touchstones, it’s the foundation of what we do. I think it’s an entertaining event for anyone,” the guitarist said.

Of jazz, Mr. Pizzarelli said he has been encouraged in recent years by the influx of young people taking up the art.

“My piano player is 26, my drummer is 35, and I’ve gone to a bunch of colleges and it’s amazing that there is so much going on,” he said. “The idea of learning jazz has gotten better from middle schools, to high schools, to colleges. They’re all getting better at teaching it now. I think it’s fantastic.”

He said such an uptick in interest may be the result of new generations getting bored with contemporary music.

“Jazz is whatever you want to make it,” Mr. Pizzarelli said. “You find songs you can translate into your style, and I don’t think there’s a question of purity. It’s all about translation. Jazz has always been the unexpected.

“When guys cover songs [in rock music], they cover everything including the guitar solo. They do the exact same thing. In jazz, you recreate and reinvent it.”

The artist’s father, Bucky Pizzarelli, is also a well-known jazz artist who has regularly performed in Wilton. Over the course of his career, he performed with the likes of Les Paul, and Benny Goodman, himself.

“He’s up there a lot, he plays anywhere anyone lets him,” the younger Mr. Pizzarelli said with a laugh. “We all sort of were friends with the Brubecks, and we opened for them a bunch of times.”

The Arts at St. Matthew’s concert will take place on Sunday, Feb. 22, from 8 to 11 p.m. The concert will feature John Pizzarelli on guitar,  his brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Kevin Kanner on the drums, and Konrad Paszkudzki on piano.

For tickets and more information, visit artsatstmatthews.org or call 203-762-7400.