An Evening of Jazz and Dance

Hi Jazz Fans,

The Orion Trio is pleased to announce our next evening concert and dance with featured artists Valerie Gillespie sax and John DePaola trumpet on Saturday  September 10 at the Savannah Center, 7-9 pm.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.  Valerie and John are regulars with the trio for our noon concerts and have performed in The Villages for many years, and I’m sure by now most of you know you can count on great performances from them.  Personally, I’ve been wanting to hear them together on stage for quite a while.  We will not be playing a noon concert at the Savannah Center in September so this will be the only chance to hear us that month.

The event will be set up similar to our noon shows with the addition of a dance floor.   There will not be a bar like last time but you may BYOB and snacks.  Water and ice will be provided but you will need your own cups.  You can look forward to our normal jazz presentation with many tunes geared toward dancing.

Tickets are $12 and available online or at the door.  To purchase tickets online with a credit card please click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser.  If you experience any problems please email me and we’ll figure it out.  I found this site to work very smoothly for our last evening show.

Thanks so much for your support at our Savannah Center concerts and for signing up to be on our mailing list.  This concert will not be advertised publicly and only those on our mailing lists are receiving this notice, but of course feel free to invite friends and neighbors.  I wish to thank all the people who have helped make this concert possible and I’m looking forward to a show every bit as successful as our first dance concert.  With such an appreciative audience like you inspiring us, it can’t miss.

Regards to all, Tom PZ.


Savannah Center with Valerie Gillespie

Hi Everyone,

We had good show at the Savannah Center at noon July 15 with Valerie Gillespie and the Orion Trio.  Jerry Bruno was on drums and Davis Collister on bass, along with yours truly Thomas Pizzi on keys.  We haven’t seen the room that crowded since the middle of last season and it seemed every table was full, so thank you for the great turnout and to all who signed up for our mailing list.

The Trio opened with the Thelonious Monk tune, “Well You Needn’t” and we brought Valerie on singing “It’s Only a Paper Moon”.  A funk arrangement of Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance” was next, followed by a bossa nova version of the beautiful ballad “I’m Glad There Is You” and an up-tempo “I Remember You” by Johnny Mercer and sung by Valerie.  We played a funk version of another Monk tune by request which Valerie also sang, probably his most well-known, “Round Midnight”, and then a Latin tune by Dizzy Gillespie called “Wachi Wara” (Soul Sauce), on which Valerie played flute.  We finished with the intriguing ballad “Midnight Sun” by Lionel Hampton and sung beautifully by Valerie, and lastly the high energy modal bop tune “Impressions” by John Coltrane.

The band sounded very tight, Valerie played and sang superbly as usual, and I felt we did fair justice to the music by giving each tune it’s own flavor and character.  Each one of these noon shows is always a blast for us because you make us feel appreciated, and it’s a treat for musicians to play to an attentive and receptive audience.  It inspires us to continue to do our best to present creative and entertaining music of the highest quality we can.  If there’s any tunes in particular you’d like us to play, feel free to reply to me.  If it’s too hard for us we’ll play something similar with a lot of the same notes in it.

Next month on Aug. 9 at noon we will have Charlie DeChant on tenor sax with us.  Charlie is from Orlando and has been the sax/keys with the Hall & Oates band for the last 40 years, who were recently inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.  He’s a super smooth player with a great sound, easy going manner and hot riffs, and the band is looking forward to performing with him.

See you there, Tom.

Valerie + trio2

The Orion Trio, July 15, 2016 at the Savannah Center in The Villages, FL . From L, Thomas Pizzi, Jerry Bruno, Davis Collister, Valerie Gillespie.

June 17th concert with Rudy Turner

Hi Folks,

Thanks to all who came to our concert at the Savannah Center at noon on June 17th.  It’s a great compliment to us to sell out a show in The Villages in June.  It seemed everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I thought the band kicked a lot of good energy on stage.  Our featured artist was Rudy Turner, guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire from Ocala FL.  The usual suspects in the trio were Davis Collister on bass, Jerry Bruno on drums, and Thomas Pizzi on keys.

The trio opened with my arrangement of ‘One Note Samba’ by Jobim, and then we brought Rudy up with ‘Secret Love’, followed by a couple George Benson tunes, ‘Breezin’ and his version of ‘On Broadway’.  Rudy sang a very soulful rendition of the ballad ‘My One and Only Love’ and then we played Horace Silver’s ‘Nica’s Dream’ with its haunting minor/major harmonies, ‘Bluesette’ which is a jazz waltz, and Rudy sang a swing version of ‘Autumn Leaves’.  We ended the show with a Groove Holmes tune (whom Rudy used to tour with), title unknown, but it’s an up tempo B-3 organ blues like most of his tunes.  The guys really kicked that one out, special kudos to our rhythm section of Jerry and Davis for swinging so hard.

It’s always a special treat for us to work with Rudy and hear his unique style.  He does some amazing guitar work and also scats along with his solos, which is very difficult to do.  Rudy works a lot as a single act in several fine Ocala restaurants if you ever get a chance to catch him.

Thank you to those who signed up to be on our mailing list and you will be sure to have the latest news on our upcoming performances now.  You can also visit us on Facebook or leave a reply here on this blog to be on our mailing list.  In July we will be joined by Villages favorite Valerie Gillespie on tenor sax and vocals, and in August we’ll be proud to have with us Charlie Dechant on sax, of the Hall & Oates band.  For September the Savannah Center takes a break from the social concerts, and I’m hoping to do another dance/concert then, similar to May’s show at the Legion Hall, so please stay tuned.

Straight ahead, Tom

rudy, davis

Davis Collister and Rudy Turner


The Orion Trio with Rudy Turner.  From left, Thomas Pizzi, Jerry Bruno, Davis Collister, Rudy Turner

The Savannah Center, May 26 2016

Hi Jazz Lovers,
We had another great turnout and concert at the Savannah Center at noon on May 26th, with guest artist Dean Mongerio on tenor sax. This was our second concert with Dean while he is here on vacation from London, UK, the first being the May 16 dance/concert at the Legion Hall. There’s no doubt he’s a world-class saxophonist and it was a special treat for all who heard him. Dean is a featured artist with P. Mauriat Saxophones and gives clinics on their behalf all around the world. He also has a couple hits on Billboard, is the music director for the European production of “Jersey Boys”, and has his own jazz group in London. It was really an honor to share the stage with him and his great sound.

Thomas Pizzi, Jerry Bruno, Davis Collister, Dean Mongerio

The trio opened with ‘Moanin’, a bluesy swing, and brought Dean on stage with ‘Pennies From Heaven’. Then a bossa nova, ‘Song for My Father’ by Horace Silver; ‘Simple Pleasures’ by Spyro Gyra; the hard swinging ‘Caravan’ featuring Jerry Bruno on drums; the beautiful ballad ‘Harlem Nocturne’, which brought out Dean’s huge gorgeous tone; Davis Collister on bass sang Joe Sample’s ‘Put It Where You Want It’ by The Crusaders; the Latin jazz standard ‘Mambo Inn’, as played by Paquito D’Rivera; and we ended with Sonny Rollins’ bebop classic ‘Oleo’, composed over ‘rhythm changes’, which Davis somehow sang and played admirably while Dean played the melody.

Dean Mongerio

Davis singing

Davis Collister

It was a fun concert and we were glad to honor the requests to play the fusion tunes by The Crusaders and Spyro Gyra. If there’s a tune that would be special for you to hear it’s quite possible that given enough time we’ll be able to learn it, if there aren’t too many notes or chords in it. I’m kidding of course, but let us know and we’ll try to play it. Heck, we might even rehearse it first.
I’m still getting comments and emails about the concert at the Legion Hall on 5/16/16, so thank you all very much for your positive feedback and support. I’m very pleased everyone enjoyed the music and dancing so much. After all, that was the main goal. I hope to stage another one soon and of course will keep you apprised.
Special thanks to The Villages News for their article, and TV2 and Villages radio for their coverages of this last show at Savannah. Our next concert is June 17th with the exciting Rudy Turner on guitar and vocals. In July we will feature Valerie Gillespie, and Charlie DeChant in August.

An Evening of Jazz, May 16 2016

Hi All,

Well, we had a great fun show Monday night at the Legion Hall.  Many thanks to all who came and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.  We received lots of nice compliments from the 160 or so in attendance and the added perk of dancing was well-received, judging by the crowded floor.

Personally, I thought the band was pretty darn hot with Dean Mongerio and John Depaola tearing it up on their respective horns, Davis Collister laying down solid bass lines and some cool solos, and the ever-tasteful Jerry Bruno making us sound like a swinging big band.  I even had a couple moments where I surprised myself, wondering where a lick or two came from.  I felt we got more intense as the show went on, and I was sorry to see it end.

The trio opened with ‘Mountain Greenery’ by Richard Rogers, and the quintet played a good variety of styles, some Horace Silver swing, a hybrid ‘How High the Moon/Ornithology’, a couple funk tunes and ballads, some Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington (which naturally packed the dance floor), and quite a bit of Latin jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘Night In Tunisia’.  One of my favorites was the exciting Tito Puente version of ‘Take 5’, which the guys absolutely nailed.  It’s such a treat working with top level pros.  I can put anything in front of them and they make it sound like a million bucks, and with little or no rehearsal I might add.

So, now the first of our evening shows is in the books, and I hope to do more with your continued support.  Please feel free to reply and give me any feedback, critiques or requests to help me make these shows the best I can.  I thought the Legion Hall did a fine job setting up and serving drinks, and overall everything went without a hitch (except for the rain just as you arrived).  Special thanks to Carol Wyant for helping out scanning the E-tickets and to Rich Arenas and Phil Caltabellotta for taking pictures.

Debbie Hurtt assures me there are still a few tickets available for our next show May 26th at the Savannah Center, which will be the trio with Dean Mongerio.  This will be your last chance to hear him this year while he is here on vacation from London, and I’m sure after what you heard last night you’ll be looking forward to this one with Dean.

All the best, Tom PZ

I apologize for the dark pics but I had asked them not to use a flash.

stagecrowdband 2Dancingdacing 3

An Evening of Jazz


The Orion Trio is pleased to announce our first evening concert on Monday May 16, 2016, 7pm at the American Legion Hall, 699 W. Lady Lake Bvd. in Lady Lake.  The hall is on the SE corner of CR466 and Rolling Acres Rd. and seats about 250 at the tables.  There will also be a dance floor, so be prepared to swing to some oldie big band favorites along with our usual mix of tunes.

Our featured artists will be John DePaola on Trumpet and Dean Mongerio on Tenor Sax.  Most of you know John and have seen him perform many times at the Savannah Center with us, most recently on March 18th, and around The Villages for many years.  Dean is a terrific sax player who lives in London, UK and is the Music Director for the European production of “Jersey Boys”.  He also leads a jazz band in London when not on tour with the show.  We are really looking forward to playing with both of these excellent musicians.


John DePaola                                                                       Dean Mongerio

Please be aware you may bring snacks to your table but the Legion Hall does not allow liquids of any kind, not even water, to be brought in.  Anything you wish to drink will be available for purchase there.

Tickets are available online at Ticket Tailor for $12.  To purchase tickets with a credit card please click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser:

If you wish to be on our mailing list and receive regular info about performances, please see the ‘Contact’ page on this blog and drop a note.  You may also keep in touch via Facebook at  Thanks so much for your support at our Savannah Center concerts and signing up to be on our mailing list.  You’re a great jazz audience and the concerts are a blast for us every time.  This concert will not be advertised publicly, so you and your friends will have first dibs at tickets.  Odds are you’ll have a great time listening and dancing to our solid rhythm section of Thomas Pizzi-Piano, Jerry Bruno-Drums and Davis Collister-Bass, and of course our featured artists, John and Dean.

See you at the Savannah Center Apr. 28 at noon with Charlie DeChant, and May 16 at the Legion Hall!

Feb 19, 2016 Concert with Phil Caltabellotta and Bill Neale

On Feb. 19, 2016 the Orion Trio performed another lunchtime concert at the Savannah Center in The Villages, FL.  We featured Phil Caltabellotta on harmonica and recording artist Bill Neale on guitar.  Phil is a world-class virtuoso on his instrument, and Bill is also, having played on many TV shows, film scores and albums.  He was also the guitarist with The Temptations at a very young age.  Davis Collister was on electric bass, Jerry Bruno on drums, and Thomas Pizzi on keyboards.

We opened with Bill on guitar playing “Fly Me to the Moon” and one of his original tunes “Winter Warm-up”.  Then Phil joined us for a mixture of swing, Latin, and ballads such as “The Lady Is a Tramp”, “Here’s That Rainy Day”, and a last minute audible called at the line of scrimmage, “There Will Never Be Another You”.  An enthusiastic sold out crowd of almost 300 were in attendance.  It’s always good to see many familiar faces and friends at these shows, and we thank you for your support.

In the audience also was Bob Benedetto, who lives in Ocala FL and is a highly renown luthier of jazz guitars.  His handmade arch-top guitars are played by many famous guitarists all over the world, and there is one in the Smithsonian Museum’s permanent collection.  His company also builds high quality amplifiers, and guitarist Bill Neale is President of that division.  Bob was kind enough to post pictures of the concert on the Benedetto website, and the Orion Trio is proud to be featured in their ‘News Flash’.  You can visit the link here.

Due to the fact our concerts always sell out quickly and many people who wish to see us don’t get tickets in time, we have decided to offer evening concerts periodically as well.  These will also be at the Savannah Center at 7pm, dates TBD.  To make these shows extra special we will be featuring a 6 piece band, a longer show with two 40 min. sets, and audience members may bring food and drink (alcohol is ok) to their tables.  Tickets will be available through The Villages box office.  These shows will not be advertised in the papers, so if you would like to stay informed please ask to be put on our mailing list, and you’ll be part of the ‘hip’ crowd.

benedetto website

Scenes from the concert as posted on the Benedetto website.



The Orion Trio has been in existence since Fall, 2012 when we made our debut at Garvino’s in Sumpter Landing. It is the lucky meeting of three of the best musicians in The Villages: Jerry Bruno – drums, John Huber – upright bass, and Thomas Pizzi – piano. We are highly experienced professionals, having played all our lives and still enjoy playing. We play traditional jazz standards in a (mostly) traditional jazz fashion. To read our bios, please see the ‘About The Trio’ page. To find out where we are playing, please see our ‘Upcoming Performances’ page. For pictures and recordings, please see the “Media’ page.

Savannah Center, Mar. 24, 2015

Once again the Orion Trio played to a sold out house of 290 people at the Savannah Center on Mar. 24, ’15.  We actually featured two guest artists in this concert, the amazing sounds of Charlie DeChant on Tenor sax and flute, and powerhouse Dave Rudolph on drums, along with trio regular John Huber on bass.  Pianist Thomas Pizzi was interviewed live on The Villages radio just before the performance as well.  Charlie is from Orlando, FL and has been a member of the Hall & Oates band since 1976.  Dave is from Tampa, FL, is a graduate of UCF, and plays regularly with Valerie Gillespie, among others.

The trio opened the show with the tune “Little Linda”, by Spiro Gyra, and brought Charlie onstage with Thelonius Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”.  We went right into a bossa nova/swing version of “I’ll Remember April”, followed by the beautiful ballad “I Loves You Porgy”, from “Porgy & Bess” by George Gershwin.  Then we played the “Work Song”, a minor key blues by Nat Adderly, and the Jobim/Luiz Bonfa bossa nova “Black Orpheus”, with Charlie playing alto flute.  We closed out the show with a medley of three Duke Ellington tunes, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, “Satin Doll”, and “Take the A-Train”.

Because we ran out of time, there were two tunes we didn’t do that we were planning on, but we’ll present them at our next concert on April 30th, featuring the trumpet of John DePaola.

This was a fairly straight ahead jazz concert, nothing fancy, but simply featured marvelous playing by the band, great solos, and spontaneous arrangements.  I’ve learned some people think we rehearse a lot and memorize what we will play for our solos.  Let me assure you we rehearse hardly at all, only for about one hour before the show to agree on how we will begin and end each tune, and nothing in between is prepared in any way.  It’s truly improvised and spontaneous, and none of us know what we will play until we’ve played it.  Just like real jazz.

I’d like to thank Dave Rudolph for graciously stepping in for our drummer Jerry Bruno, who was unexpectedly called out of town a couple days earlier, and many thanks to Charlie DeChant for agreeing to perform with us.  We’ve played with Charlie a few times before, and it seems each time he sounds better than we remember, a wonderful player.  I think everyone who attended enjoyed the show, and hope to see you all at our next dates: Apr. 30 with John Depaola, May 15 and June 11, guests TBD.

John Huber, Charlie DeChant, Thomas Pizzi, Dave Rudolph

John Huber, Charlie DeChant, Thomas Pizzi, Dave Rudolph


Savannah Center, Feb. 26, 2015

On Thursday Feb. 26th, the Orion Trio performed for another sold-out house of almost 300 people.  We featured two most excellent guest artists, Sheryl Genco on violin, and Phil Caltabellotta on harmonica, backed up by John Huber on bass, Jerry Bruno on drums, and Thomas Pizzi on keyboards.

All our concerts are different, but I must say this one was the furthest left of center, so far.  What made it so unusual was the nature of the instrumentation, since violin and harmonica are not generally perceived as jazz instruments.  This, combined with the blending of Latin, Jazz, and Classical genres, added up to a big experiment on our part.  The mix seemed to be well received, which I attribute in no small part to the first rate presentation by our guest artists, with solid backing from the trio.  It also helps that as usual we had a knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience to encourage us.

The Trio opened  with New York arranger Artie Schroek’s version of “Mountain Greenery”, written by George Gershwin.  We then brought Ms. Genco on stage to perform two pieces, “Gavotte” and “Valse Lent” from a suite written for Violin and Jazz Trio by the French composer and pianist Claude Bolling.  These pieces had a definite classical flavor but also featured improvising and jazz styles.  We followed these with an arrangement by the Klazz Bros. from Havana, called “Mambozart”.  It is the theme from Mozart’s Symphony #39 in G minor arranged in jazz mambo style, and was played with flair by Sheryl.  I think the audience had as much fun listening to these songs as we did playing them.

Sheryl then yielded the stage to Phil Caltabellotta and his magic harmonica.  He is one of the premier musicians in the country on his instrument, and the audience warmed up to him quickly.  We began with an up tempo “Out Of Nowhere”, followed by the well-known bossa nova “Wave”, by Jobim, and “Quando, Quando, Quando” as a latin samba.  We then played the ballad “The Nearness Of You”, which had moments as beautiful as anything I’ve heard in a long time.  Phil told me later he was feeding off the Trio, and found new heights of expression.  We finished his set with the classic big band standard “Tangerine”, and then brought Sheryl back up to finish the show with Phil in a collaborative effort on the tune “Bluesette”, by Belgian jazz harmonica player Toots Thielemans.

I am pleased the mix of styles, instruments and unusual tunes was so well received.  It was quite a departure from mainstream jazz, and we’ll definitely take some more chances of this type in the future.

Our next concert on Mar. 24th will feature the silky smooth tenor sax sound of Charlie DeChant.  Charlie is from Orlando, has played with the Hall & Oates band since their inception in 1976, and is an amazing jazz player.

On Apr. 30th we will be joined by John Depaolo, master trumpet player.

John Huber, Sheryl Genco, Jerry Bruno, Phil Caltabellotta, Thomas Pizzi

John Huber, Sheryl Genco, Jerry Bruno, Phil Caltabellotta, Thomas Pizzi



Fund raiser for the Millenium Master Chorale

Update 2/27/15:

John Depaola, trumpet master, will be joining the trio for the fund raiser.

Fund Raiser event:

The Millenium Master Chorale of Central Florida is proud to host their first fund raising event at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Scot Elliott on March 1, 2015 from 3 to 5pm.  The affair will feature the Orion Trio, is open to the public and a maximum of 80 tickets will be issued.  The address and ticket information is on the invitation printed below.

The Chorale is a non-profit community organization founded in August of 2014 by Lisa Elliott, who is the director.  Thomas Pizzi, pianist for the Orion Trio, is also their accompanist.  The Chorale has already given two noteworthy performances at the Lakes Symphony 2014 Christmas concerts in Clermont and Mt. Dora, and at the Choir Jubilee recently held at Morrison Methodist Church in Leesburg, FL.

The Orion Trio is proud to play for this event, and encourages any fans who wish to attend to purchase a ticket, or simply make a donation to this most excellent Chorale.

Fund raiser