To a standing ovation, a recovered Bucky, who'd focused intensely on both his physical and musical recovery, and his guitar returned to the stage at Birdland in Manhattan Sunday night, guitar in hand, to a standing ovation. Surround him were family, including bassist Martin Pizzarelli, and old friends like guitarist Ed Laub, saxophonist Ken Peplowski, pianist Konrad Paszkudzki, who works with John Pizzarelli's Quartet, and singer-pianist Barbara Carroll. John was not present, having had a gig in Chicago Sunday night. Bucky had resumed playing in late May and early June.
He's booked for other dates this summer. His fans had set up an "Ovaltine for Bucky" get well campaign. Apparently that, and ample grit and determination on his part, got the job done, even more miraculous given his age. But Bucky's virtuosity and inner strength have always gone hand in hand. It was obvious when I met him in the summer of 2010 when he performed and taught at Duquesne University's then-annual Guitar and Bass event with Joe Negri.
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