Jan. 17, 1922–Oct. 11, 1996
Johnny Costa was called "a phenomenal pianist" (Dick Hyman), "the Mozart of jazz piano" (Leonardo Meledandri), and "the White Tatum" (Art Tatum). I called Johnny my most precious friend.
Johnny Costa was admired by many jazz giants: Benny Carter, Dave Brubeck, Tommy Dorsey, Gillespie, Scott Hamilton, Dick Hyman, Jack Teagarden, Mel Torme, Teddy Wilson, among many others.
During the final decade of Johnny's life, I traveled to Pittsburgh several times each year, spending as much time with him as his failing health permitted. I met his family and many of his friends, all of whom have been gracious to me, particularly Debbie Costa Elwood, his daughter, and Clara Nelson, his sister, both who became my good friends.
I will never forget observing the respect, love, and admiration extended to Johnny everywhere we went such as waiters at a restaurant, the butcher at a market, the sound engineer at a recording studio, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall, and the hundreds of fans who attended his final concert in Harrisburg.
This website is dedicated to Johnny Costa, the man I love, an extraordinary person and nonpareil pianist. It is my hope you will learn about Johnny—the man, his music, and my irreplaceable friend.