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Published: Wednesday, 12/3/2008

Serious musician finds niche in comedy

Jazz is serious music most of the time, anyway.

One notable exception is when Pete Barbutti takes the stage, as he will do Saturday night as the featured guest artist with the Toledo Jazz Orchestra.

Finding his niche as a jazz comedian, Barbutti is a serious musician who can t help making people laugh. He was voted class clown and most popular at Scranton (Pa.) Tech High School.

Barbutti s first took musical lessons at age 11 when he started studying the accordion, then switched to drums and percussion in high school. While still in high school, he gave accordion lessons to students during the day and played rock and roll in local clubs at night.

His musical talents were noted in high school by his selection to perform with the Scranton Philharmonic Orchestra and by earning first chair percussionist honors in a statewide competition.

Barbutti began combining his sense of humor and musicianship when he founded a group called the Millionaires, touring the country for six years before settling in Las Vegas.

While doing solo stand-up comedy routines in Vegas, Barbutti was discovered by Steve Allen and quickly became a regular on television talk shows. From the 1960s until the 1980s, he reportedly made more than 1,000 guest appearances on such programs as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show, Dick Cavett, and The Sammy Davis Show.

Now 74, Barbutti continues to combine music and comedy with jazz groups and at jazz festivals nationwide.

The 18-piece Toledo Jazz Orchestra will feature Pete Barbutti in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Tickets are $25 for the general public or $5 for students, available from the box office, 419-824-3999.



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