All credit card transactions on
our site are guaranteed safe through our secure authorized
provider PayPal. (You don't need an existing account; just click
the "Pay without a PayPal account" check out button in your
If you have any
questions about your order or run into a problem, email us
We want you to be happy with your purchase, and we'll do
everything we can to make sure you're satisfied.
U.S. shipping charges::
1 CD: $3
2 CDs: $4
3 CDs: $5
4 CDs: $6 (priority mail)
5 or more CDs: $13 (priority mail)
International shipping: Email us here, and we'll
calculate your shipping charges.
Dragon Lady Records
1325 W Magnolia Ave
San Antonio TX 78201
joe piscatelle ::
Elegy for Joe
by Bett Butler (reprinted from the San Antonio
Earlier in my jazz career, singing in front of a trio of
formidable players, I was appropriately intimidated. One
night, Joe Piscatelle sat at a front row table. On the
break, he read me the riot act.
“What the hell kind of half-assed thing are you doing up
there?” he said in that gruff, Cagney-esque voice. “When
you sing, you need to take command.”
“But I’m not the leader.”
He dismissed my protest with a wave of his ever-present
cigarette. “You’re the damn singer; deliver the damn
song. You owe it to the music. You owe it to the
audience. They didn’t come here to watch you sleepwalk.”
He was right, of course. That authority, born of
passion, is one of the characteristics that set the
truly great players apart; and Joe was one of the best.
His playing was in-your-face, impossible to ignore, with
melody lines that sang like Caruso and harmonies that
took you to wild and unexpected places. And he was
always in command. Everyone who played with him would
say the same thing: When you play with Joe, there’s no
question who’s driving.
He seemed to remember every tune ever written--at least,
every tune worth remembering. Music lived and breathed
in him; playing was as natural as talking. If he walked
into a house with a piano, he immediately sat down and
started playing. It wasn’t a bid for attention; it was
simply his way of joining the conversation.
Uncompromising, cantankerous, and stubborn, he was a
willing and generous mentor to those who shared his
passion. “These young players are always wanting lessons
from me,” he would complain. “Hell, they should pay to
hang out with me. They’ll learn everything they need to
know.” Joe liked those sweet drinks with a caffeine
kick, and what riches could be bought for the price of a
Bailey’s and coffee during the break: head-scratching
jazz theory, mind-blowing alternate chord changes,
obscure lyrics for which you’d been searching for years
jotted down on a cocktail napkin. It would buy the real
lowdown on the diva he’d accompanied in Los Angeles
whose name is a household word, or anecdotes of poker
games with Chet Baker on the train through Europe in the
wee hours of the morning.
I know it sounds corny, but I’d like to imagine Joe on
some heavenly train with all the great jazz players
who’ve gone before. Perhaps he’ll wander into the club
car in his Armani suit, sit at the grand piano with his
Bailey’s and coffee, and begin one of his fabulous,
open-ended Gershwin or Cole Porter medleys,
chain-smoking like a film noir detective. Perhaps he’ll
be joined by Dizzy or Bird, who he used to hear on the
radio from Birdland when he was growing up on the east
coast. Perhaps when he takes a break, he’ll join Chet
Baker for another hand of poker.
Hell, no. Knowing Joe, he’ll probably be driving the
and presented by Beverly Prado at Joe's memorial
Joe: sometimes mysterious and distant; a man of few
words, often a man of contradictions. Small in stature,
yet towering. He was rough; he was gentle. He was
intimidating, then sensitive. Most of all he, was a man
who was passionate about his muse, his jazz mistress,
his music. Joe was a complex man. What was below those
Joe loved the rain. He thought it was a cleansing part
of nature; felt comforted when he watched the rain, awed
by its power.
“How can someone not like the rain?” he’d say.
He was a man of many appetites: enjoyed a good meal and
a not so good meal, enjoyed a glass of wine and a good
cup of coffee, enjoyed the temptations of life and his
art. He was an experimenter. But that’s jazz after all,
Joe was a man who was fascinated with machinery: cars in
particular. A genius, jazz pianist/car mechanic, he kept
his automobiles in good condition even when his life was
not. He was sometimes standoff-ish with people, often
because he was shy. He hid behind a gruff exterior.
He played cards. Admired teachers, but said he was not
one himself. Some learned valuable musical lessons from
him that linger today.
Behind the complexity, Joe
was a simple guy. He couldn’t understand why the world
was not a peaceful place. He didn’t understand why he
sometimes didn’t get paid right after the gig that
night. After he suffered a stroke in March, he thought
that if he stopped smoking and took an aspirin a day
that his body would heal, but he did neither.
But Joe mostly WAS his music. He told me once, “That’s
all I know how to do. When it calls me, I have no
choice. I can’t help it.” And he was right, for he was a
musician every minute of his life. Music was his first,
his last and only real love.
So, let’s talk about love, a recurring theme in Joe’s
favorite music. Joe wasn’t a particularly handsome man:
wouldn’t be hanged for his good looks as the saying
goes, but as a friend would often say, “something
happens to him when he sits down to play. He becomes
transformed, and I think I’m falling in love with him.”
And fall in love with him we did. We all did, every
Joe’s last engagement was at Carmen’s De La Calle Café.
He wasn’t feeling well that day It was hot. He ambled
through one of his famous medleys and then played what
may have been one of the last tunes he ever
performed, “Night and Day” by Cole Porter.
Night and day, deep in the hide of me
There’s an oh, such a yearning, burning inside of me
And this torment won’t be through
‘Til you let me spend my life, making love to you
Day and night, night and day.
And so we have been given a loving, lasting present. Joe
did not come in fancy packaging. He bore none of the
frills and ribbons we associate with the material part
of life. His gift to us is what came from his talent,
his mind, his heart and those magical fingers. What good
fortune for HIM: all of you here to pay tribute to him.
By the way, he probably wouldn’t have stayed for the
whole service and would have been embarrassed by all the
“I can’t help it.” he used to say.
What good fortune for US!
After his passing, Joe gave a gift to the Legacy of Life
group, who gratefully accepted the bones in his arms
(fitting, isn’t it?) and legs as a donation to others
and for research. Fifty to 75 patients may be helped by
his donation. He is going home to Connecticut now. His
relatives there―the families of Ray Piscatelle and Adele
Nero―wish to thank all of you for the kindness you are
showing to his memory.
Our service ends with Joe himself, playing “I’m On My
Way” from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”.
A Tribute to Joe
"Recuerdos" by Joël Dilley
performed by Bett Butler on her album Myths & Fables(2007 Dragon Lady Records)
desde Laredo Joe Guerra feauring
Joe Piscatelle $12 (plus shipping & applicable
Shipping to an international
Email us here,
and we'll calculate your shipping charges
desde Laredo Joe Guerra feauring
Joe Piscatelle $12 (plus shipping & applicable
At the turn of the twentieth century, solid South Texas
drummer Joe Guerra brought the best jazz players in the
region to play every Wednesday night at the popular 907
Zaragoza, a posh club in a historic border mansion
located literally on the last street in Texas. A
frequent guest pianist was the late great virtuoso Joe
Piscatelle, who lived and breathed straight-ahead jazz
and played with Chet Baker and other legends. For this
2001 release, Guerra brought him into the studio for a
rare series of sessions with bassist Joël Dilley and
trumpet player Cecil Carter. Also featured are Ric
Cortez on guitar, Mike Berglund on trumpet, and Bill
Holman on sax.
Featuring Mike Berglund, trumpet, flugelhorn; Cecil
Carter, piano, trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn; Ric Cortez,
guitar; Joël Dilley, bass; Bill Holman, saxophones; Joe