August 15, 2017

My name is John Bresnik.  I was the first-born of three children — born in Los Angeles, California in April of 1940.  My parents lived in West Hollywood at the time.  In 1944, my brother Rob was born and then in 1948, the family moved to the far west of Los Angeles (Pacific Palisades). Our sister Nancy was born in October of the same year.

I studied classical piano for three years, beginning in 1951. Then I studied jazz piano with a famous teacher in Hollywood, Sam Saxe. He was very expensive, but my dad wanted me to have the best instruction available in the area. So, thanks to dad’s willingness to spend the money, Sam’s methods and my practice time, I was able to start playing jazz piano professionally in 1955.

I went to high school with Nancy Sinatra and Jack Jones – our trio backed them on several occasions at the school musical productions. I was in a group with Chris Clark (bass player), who went on to play with Les Brown after high school. Joanie Sommers and I used to practice in the practice rooms at Santa Monica City College (here they are singing together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2YKMiTknhE)

Then to Arizona State in January of 1960 to finish out the four years. In August of ’61, I recorded my first album at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood —http://goldstarrecordingstudios.com/.

In late August of 1961, I enlisted in the Regular Army, initially serving in Frankfurt, Germany with the 3rd Armored Division. Then in early ’63 I was transferred to Augsburg and played with the 24th Infantry Division Band. Our big band played several Glenn Miller arrangements, which were very popular with the German audiences, and I played cymbals in the marching band. In the summer of 1963, I recorded another album in Munich with fellow band members. That was with a quartet featuring Earl Moseley on tenor sax.

I met my future wife in Augsburg (from Dublin, Ireland) and we were married in Pacific Palisades, California in June of 1965. We had five children from 1966 to 1977 and now have five grandchildren. Initially we lived in Santa Monica, but moved to Escondido in 1977 (100 miles south). We moved to Dublin in July of 1980 for a one-year sabbatical, and then returned to Escondido in July of 1981. In April of 2017 she had a tragic accident while riding her bike (she was a triathlete) north of Escondido. Somehow she fell off the bike (there were no witnesses) and died from blunt trauma injuries. We were married for 52 years. She was 76. So, now I’m on my own, which I was hoping to avoid at this age (I’m 77). But, I’ll have to adjust to this new situation.

I’m currently focused on promoting my new website, johnbresnik.com. I sell my photos from that site. I’ve been taking photos for 67 years so there’s a lot of history behind my current work in photography. I also have a site, brezjazzpiano.com, to sell products related to learning my style of jazz piano playing.

My hobbies and activities include cycling (road bike), photography and print-making, wood-working, writing, travel, and staying in touch with our children and grandchildren.




5 Responses to “About”

  1. Vera Highley January 2, 2013 at 6:27 PM #

    Hi, my step fathers grandfather was Sam saxe. Even though my brother his great grandson never got to meet him, he and I remember hearing many stories about the wonderful man he was. I’m glad you knew him.

    • brez January 3, 2013 at 12:52 AM #

      Hi Vera – thank you for mentioning this. I worked with Sam for about a year and a half — he was very helpful and he inspired me to practice a lot and get into the business. He worked out of his home in the middle of Hollywood somewhere (don’t remember the address). But, it was an older house, but it wasn’t in a residential area — as I recall it was in more of a commercial area.

      In his waiting room he had the walls full of photos of famous people who either knew him or studied with him. I saw several of the “name” jazz piano players of the day. So, it was quite a thrill to be in that company. To say you “studied with Sam Saxe” gave you an instant acceptance wherever I played. He was “THE” teacher to study with.

      Do you have any photos of him? Let me know because I’d love to have a photo or two that I can put on a new website I’m working on.

      Take care,

      John Bresnik
      Jazz Pianist who studied with Same Saxe…!

  2. CUpDFOTPn1RcO1Dv8NE6UVRoHF3UI7k8ofRSTiFBAY8= August 16, 2017 at 12:34 PM #

    Hello Mr. Bresnik, I just received my father’s copy of the Taro Leaf, the 24th ID Association’s publication and saw your story. My father, William ‘Cris” Crispens was stationed in Augsburg in 1963 and I was wondering if by some long shot you happened to know of him? He died unexpectedly just 10 days ago, he lived all his life in Maryland. He was profoundly proud of his service and his time in Augsburg, and I am so sad he didn’t get a chance to read about your experiences.

    Jean Crispens

    • brez August 16, 2017 at 12:50 PM #

      Jean – I have to leave right now, but I just wanted to get back to you — I’ll write more later. I didn’t know him, but there were a few thousand guys there. What unit was he in? I didn’t know my story was in the Taro Leaf – I’d like to see that. Yes, I have a long story about Augsburg and my time there. I’ll get back to you this evening. John

    • brez August 16, 2017 at 9:00 PM #

      I was sorry to hear about your father’s sudden death. I had similar situation this past April. My wife was riding her bike (she was a triathlete) and somehow fell off while descending a hill north of town. There were no witnesses so we don’t know what happened. She died within a couple hours. The sudden death ones are really hard on the survivors. It’s been four months so I’m just beginning to get used to the idea that she’s gone forever.

      Augsburg was a special place for us as that was where we met in 1963. We got married in Los Angeles (I’m from Los Angeles and she was from Dublin, Ireland) in June of 1965, so we were married for almost 52 years. We had five children together and five grandchildren.

      I’m sure he enjoyed his time in Augsburg. It was a very nice small German town and only 30 minutes from Munich. I was there from March of ’63 to October of ’64 and was in a marching band on Sheridan Kaserne. Where was your dad stationed?

      I’m curious about that Taro Leaf publication – was there a story about me in there?

      It’s going to be rough-going for awhile. I went to a grief support group at our church for several weeks – that was helpful.

      Take care,


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