Our Passion

There’s no other way to say it: We love, love, love jazz!

Whether it’s music from the 1920s and ’30s, or the Big Band tradition of the ’30s and ’40s that’s your own favorite, Scat Cats delivers. Our repertoire includes it all.

Our performers all are veteran musicians with an abiding love for the compositions we perform.

Scroll down for Carole’s, Paul’s and John’s bios.

Photography by Bauwerks

UPCOMING GIGS

July 27, 2019 – Taste of Wisconsin, Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scat Cats will perform on the Jazz Stage from 9:40 to 11:00 p.m.

Aug. 2, 2019 – Sazzy B,  56th Street at 6th Avenue in Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scat Cats will perform from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Sept. 6, 2019 – Sazzy B,  56th Street at 6th Avenue in Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scat Cats will perform from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Oct. 11, 2019 – Sazzy B,  56th Street at 6th Avenue in Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scat Cats will perform from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Nov. 15, 2019 – Sazzy B,  56th Street at 6th Avenue in Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scat Cats will perform from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

 

Meet the Performers

Carole Crawford

Carole Crawford

Lead Vocals

Carole Crawford was born and raised into the Big Band tradition. Her father, Edward Vedder, was a jazz trumpet player during the World War II years and after that performed in some of the great territory bands sponsored by the great Jimmy McPartland post-war throughout the Midwest.

Carole‘s latest venture is Scat Cats, a group that covers all the great music of the late ‘20s and early ‘30s (sometimes overlooked by the bebop post-war combos) and, of course, the great Big Band tradition of the ‘30s and ‘40s that she loves. Scat Cats features Carole on vocals and the great Chicago jazz stride pianist Paul Asaro on keyboards and vocals.

If you love the music of the late great Fats Waller and the Kansas City sound he produced in the 1920s and ‘30s, you will love this combination. Periodically, Carole and Paul are joined by reedman John Otto, a truly great jazz veteran musician in Chicago for over 40 years, adding his distinctive clarinet and alto sound.

Carole produced two combo albums with The Pat Crawford Jazz Quintet (featuring her husband, Patrick Crawford), “It Might as Well Be Spring” in 2005, and the other titled “Back at the Chicken Shack,” in 2007. The recordings featured several wonderful guest musicians, including the late great jazz guitarist Godfrey Viegas.

Carole is currently at work on an album featuring tunes from the Big Band era.

Paul Asaro

Paul Asaro

Keyboards, Vocals

Paul Asaro is known as one of the finest of a select group of pianists performing the demanding two-handed jazz and ragtime piano styles from the first half of the 20th century. The Stride piano of James P. Johnson, Willie “The Lion” Smith and Fats Waller, the New Orleans styles of Jelly Roll Morton, the ragtime of Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake, stomps, boogie woogie and swing — Asaro plays them all with a fine ear for detail, blending the elements into his own personal style.

In a career now spanning two decades, Paul has performed at theaters and clubs worldwide and has appeared at such major venues as the Chicago Jazz Festival, Ravinia, the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal and the Ascona Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He has performed onstage with such musical legends and luminaries as Leon Redbone, Steve Allen, Marian McPartland, Butch Thompson, Jeff Healy and Vince Giordano.

He was the featured pianist in the Obie award winning Broadway production of “Jelly Roll! The Music and the Man,” performing solo and accompanying the show’s creator and star Vernel Bagneris. Paul also played for the national tour and numerous regional theater productions of “Jelly Roll!”

Paul has had long runs as house pianist aboard the legendary New Orleans steamboat “Delta Queen” and in Chicago with Jim Beebe’s band featuring former Louis Armstrong All-Star Barrett Deems and the legendary tenor man Franz Jackson. Paul’s piano can be heard on two recent albums by singer and guitarist Loudon Wainwright III including the 2010 Grammy Award winning “Charlie Poole Project.

When not on the road Paul holds down the piano chair in the eight-piece jazz band “The Fat Babies,” performing weekly at the long-established Chicago jazz club The Green Mill and at the Honky Tonk BBQ. The group plays a wide variety of jazz from the 1920s through the 1940s and has released two albums to critical acclaim with their Delmark Records release “Chicago Hot” being named one of the best jazz album releases of 2012 by the Chicago Tribune.

 

John Otto

John Otto

Reeds

John Otto, reedman extraordinaire, is a full-time jobbing musician and piano technician. He enjoys playing many styles of music. He has performed and recorded with many well-known bands all over the country.

John’s mother was a soloist in church music, musicals, weddings and an accomplished jobbing musician herself. His dad played trombone for fun and liked listening to Big Bands in the late 1930s. He had swing and jazz records collected in the closet, which John found most enticing upon discovery at a very early age.

John started learning piano in grade school and changed to clarinet upon entrance into junior high school. In high school, his musical mentor was Wellington Schiller, a full-time musician and teacher. Wellington would loan John his Red Nichols records, which had quite a profound impact on him by grooming his ear for melody and rhythm. Some additional instruction from the late well-known Carmen Dello helped set him up for success.

John’s first job was working in Bolingbrook, Illinois, at an amusement park called Old Chicago (an enclosed shopping mall with circus bands and traveling acts such as vaudeville shows) while in high school, but he quit to enroll in college. He met WEJB leader, Mike Bezin, at a jam session and soon after became a regular member of the band. Although John can play great jazz in many forms on clarinet and saxophone, his abilities in the hot dance category are supreme.

In 1977, he started a business as a piano tech and has continued in that business for 25 years. His outside interests are classic cars, record collecting and acting. He is married to Mary, a talented actress and imaginative cookie maker. Some of John’s recent work has been subbing with the St. Louis Ragtimers, though you will find him about Chicago and its surrounding ‘burbs playing jazz, swing, Dixieland AND hot dance.

Let Scat Cats Headline Your Next Event

Do you love jazz from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s as much as we do? We enjoy sharing these great sounds with others, whether in a small intimate venue, main-stage event or for your private gathering. Contact us for more details.