There’s no other way to say it: We love, love, love jazz!
Whether it’s music from the 1920s and
Our performers all are veteran musicians with an abiding love for the compositions we perform.
Scroll down for Carole’s, Paul’s, John’s and Andy’s bios.
Photography by Bauwerks
Meet the Performers
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 recently completed work on an album featuring tunes from the Big Band era.
Stride Piano, Keyboards
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, 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.
A traditional jazz reedman for over 40 years, John has worked with West End Jazz Band, Red Rose, The Swing Shift Orchestra, The Salty Dogs, The St. Louis Ragtimers, The New Black Eagles; the Birmingham (Ala.) Symphony, and many others. He has played with a variety of artists, including Jim Beebe, Vince Giordano, Marty Grosz, Wayne Jones, Josh Duffee, John Sheridan, and Tom Pletcher. Movie appearances include “Public Enemies” and “Return To Me.”
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
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
Cornet and Other Instruments
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Andy began taking piano lessons when he was 6 years old. He dabbled as a trumpet player in grade school and high school until he found his true passion for jazz while studying with Mike Plog, a well-known modern jazz trumpeter. At the University of Illinois, Andy studied trumpet and cornet with Tito Carrillo and began arranging under the tutelage of program director Chip McNeill.
His fate as a ’20s musician was sealed one night after hearing Bix Beiderbecke’s transcendent recording of “At the Jazz Band Ball” on an authentic Victor horn machine. Andy started sitting in with Dixieland bands and, ironically, discovered that he could get more work as a ’20s musician than a modern player – yeah, man! While he is heavily influenced by Bix, Andy draws inspiration from a variety of musicians including Red Nichols, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Jabbo Smith and Tommy Dorsey (especially in his covert recordings as a trumpeter!). He also enjoys listening to Johnny Dodds and Herb Morand.
Andy is currently a full-time musician traveling the world and touring with various groups. One such group is the Archipelago Project which is a non-profit educational outreach group advocating musical arts for young students and their teachers through performance, residency and consultation.
Never content to play just one instrument, he has taken various jobs on piano, trombone, bass sax, clarinet, banjo, baritone and drums. He also plays a mean melodica and a fractured frumpet (it exists; look it up). In his spare time, Andy enjoys arranging new charts and collecting junk, including old instruments and 78-rpm records.
During his brief moments outside of the world of music, he also enjoys camping and kayaking in the key of Db. In addition, he frequently revels in the humor of the Marx Brothers.
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Do you love jazz from the ’20s, ’30s