Paul Asaro’s ebullient stride-piano technique vividly
evokes an earlier era. You don’t encounter pre-bebop jazz
of this quality and commitment very often anymore.”
– Howard Reich of Chicago Tribune
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does Paul perform solo or with a group?
Both. Paul performs solo piano in clubs, concerts, and music festivals worldwide. He also currently tours as a duo with Leon Redbone and plays regularly with the Fat Babies, a Chicago-based traditional jazz group specializing in the music from the 1920s and 1930s. Its hard-driving swing has made it a popular favorite for both dancers and listeners alike.
Harlem Stride Piano developed out of the ragtime piano styles of New York City and the east coast, also known as “Eastern Ragtime”. The style continued the ragtime tradition of a march-like left hand see-sawing between a single bass note at the bottom of the keyboard, and a chord struck in the center of the keyboard. In general, ragtime pianists only stretched an octave or an octave and a half between the bass note and the chord in the middle but the stride pianists stretched much further towards the bottom end of the keyboard and the wider span give a much fuller sound. The syncopated figures in the right hand evolved into more varied and complicated patterns involving all manner of thirds, sixths, tenths, chromatic runs, broken chords, glissandos, and tremolo octaves. As it developed during the declining years of ragtime’s popularity and during the rise of the jazz age it further distinguished itself from ragtime piano in its sense of “swing” in the rhythm and its increasing use and the complexity of improvisation during perfomance. Stride piano was an east coast development and differed stylistically from the New Orleans jazz pianists such as Jelly Roll Morton in its voicings and melodic figures.
“Leon – accompanied by Paul Asaro, a wonderful stride pianist… was very much a part of the show. His playing was great, easily matching Leon’s dexterous finger and fret work. And Asaro also occasionally played Abbott to Leon’s Costello in some back and forth comedy bits that would look dumb on paper but were hilarious in the way they pulled them off.”
— Folk Roots/Folk Branches with Mike Regenstreif
“…perfectly capable of playing anything.” -Leon Redbone interviewed for the —Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune
Paul Asaro plays Jelly Roll Morton’s “The Crave” on the piano.
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Medium Length Bio
Paul Asaro is known worldwide as one of the finest interpreters of the ragtime and jazz piano styles of Harlem Stride, Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake. Asaro plays them all with a fine ear for detail, blending the elements into his own personal style. Paul has appeared at concerts and festivals worldwide and 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 one of the featured pianists in the Obie award winning Broadway production of Vernel Bagneris’ and Morten Gunnar Larsen’s “Jelly Roll! The Music and the Man”. Asaro has had long runs as house pianist aboard the legendary New Orleans steamboat “Delta Queen” and in Chicago with Jim Beebe’s Chicago Jazz band.