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
The Blind Pig in Champaign, IL is my local saloon to relax and play on my own piano when I’m off the road. It’s usually much too dark to get a good video there so I’m happy to have this footage carefully shot by my brother, Peter Asaro. “Golden Wedding” is a classic arrangement by one of my all time favorite stride piano players, Donald Lambert.
Improvised blues live at the Blind Pig, Champaign, IL.
This is from my recent solo tour for Allied Concerts. More to come…
Paul just finished four days of shooting for the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire”. He will appear on screen as the pianist in a six piece band featuring Vince Giordano. Vince just won a Grammy for the musical soundtrack of this show. Keep a look out for season three…
The Chicago based jazz band The Fat Babies will heading into Pogo Studio in Champaign, IL in late January to record their first album. The tunes will be selected mainly from the classic recordings of the Fats Waller & His Rhythm band played in an early 1930s swing groove. Besides Paul on piano the band will include Beau Sample, bass, Alex Hall, drums, Jacob Sanders, guitar, Andy Schumm, cornet, and John Otto, clarinet & sax.
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.
Paul Asaro plays Jelly Roll Morton’s “The Crave” on the piano.