Alto Sax | Alto Clarinet | Vocals  



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.

Johnís 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.

Johnís 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 Johnís recent work has been subbing with the St. Louis Ragtimers, though you will find him about Chicago and its surrounding Ďburbs playing jazz, swing, Dixieland AND hot dance.