Paul Amrod

       Paul was born on May 17 th , 1951 in a small town on the border of Quebec called Chateaugay. His first experience with playing the piano was very spontaneous. His family had an upright in the laundry room where the 3 year old Paul sat down and jammed with the washing machine. Later on he developed interest in playing the trumpet and trombone. However with his discovery of Little Richard he continued his passion for the keyboard and began singing.

       In 1963 he joined the band of his younger brother Willy. In the same year he began writing his first songs. He continued to play with Willy in various formations the last being “Children of the Earth”.  In 1967 began the band “Brand XXX” which later in 1968 received a record contract with Seymour Stein and Sire Records. In January 1969 they went on tour as the opening act for Janis Joplin and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Through his relationship with Paul Butterfield he received in depth experience as a blues pianist.

       In August of 1969 “Brand XXX” changed their name to the “Amrod’s Brand” and met the NRBQ, a band at the time under a Columbia Record contract. The NRBQ was very eclectic and played everything from solid R and B to Country and even Thelonious Monk tunes. Paul worked extensively with the NRBQ expanding his horizons and developing new musical directions. Because of his exposure to Monk he began immediately to play more modern jazz.

        In the fall of 1969 Paul was accepted into the Juilliard School of Music because of his myriad of styles and compositional abilities. He was later a Master’s Graduate. During his time at Juilliard he began combining concert-oriented music with Afro-American Music. Till this day he is composing interesting crossover projects. Also by December 1969 Paul wanted to change record labels. He impressed the Tokens who then in the spring of 1970 recorded “Amrod’s Brand-Live on the Playground”. It has been a coveted rarity and sells in E-bay for $150. 

        During the following years Paul began to search for newer directions however always played gigs featuring his R and B roots. Through his experience with Paul Butterfield and his exposure to Taj Mahal, Doctor John, Professor Longhair, and James Booker his singing and barrelhouse and R and B piano styles continually expanded.

         However with the entire training at the Juilliard and the Manhattan Jazz Scene it was inevitable that Paul would develop his own personal style of Modern Jazz. Through his studies with Hall Overton at the Julliard he developed an even more animated relationship to the music of Thelonious Monk. Hall was the arranger of the most interesting Big Band music of Thelonious and worked showing him the direction of motivic improvisation. Paul sang as an R and B singer in the Opera “Huckleberry Finn” also written by Mr. Overton. During this period he worked with Ruth Underwood, Frank Zappa’s marimba player, who was studying percussion in the Master’s department. He gave a concert at the Juilliard with her in a septet showing his approach blending concert rock and jazz together. Paul’s two years of study with Hall deepened his understanding of form, orchestration, Third Stream concepts and enrichened his development immensely. After the surprising death of Hall, Paul started studying privately with George Russell.

         He learned of the “Lydian Chromatic Concept” and was fascinated over George’s music. One of his most expansive projects, “Living Time” with the pianist Bill Evans was released during Paul’s study period. Paul has since written his own concept and has presented many Jazz Workshops expanding the theoretical understanding of modern jazz improvisation. Shortly thereafter Gil Evans became a close colleague of Paul. Hall and Gil were also friends and Paul received many tips and insights from Gil. Gil wrote a reference helping Paul receive the “National Endowment Award for Jazz Composition”.

        At this point in time Paul developed “The Paul Amrod Quartet” with Buster Williams and Ken Hitchcock. From 1975 till 1981 he played regularly in Beef-Steak Charlie’s and Striker’s, The Village Gate, Boomer’s and the Other End. He came close in to receiving various contracts but refused signing many which he never regretted.  To find tapes or recordings of the Bands from back then quite difficult. He has however notated all of his arrangements and still plays all the tunes from his earlier days. During these years, along with still singing and playing his New Orleans style R and B he decided to learn every single style of solo Jazz Piano. He performed these styles often in the Cookery in Manhattan. He is planning a CD my New York Days in the new future.

        In 1981 Paul moved to Germany and began teaching Jazz courses and performed, mostly solo throughout the European landscape. He has played in every corner of Germany France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Sweden, England, Holland and in the Czech Republic. He has often performed a program developed from his many solo styles called “The History of the Jazz Piano”. He has played from Ragtime till Hard Bop and beyond for over 250 audiences. He is fluent in German and explains every facet of Jazz to enthused publics. For the next 10 years Paul had had various formations. His first band being “The Paul Amrod R and B Project” with which he kept his love for New Orleans burning. Alongside his blues he still played his modern jazz in Trio and Quartet or Solo in selective venues in Paris, London and was guest as many Jazz Festivals in the 80ties from Darmstadt Trier Rottweil Konstanz Kaiserslautern Reutlingen and in Bruck an die Mohr. During this time he also led three choirs, one being the Sembach Gospel Choir where he performed in many concerts in Germany. Paul has always had an avid interest in Afro-American church music. Also in 1983 in Paris Paul met Memphis Slim and played in his club the “Memphis Melody” many times.  From 1988 till 1992 Paul was very active in theater bringing his pianism to an entirely different audience. He performed regularly Gershwin’s Piano Concerto, Rhapsody in Blue and the rare Second Rhapsody. He performed in such theaters as “The Pfaelzische Stadtstheater” Kaiserslautern and in Hagen Mainz und Trier as well.  Also he was the Musical Director for many productions in Mainz and Hagen. Also during these four years Paul was the anchor man for the Jazz in the American Base Ramstein. Many beautiful and spontaneous sessions happened and he kept touch with his countrymen and enjoyed taking them out as guest players into the German scene.

        In 1992 played moved to the Lake of Constance where he established the band “Purple Elephant” and finally made a CD on his own costs presenting 12 Blues tunes and singing with Eve Kowalczyk. The band was active for three years in the original form. Shortly before this time he returned to the US to record “The Children of the Earth” with his brother Willy and the James Brown Brass including Maceo Parker, Pee Wee Ellis, and Fred Wesley. In 1996 Paul and a fellow singer Artis Denis and saxist Steve Hooks started another R and B outfit named the “Denis Do-Groove Band”. Shortly thereafter the Band reformed as “Too Cold” and played often in Austria and Switzerland from Vienna to Zurich.   

        In 2000 Paul wrote a variation on “The Peace Fugue” from Fred Wesley for full orchestra. Fred adores it but it is still waiting for a premiere. Since 2006 Paul has revived “Purple Elephant” and has played at various New Orleans Festivals and the newest will be in Erfurt next June. In the first decade of the 21 st Century Paul has worked and composed for the Konstanz Theater and Orchestra. Finally in 2007 the Southwest German Philharmonic played his Hard Bop Concerto for Orchestra and Jazz Quartet, with Paul on piano. A tape followed representing Paul’s exclusive style of concert jazz. He is still presenting various historical jazz forums and is planning on making many CDs in the next time, claiming “I am riper than ever before and I want to enjoy this time and tape many of my earlier music and of course my music of today”. He has recently set 20 Brecht poems to music. A very interesting relationship to the Jazz scene of Berlin in the twenties can be heard as well as a fresh new modern twist. This year on October 31 st he conducted to a sold-out house in the Vienna Concert House his Gershwin Variations for Big Band and Chamber Orchestra. Along with the many up and coming CDs he will be making, he is looking forward to continue performing his lifelong love for R and B from New Orleans as well as his expansive new jazz ideas branching from Hard Bop to Third Stream.