Paul McCandless

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Paul McCandless
Paul Mc Candless.JPG
English: Paul McCandless, Concert with Oregon, Treibhaus Innsbruck 2010
Born (1947-03-24) March 24, 1947 (age 69)
Indiana, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Residence California
Occupation Composer, record producer, artist
Years active 1970–present
Musical career
Genres Jazz
Instruments oboe, English horn, soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, and sopranino saxophone
Labels Atlantic, Windham Hill Records
Associated acts Oregon (band), Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Collin Walcott, Paul Winter Consort, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, The String Cheese Incident, Charged Particles

Paul McCandless, Jr. (born March 24, 1947, Indiana, Pennsylvania) is an American jazz woodwind player and composer. He is one of few expert jazz oboists, and also plays English horn, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, bass clarinet, clarinet, and pennywhistle, among other instruments.[1]

McCandless comes from a musical family: his father, also named Paul McCandless, was also an oboist and English hornist, and his grandfather also played the oboe.

He has performed with the Paul Winter Consort and is a founding member of Oregon.

Trained at the Manhattan School of Music, McCandless was a finalist in the 1971 English horn auditions for the New York Philharmonic. Today, he says he’s lucky not to have won those auditions, because a victory would have pulled him into the world of full-time classical performing, and he would have missed out on the rich life he’s had in jazz.

As a collaborator and solo artist, he has performed on more than 200 albums and appeared with such renowned all-star musicians as Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Wynton Marsalis, Lyle Mays, Mark Isham, Boz Scaggs, Steve Reich, Al Jarreau, Bruce Hornsby, Art Lande, Carla Bley, Michael McDonald, the String Cheese Incident, Alex de Grassi, Nguyen Le, Fred Simon, and many more.

In 1996, McCandless won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He also won Grammys in 2007 and 2011 with the Paul Winter Consort, for Best New Age Album and in 1993 for Al Jarreau's album "Heaven and Earth". And his performance on the Oregon CD “1000 kilometers” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo in 2009.

He won the Downbeat Critic's Poll for Best Established Combo, the Deutscher Schallplatten Preis for his record Ectopia, and the Arbeitskreis Jazz im Bundesverband der Phonographishen Wirtschaft Gold Record Award.

His compositions have been featured in a number of film scores. Most notably, he wrote music for the video Squanto and the First Thanksgiving, a Rabbit Ears Production, with Graham Greene as narrator. Three of Paul’s orchestral scores are heard on a CD called “Oregon in Moscow”, featuring OREGON and the Moscow Tchaikovsky Orchestra.

“Round Robin,” the opening track, received two 2001 Grammy nominations for Best Instrumental Composition and Best Instrumental Arrangement. And amidst his years as a jazz artist, he has remained active in the classical world. As an orchestral soloist, he has performed with the Camerata Chamber Orchestra of Mexico City, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Philadelphia, Buffalo, Los Angeles, and Stuttgart Symphony Orchestras.

McCandless has released a series of records of his own compositions with bands he led: “All the Mornings Bring” (1978, Elektra/Asylum Records), “Heresay” (1988, Windham Hill Records), “Navigator” (1981, Landslide Records), and “Premonition” (1992, Windham Hill Records).

With Oregon, Paul has recorded 28 albums and CDs, in addition to 7 records and CDs with Paul Winter.

In 1985 McCandless toured Europe with bassist Barre Phillips and German clarinetist Theo Jörgensmann. He has been a guest musician with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (appearing on the 2002 album Live at the Quick) and has toured with tabla artist Sandip Burman. He also was a guest of Leftover Salmon and the String Cheese Incident multiple times in the late 1990s, He has appeared on stage in duets with pianist Art Lande and recorded the CD entitled “Skylight” with him for ECM Records.

McCandless was a featured soloist alongside Pat Metheny and Gary Burton in “The Great Jubilee Concert”, a huge tribute event in Theaterhaus Stuttgart, in 2015, by the SWR Big Band celebrating the music and the career of the legendary German bassist Eberhard Weber.[2] The event was encapsulated on the CD “Hommage a Eberhard Weber” (2015, ECM Records). McCandless appears on two of Weber’s CDs as a leader. The London Telegraph called McCandless' contributions to the concert "remarkable".[3] Said Jazz Journal, "Paul McCandless delivered terrific, beautifully modulated solos on both oboe and soprano."[4]

In 2014, McCandless began performing his original compositions (recorded on his solo albums) with the Bay-Area based jazz trio Charged Particles[5][6] [1], including opening the 2015 San Luis Obispo Jazz Festival with them on the main stage.[2].The quartet headlined at Yoshi's Jazz Club and the Stanford Jazz Festival, and will tour the east coast, including appearances at Birdland (NYC) and Blues Alley (DC).

McCandless has been called "one of only a handful of master oboists playing jazz"[7] by the Marin Independent Journal.[3] and of one of McCandless' own group's concerts, the Washington Post[8] said: "the group deftly explored more imaginatively orchestrated pieces, balancing contemplative and colorfully textured works that made use of a broad variety of mostly reed instruments (and an electronic wind synthesizer) with more rhythmically aggressive pieces that were often marked by spirited and sometimes rhapsodic improvisations by McCandless". The South China Morning Post[9] said he is "a particular pleasure to hear." Said the Birmingham Post, "McCandless soars[10]". And the Washington Post described McCandless as a "stellar player[11]" and as offering "sparkling harmonic cascades." The Jerusalem Post said when McCandless performs, he "sprinkles feather-light soprano saxophone touches."

Grammy Awards[edit]

Nominations (personally):

  • CD “Oregon In Moscow”, 2001, Best Instrumental Composition
  • CD “Oregon In Moscow”, 2001, Best Instrumental Arrangement
  • CD Oregon “1000 kilometers”, 2009, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo

Selected Discography[edit]

Solo Projects

With Paul Winter Consort

With Oregon

on Vanguard

  • Our First Record (recorded 1970, first released 1980)
  • Music of Another Present Era (1972)
  • Distant Hills (1973)
  • Winter Light (1974)
  • In Concert (1975)
  • Together (1976), with drummer Elvin Jones
  • Friends (1977)
  • Violin (1978), with violinist Zbigniew Seifert
  • Moon and Mind (1979)

on Elektra

  • Out of the Woods (1978)
  • Roots in the Sky (1979)
  • In Performance (1980)

on ECM

on Intuition

  • 45th Parallel (1989)
  • Always, Never and Forever (1991)
  • Troika (1993)
  • Beyond Words (1995)
  • Northwest Passage (1997)
  • Music for a Midsummer Night's Dream (The Oregon Trio) (1998)
  • In Moscow (2000), with the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
  • Live at Yoshi's (2002)

on CamJazz

  • Prime (2005)
  • The Glide (1 track, new version on iTunes, 2005)
  • 1000 Kilometers (2007)
  • In Stride (2010)
  • Family Tree (2012)

With Paul Winter

With Fred Simon and Steve Rodby

With Art Lande

With Eberhard Weber

With Ralph Towner

With Béla Fleck

With Béla Fleck and the Flecktones

With Spencer Brewer

With Andrea Pellegrini

  • Middle Earth (& Ensemble Ainulindalë. Symphonia Bluesmiles, SYB99904, 2000)
  • West Coast (& West Coast Quintet / Marco Cattani. Il Poderino della Gioiosa, 2014)

With Comotion


  • Gioia, Tedd (2011). "The History of Jazz". Oxford University Press, Editor. Chapter 8 "Freedom and Fusion". ISBN 0195399706
  • "Oregon" in "Dizionario della Musica e dei Musicisti, La Garzantina" (1983-2003). Garzanti, Editor, Milano (Italy). ISBN 88-11-50484-8

External links[edit]