“A stunning showcase drawing from his classical and jazz backgrounds…” — Nancy Ann Lee, JazzTimes
Canadian Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey breaks through with his Arkadia Records CD, Paul Tobey: Street Culture, his debut American release. Featuring Paul’s brilliant original compositions and arrangements, the album is a celebration of the diverse elements that influence our lives. Modern and yet guided by tradition, it’s a universe filled with the boundless energy of inventive minds, all uniting to enrich our surroundings.
“Never less than impressive…” — Jack Bowers, Cadence Magazine
Tobey has achieved his own strong musical voice in the past decade and has been hailed by critics for his “tunes full of imagery,” “agility and bright touch at the keyboard,” and for playing that is “inspired, artful and unfailingly interesting.”
“Paul Tobey is one of the finest jazz pianists to come out of Canada! His new CD collection, STREET CULTURE, is without doubt one of the most polished and technically perfect jazz piano outings to arrive in recent years…Highly inventive…Excellent performances” –Lee Prosser, Jazzreview.com
Along with Terry Clarke (drums), Mike Murley (saxophone), and Jim Vivian (bass), Paul Tobey brings his keyboard dexterity, improvisational energy, and compositional ingenuity to this release, Paul Tobey: Street Culture.
|1. Street Culture
2. The Netster
3. Bay Street Blues
4. In My Own Time
5. A Conversation with Ibach
6. Settlin’ In
8. Adrian’s Song
9. Street Culture (radio track)All songs composed &
arranged by Paul Tobey
|Paul Tobey – piano
Jim Vivian – bass
Mike Murley – tenor saxophone
Terry Clarke – drums
ABOUT PAUL TOBEY
Though he’s been forging a strong path toward musical success for more than a decade, Canadian jazz pianist/composer Paul Tobey took several dramatic steps forward when his versatile band dazzled attendees at the 1998 JazzTimes Convention. Since then, his rise in the non-Canadian world has sped up dramatically. To wit, Tobey recently signed a multi-project deal with New York-based Arkadia Jazz, making his label debut with the worldwide release of his brand-new CD, Street Culture. An imaginative quartet outing with saxophonist Mike Murley, bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Terry Clarke, the album features eight Tobey originals.
The Early Years
Born September 7, 1962 in Owen Sound, Ontario, Paul Tobey received his earliest musical training from the church organist where his father was minister. The family was immersed in the church and did not own a stereo or record collection. From ages eight to 18, Tobey studied classical music and played choral music and hymns on piano for church services. A college field trip to a Toronto club where pianist Oscar Peterson was playing exposed him to jazz for the first time.
“I had reached a level of classical playing where I was playing everybody else’s music and these guys were blowing me away with on-the-spot compositions which I didn’t understand. It was mind-boggling to an 18-year-old,” says Tobey. Paul had polished his classical chops playing plenty of contrapuntal music by Johann Sebastian Bach “which was probably as close to jazz as you can get.” Significantly impressed with Oscar Peterson’s adept, spontaneous inventions, Tobey yearned to apply his own levels of proficiency to a similar improvisational technique.
The Formative Years
Challenged by what he’d heard, Tobey began to make the transition through an intensive jazz studies program at Mohawk College in Hamilton. He earned his diploma in 1981 in just two years rather than the usual three because he’d already studied the basics of theory and harmony. At age 21, Paul packed up his belongings and moved to Montreal 600 miles away from home to attend Concordia University, graduating in two years with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (1984). At Concordia, Tobey had majored in jazz composition and arranging. His minor in computer studies (and subsequent penchant for staying abreast of the latest technology) allowed him to program his own website (www.paultobey.com) and a CD-ROM, including an electronic press kit and video footage from the session of Street Culture.
After graduation from Concordia, Tobey sought to further develop his performing skills, so he headed for New York City, to reinforce his craft with lessons from legendary jazz pianist Kenny Barron. “Kenny has a way of teaching that’s not entrenched in harmonic specifics and a classical way of teaching,” says Tobey. “When he gives you insights into jazz, it’s more a synopsis of the scene. He told me not to worry about what I’m playing but how I feel when I’m playing it.”
Tobey returned to Montreal after his stint in New York, where he weathered the difficult transition from Classical music to thinking like a jazz musician. “I’m such a perfectionist,” he says. “I’m my own worst critic. That was the hardest thing, to get over that boundary of being a classically trained musician. I had to take all of that stuff I had learned, toss it out the window and be a jazz musician.” It was in Montreal that Paul carved a new career path for the next 13 years.
In 1995, Paul moved to Toronto, a jazz-rich city that he tags as the “New York of Canada.” After settling there, Tobey self-produced several new recordings, the trio session Orpheus (1994), the quarter date A Little Rain Must Fall (1997), his heralded third album Wayward (1`998), and his fourth and most recent recording, Street Culture
Paul Tobey Meets Arkadia Jazz
Tobey’s wife and manager Nancy Houle, of The Jazz Solution artist management agency, submitted Paul’s CD masters to Arkadia Jazz and only one other label. But the two kept running into Arkadia CEO, Bob Karcy, at various events and felt that was an important sign. Tobey received a grant to perform at The Hague Jazz Convention, and at a dinner hosted by the Canadian Embassy, Paul ended up seated across from Karcy, who soon after made an offer.
“When I saw Paul’s performance at the Hague Jazz Convention, it confirmed what I heard on his demo,” says Karcy. “Paul is a unique and brilliant pianist and composer. It’s always an exciting feeling when I can bring great talent into our family, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to document Paul’s body of work under the Arkadia Records umbrella.”
Street Culture, Paul Tobey’s first release from Arkadia Jazz, blends all of Paul’s best talents– splendid technique, stimulating spontaneity, compelling interplay, and skillful writing– into a modern-edged session that draws influence from his inspirators, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Bill Evans, Michael Brecker, and others. “This is an album of music which reflects many elements of our culture,” Tobey says, “Street Culture, to me is the end product of the relationships of all human beings, for which no two souls are the same. It’s a universe filled with the boundless energy of inventive minds, all conspiring to create our environment. The city, with its massive population living in close proximity is the perfect Mecca for the creation of culture- hundreds of thousands of souls in perfect harmony. Perhaps all of them are responsible for this music.”
Paul’s interactions with his cohesive all-Canadian musical team, assembled for the first time specifically for this session, are refreshingly breathtaking. Tenor saxophonist Mike Murley was chosen for this project because Paul admires Murley’s lyrical, melody-based style with its Wayne Shorter edge. Drummer Terry Clarke’s polyrhythmic artistry propels this session, while bassist Jim Vivian– who has worked with Tobey the longest, has been active on the Toronto scene since the early 1980’s and has performed with John Abercrombie, Dave Liebman, and Kenny Wheeler.
Other Musical Endeavors
Tobey’s activities include television and radio appearances, and major festival performances with an array of jazz artists at the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, the Toronto International Jazz Festival (Harbourfront), the Waterloo and Hamilton Jazz Festivals, and the 1999 JVC Jazz Festival. He’s been a recurring headliner at Canada’s most prestigious venue, Top O’ The Senator, as well as other clubs in Toronto and across the country. The first Canadian artist to be signed to Arkadia, Paul currently has no plans to relocate to New York City. He’s received ongoing support from Canadian institutions. Such assistance rarely comes unless you’re at the top of your game in Canada.
Tobey is humble about his accomplishments. “If there’s one message I’d want to get across, it’s that I make music so people can hear it,” says Tobey. “If I had one goal in life, it’s that as many people as possible could hear my music and appreciate it. It’s not about making more money, it’s not about saying that the music is better than someone else’s; it’s not about awards like the Juno or Grammy. It’s just about trying to make the best music I can, to the best of my ability and hopefully to communicate an idea through the music that culture and life is something to be experienced and not to fret about. It’s more of a celebration of life itself.”
Tobey has achieved his own strong musical voice in the past decade and has been hailed by critics for his “tunes full of imagery,” “agility and bright touch at the keyboard,” “absolute assurance,” and for playing that is “inspired, artful and unfailingly interesting.” His talents have been recognized by prestigious jazz establishments such as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, The International Association of Jazz Educators, the Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montreal, and other Canadian organizations and critics, yet Tobey has not yet achieved widespread fame in the United States or overseas. The release of Street Culture and his upcoming work with Arkadia Jazz is certain to change all of that.
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What the Media Said About Paul Tobey
“When jazz fans hear Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck or Bill Evans, they know immediately who’s playing. In a couple of years the same will be true for Paul Tobey, for he has everything it takes to join the legends…”
- Harrie Currie, Kitchener-Waterloo Record
“He combines the many elements of our culture into the music with a high energy quotient…”
- Oscar Groomes, O’s Place Jazz Newsletter
“Tobey’s debut recording on Arkadia Jazz is a smart calling card for his future, a thrusting nine-cut release with his authoritative keyboard styling…”
- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star
“Never less than impressive…”
- Jack Bowers, Cadence Magazine
“Tobey impressed throughout the set with his agility and bright touch at the keyboard. This guy is definitely a name to look out for…”
- Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal
“A stunning showcase drawing from his classical and jazz backgrounds…”
- Nancy Ann Lee, JazzTimes
“He is a masterfully musical player and a fascinating composer whose musical patterns- written and improvised- are fully fleshed out points of logic that take story-like form…”
- Douglas Payne, All About Jazz
Jazz pianist Paul Tobey belongs to a very rare class among the young jazz musicians of today…Tobey has it all- technique, talent, insight, imagination and a gift for melody, both in his written tunes and his improvisations, plus that elusive kernel that is impossible to qualify- a style full of warmth and integrity that is all his own…Tobey listens as he plays, imitating some of the sax phrases in fills, a few times almost creating a short canon. His taste is superb, the inventions flowing without end and even in his scalic passages there is a sense of line…When jazz fans hear Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck or Bill Evans, they know immediately who’s playing. In a couple of years the same will be true for Paul Tobey, for he has everything it takes to join the legends. – Kitchener-Waterloo Record- (Concert Review)
Paul Tobey is one of the finest jazz pianists to come out of Canada! His new CD collection, STREET CULTURE, is without doubt one of the most polished and technically perfect jazz piano outings to arrive in recent years, full of sensitive piano phrasings, harmonic inventions, and notes that never miss their target! …The solo work is straight-ahead, classic in approach, and highly inventive…If you are looking for a jazz pianist with a unique voice, give a listen to the sounds of Paul Tobey. Paul Tobey and STREET CULTURE is a unique and enjoyable jazz listening experience, one that will entertain you with original songs and solo work! Give it a listen! Excellent performances! – Lee Prosser, Jazzreview.com
4-/4…Paul is aggressive on piano for this neo-bop set. He combines the many elements of our culture into the music with a high energy quotient. Mike Murley complements the rhythm section with spirited, driving melodies on tenor sax. — Oscar Groomes, O’s Place Jazz Newsletter