FROM BLIXA BARGELD TO JOHN ZORN, Paul Brody has worked with some of the mostexciting people in music today. His achievements as a composer and as a trumpet soloist have earned him international acclaim. While growing up in California, his family cultivated a rich and textured musical environment. The sounds of Sam Rivers, Robert Schumann, the Chicago Art Ensemble, The Ventures, Charles Ives, Joan Baez, Stravinsky, and the Beatles filled his early musical memories. After high school Brody first worked as a freelance trumpeter in San Francisco and then left for the east coast to study classical trumpet, composition, and creative writing at Boston University. His graduate work at the New England Conservatory focused on Third Stream Music.
Upon completing his MA, he won a number of auditions and toured Europe with the Broadway-based Duke Ellington Show, Sophisticated Ladies. He also traveled the US with the BMG pop band, Bop Harvey. He returned to Europe to play with such stars as Barry White, The Supremes, Shirley Bassey, and Ute Lemper, as well as improvisers like David Moss, Steve Bernstein, Anthony Coleman, Billy Bang, Alan Bern, Tony Buck, Johannes Bauer, and Carlos Bica. He also played with klezmer musicians like Frank London, David Krakauer, Theodore Bikel, Michael Alpert, Alicia Svigals and Socalled.
In the 1990s, Brody chose Berlin as his home because of the musical experimentation that thrived in the city, inspired in part by the feeling of upheaval still pervasive since the Wall fell. Learning German was also important for him in order to read the autobiography, poems, and stories of his Viennese grandfather, Hugo Wolf, a figure in the modernist literary circles around Karl Kraus until Wolf was forced to leave the country in 1939. In Berlin, Paul Brody’s work with many young composers soon prompted him to write his own music. His 1997 CD, the Paul Brody Octet, „Turtle Paradise,“ launched his career as a composer and band leader.
With an all-star ensemble he wrote and produced the music for his DetoNation Orchestra CD, „Cowboys and Animals“ (2001), which embraced American folklore in a way that only a homesick Californian dreamer could imagine. As part of his personal journey, Brody deepened his exploration of Jewish culture and was inspired to experiment with klezmer music. Together with his band Tango Toy he recorded two CDs. With support from the Berlin Arts Council, he started what is now known as one of the most innovative bands in contemporary Jewish music, Paul Brody’s Sadawi. John Zorn produced the first two CDs, „Kabbalah Dream“ (2003) and „Beyond Babylon“ (2005) on his Tzadik label, and joined the band himself as a guest soloist on its third CD, „For the Moment“ (2008).
The Klezmatics leader, Frank London, and singer Michael Alpert are also featured on the CD. With Sadawi, Brody toured both eastern and western Europe as well as North America, and played at the Chicago World Music Festival, KlezCalifornia, the Warsaw Jazz Festival, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, the Minsk Klezmer Shock festival, Vienna Klezmore Festival, Toronto’s Ashkenaz, the New York Jewish Culture Festival, and many others.
The 2005 Berlin Jazz Festival invited Brody to form a trio with guitarist Michael Rodach and accordionist Alan Bern.
The Bern/Brody/Rodach Trio continues to perform its original compositions, a blend of unique grooves, sonic textural painting, and open improvisations. The sound of the trio is somewhere between film noire, Bartok string quartets, and the Jimmy Giuffre3. Brody has performed as a guest trumpet soloist in some of Europe’s most prestigious theaters.
In addition to his solo works, he has been involved in a number of theater and film projects. He has composed for two musicals, a chanson evening, and numerous TV documentaries. He has also taught at the Hans Eisler School Music Conservatory in Berlin, Yiddish Summer Weimar, and in Borderlands Project with funding from the Ford Foundation. Inspired by making music with his children, he has recently written and produced CDs of children’s songs in English, „Hickory Dickory Dock“ (2007) and „All My Little Ducklings“ (2008), released by the Oetinger publishing house. The songs are popular with critics and educators, parents and children. Brody’s music has reached the top of the charts at major radio stations, and was included on the „Favorites“ children’s music sampler put out by EMI records and WDR radio
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