During a distinguished career spanning over four decades, Paul McCandless has brought the soaring lyricism in his playing and composing to the ensemble sound of two seminal iconic bands of jazz: the original Paul Winter Consort and the relentlessly innovative quartet, OREGON.
Born in 1947 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and a gifted multi-instrumentalist and composer, Paul specializes in the oboe, English horn, bass clarinet, soprano, and sopranino saxophones and a collection of folk flutes reflecting his grounding in both classical and jazz disciplines.
Trained at the Manhattan School of Music, he 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, Steve Reich, Al Jarreau, Bruce Hornsby, Art Lande, Carla Bley, Tony Furtado, the String Cheese Incident, Nguyen Le, Proteus 7, Fred Simon, and many more.
In 1996, Paul 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 Paul’s performance on the Oregon CD “1000 kilometers” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo in 2009.
Paul’s 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 well. 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.
Over the years, he 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 a stunning 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 Jorgensmann. 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.
Paul 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. The event was encapsulated on the CD “Hommage a Eberhard Weber” (2015, ECM Records). Paul appears on two of Weber’s CDs as a leader.
The most exciting and creative music being made today crosses stylistic boundaries and blends diverse traditions to create engaging new sounds. Charged Particles features three of the country's virtuosos doing just that in the acoustic and electric jazz arena. Murray Low is a keyboard wizard with dazzling Latin-jazz technique and imaginative improvisational skills. Aaron Germain is an inventive and sophisticated acoustic and electric bassist. Along with fiery drummer Jon Krosnick, these players are making some of the most electrifying jazz in the country today.
The trio's repertoire blends jazz with elements of Latin music, funk, classical music, and other genres. The group's original compositions are mixtures of complex orchestration and elaborate improvised solos. The band brings a similar approach to playing arrangements of tunes by other jazz artists and traditional jazz standards by the composers of America's most popular songs from decades ago, each played with a new twist.
All of the trio's music has a distinctly acoustic sensibility, despite the members playing both acoustic and electric acoustic instruments. The group's small size allows for sensitivity and spontaneity among the players, making each performance an enchanting improvisational exploration. The band's energy level is always high, even when they are cooking at a volume no louder than a whisper, or floating through the melody of a romantic ballad. Each piece they play brims with the fun the players have together and with the admiration they have for each other. Charged Particles are a treat to hear!
Charged Particles made its public debut on National Public Radio Affiliate WDET's live performance program, "Detroit Jazz Alive", originating in Detroit, Michigan. The group's one-hour live performance drew wide attention and opened the door to performances at festivals and clubs around the world. In addition to its own headline performances, the band has opened for national recording artists such as Stanley Jordan, Yanni, and Al DiMeola, and the group has had such international mega-star drummers as Peter Erskine and Dennis Chambers and percussionist Doc Gibbs sit in with them.
In 1994, Charged Particles released its first compact disk, on Schoolkids Records. The CD received airplay on over 200 jazz radio stations nation-wide and was praised by national jazz critics in such outlets as Jazziz Magazine, Jazz Times Magazine, Jazz and Blues Report, Pulse! Magazine, and many more. A performance by the group was included on the compilation CD, The Columbus Collection, featuring outstanding jazz artists from Columbus, Ohio, and released in 1996. The group’s second CD, “Sparks”, was released in late 2002 on BOPO Records, received airplay on nearly 100 radio stations within two weeks of its release, and has gained attention from critics in many American publications and in magazines as far away as England, Denmark, and Japan. “Sparks” was named one of the eight “must-hear” jazz releases of 2002 by The Other Paper, and the opening track from “Sparks” was included on the “Jazziz on Disc” sampler CD mailed to 85,000 subscribers of Jazziz Magazine in March, 2003.
In 2001, Charged Particles added a fourth member to its performing ensemble: master percussionist Ron Hope. Ron brings a sparkle to the band's performances and has added strong elements of African and Latin musical roots to the group's performance repertoire. Ron consistently delights audiences with his charismatic on-stage personality and propulsive drumming.
When Caleb Hutslar moved to Sweden, Jim Maneri sat in the keyboard chair for a period, and then a new generation of Charged Particles was born, featuring the world-renowned Kim Pensyl on keyboards and the amazing Andy Woodson on bass. Twice named one of Billboard's Top-20 Contemporary Jazz Artists of the Year, Kim is a prolific composer and an amazing performer. Andy is also a great composer and band-leader who brings energy to the electric bass reminiscent of Jaco Pastorius. With this personnel, the band performed around Ohio and toured the country as well, including performances in North Carolina, Michigan, and Chicago.
In 2011, the third generation of Charged Particles was born in California. The west coast trio began with Murray Low firing up the keyboards and Jason Muscat on electric bass. When Jason joined the touring band "Tainted Love", Aaron Germain took over blazing on the acoustic and electric basses. Playing new original compositions, as well as the long-time original repertoire of the band and compositions by their favorite contemporary composers, Murray, Aaron, and Jon are busy gigging.
Highlights for the band in recent years have been a performance on the main stage of Yoshi's San Francisco jazz club accompanying French Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le playing his compositions, an appearance accompanying vocalist Kevyn Lettau singing her compositions at Cafe Cordiale in Los Angeles, and performances in the Los Angeles area with keyboardist David Garfield.
The band has been collaborating regularly with powerhouse vocalist Rocío Guitard, and with Bay Area tenor saxophonist Tod Dickow celebrating the music of Michael Brecker.
The most exciting recent innovation for the group has been its collaboration with powerhouse reed player Paul McCandless (of the famed super-group Oregon) playing his own compositions. The group has been appearing as headliners at the famed jazz clubs Birdland (in New York City), Blues Alley (in Washington, DC), Yoshi's (in San Francisco), and Nighttown (in Cleveland), as well as at the San Luis Obispo Jazz Festival, the Stanford Jazz Festival, the Erie Blues and Jazz Festival, and other venues around California and the east coast.
Another exciting project is a celebration of the music of tenor saxophone great Michael Brecker, featuring Bay Area tenor saxophonist Tod Dickow. The group has been bringing alive Brecker's music and spirit.