Saxophone and flute player Paul Lieberman has been crossing boundaries with his music for a long time. Reviewers, listeners, and fellow performers call Paul "inspired" and "inspiring," citing the "joy," "understanding," "commitment," and "heart" in his music, and the "great lyricism," "supreme facility," and "impeccable time" with which he plays. After a session at Mickey Hart's, Gil Evans noted to Airto: "everything he plays sounds right," and David Sanborn responded to a show at New York's Village Gate with a surprise kiss!
After childhood classical flute and choral performance, Paul's junior high band director handed him a saxophone to learn. He was soon gigging on it. Paul earned his BA in Music from Yale University in 1978, and then began freelancing in New York, where he studied privately with Kenny Werner, Dave Liebman, and Lee Konitz, and supplemented his income accompanying dance classes for Merce Cunningham Studio, Dan Wagoner, NYU and Princeton University. It was during this period, while working with Grammy nominee Thiago de Mello's Brazilian big band "Amazon," that Paul began developing the unique approach to the piccolo with which he consistently ignites audiences.
Paul responded to simultaneous tour invitations in 1982 from Buddy Rich and Brazilian Jazz legends Airto and Flora Purim by becoming the only "gringo" in the all-Brazilian group, and toured the US for the next year and a half, where he appeared at major clubs, theaters, and festivals, performed for audiences of up to 30,000, and made his Lincoln Center debut.
An invitation to move to Brazil led Paul to Rio de Janeiro from 1985 to 1989, where he found the love of his life, adapted so well as to be regularly presumed a native, and became Brazil's first call studio sax and flute player, recording on over 50 albums and many jingles and TV soundtracks, which in turn led to arranging and producing work for CBS, Warner, and other labels.
Paul has performed and/or recorded with Pat Metheny, David Sanborn, Don Grusin, Jaco Pastorius, Mickey Hart, Taj Mahal, Jaki Byard, David "Fathead" Newman, Bernard Purdy, Lew Soloff, Paquito D'Rivera, Ronnie Foster, Claudio Roditi, Dick Oatts, Conrad Herwig, Brian Lynch, Wayne Bergeron, Arturo O'Farrill, David Berkman, Bobby Sanabria, The Temptations, David Byrne, and even Zippy the Chimp, as well as Brazilian stars such as Simone, Chico Buarque, Djavan, Milton Nascimento, Toninho Horta, Alcione, Joao Bosco, Leny Andrade, Miucha, and Roberto Carlos, along with a veritable Who's Who of Brazil's top instrumental artists, including Hermeto Pascoal, Cesar Camargo Mariano, and many, many others.
In addition to extended gigs at such New York music shrines as Sweet Basil and SOB's and national tours of the U.S. and Brazil, Paul has also performed in Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Hawaii, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, and Wales.
After a temporary 2006 appointment as Adjunct Professor of Jazz Theory and Improvisation at UMass Amherst, Paul earned his Master's degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging there while continuing teaching, and has now been appointed a full-time Jazz Faculty member. In addition to the classroom teaching he also leads a big band, coaches small groups, and gives private lessons in both improvisation and jazz saxophone. Paul makes outside Featured Artist and Master Class appearances at the high school and college level, and has recently appeared as guest soloist with such groups as Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
Currently, besides his regular appearances with groups led by three different Grammy winners--pianists Jeff Holmes and Paul Sullivan and Allman Brothers drummer Jaimoe--and the Brazilian music group Nos Daqui, Paul leads his own groups, and is involved in development of a new show by his old friends, the world renowned Young@Heart Chorus, subject of an award winning Fox Searchlight documentary.