Modern Day Rolling Stone
By Shelly Aucoin
Worcester native and accomplished musician Paul Buono, who currently lives in Queens, NY (but jokes that “I pay rent in NY ~ I drive a lot for gigs between Worcester, Boston, CT, NY, NJ…”), has traveled some pretty high roads in the music world. Starting off as a piano student at the [now closed] Performing Arts School of Worcester (PASOW), he’s gone on to perform with the famous Wynton Marsalis, Regina Carter, Abigail Riccards, Lage Lund, Antonio Hart, and the season one winner of NBC’s “The Voice,” Javier Colon.
In September, Paul, who is about to turn 31, provided musical composition and direction for the music-dance show BLINK, produced by Boston-based Jazz Inc. The production ran for five shows at the Oberon in Harvard Square and was part of Jazz Inc.’s ongoing mission to offer a unique music-art fusion experience. Paul explains, “The idea behind BLINK is to be interactive with the audience. The theatre space – Oberon – is sort of a non-traditional theatre, so there is no ‘stage’ per se; the dance happens all around the theatre while the audience is right there in the middle of it.”
Paul has given music instruction at a variety of highly regarded schools such as Clark and Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he currently teaches an orchestration and harmony class. Under Paul’s instruction WPI students are trained to take on challenging assignments such as arranging for string quartet and jazz ensemble. He also appears in clinician videos for Latin Percussion and Alesis.
As for his own education, Paul went to UMASS Amherst for undergrad, Aaron Copland School of Music for grad studies, and Western New England University School of Law. He studied music with Eugene Uman at UMass and during grad school learned from Sir Roland Hanna, Michael Mossman, David Berkman, and Bruce Barth.
Paul’s most envious gig might be the years he spent as Music Director on the cruise ships Princess and Cunard where he got to travel to Tahiti, the Caribbean and Alaska. “The shows on all the ships were production shows, like Broadway musicals… huge productions, specifically commissioned and staged for Cunard,” Paul says.
Recently he’s been performing in New York City with some pretty big names: singer-songwriter Dan Mackenzie who wrote for Joss Stone and co-wrote the latest Martin Sexton album, singer-songwriter Jeff Tohuy, and Jay Stollman who is famous for writing the Today Show theme.
“Dan Mackenzie is a great songwriter, actually one of the best – his lyrics are always incredibly thoughtful and deeply-pondered,” Paul adds. “When Martin Sexton was getting ready to tour, Dan called him up in front of me and said ‘I got a great keyboard player – you gotta put this guy on your tour.’ Unfortunately, Martin already had his band in place but that was the moment where I looked at Dan as a friend and not just a musical associate.”
Paul is currently working on a very hush-hush legal project for upcoming contestants of “The Voice.” While he can’t say much about that project, he is happy to share that he’s also involved in an ongoing project called the Jazz History Database. The database covers detailed information about musicians, discussion of musical events, extensive media publications and audio collections. “The Jazz History Database is cool,” says Paul. “It’s the creation of Richard Falco, a great local guitarist and teacher, WPI professor of music, and all-around nice guy. He brought me onboard the project for some of the intellectual property and general legal issues he was encountering.” Readers can check it out at jazzhistorydatabase.com.
Paul is now writing new music and hopes to start recording soon. The players are assembled for the new compositions; all that remains is to work out scheduling conflicts. One thing is certain – we can’t wait to see what’s next for this modern day rolling stone.
Photo by Justin Perry
2 Comments »
Leave a comment