Biography of Paul Amrod
He received his musical education at the world-renowned Juilliard School. In 1979 after a seven year tour, either as a soloist or with his Trio or Quartet through the east coast and the New Yorker Jazz scene and as the opening band for such acts as Janis Joplin, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and the NRBQ, he returned to Juilliard and closed out with a Masters Degree, majoring in Composition. In New York he was involved in writing arrangements for A&M Records and was a Studio pianist for Columbia Records. In his earlier days he sang in choirs under the direction of Leonard Bernstein.
At the age of nine he began making music with his brother Willy. He started writing his own songs at eleven and at the age of fifteen he began the Brand XXX Band with Willy together. In 1967 they made their first demo at the local radio station in Rockland County and therewith interested Seymour Stein and Sire Records to sign the band to their first record contract. As they were recording their first record they were offered to be the opening act for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Janis Joplin shortly before her New York Concert when she left the Big Brother and the Holding Company and presented her Kosmic Blues Band.
Two months before the Woodstock festival Paul was admitted into the Juilliard where he enrolled as a composition major. During his first two years he worked intensively with Roger Session learning five-voice Renaissance counterpoint. This brought an entirely new dimension to Paul’s earlier compositions. In his first year he composed and recorded his second record “Live on the Playground” for his psychedelic rock band “Amrod’s Brand”. It was released in 1971 and is still sought after as a rare collector’s item. It was produced from Phil Margo of the Tokens for B.T. Puppy records. In 1969 both Willy and Paul began performing as the opening act for NRBQ and even Willy with the Willy Amrod Band just recently opened with Terry Adam’s new NRBQ in Woodstock on the 2nd of April 2011.
Willy and Paul played with the guitarist from the NRBQ, Steve Ferguson during the 1970ties and Willy further through the 1980ties and ‘90ties. The NRBQ’s second record from 1970 featured Carl Perkins and was called “Boppin’ the Blues” with many mind-blowing solos from Steve. There is a video in YouTube with Willy and Steve rocking Steve’s “Outer Space Boogie”. Carl Perkins was held very highly from the Beatles who covered many of his songs. From “Something New” his song “Matchbox” is found. From the “Beatle 65” they covered the titles “Honey Don’t” and “Everybody’s Tryin’ to be my Baby”. Carl Perkins, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Eric Clapton gave a series of Rockabilly concerts together in the 1980ties. The bassist from the NRBQ Joey Spampinato was also invited by Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones to form the band behind Chuck Berry, whom the Beatles as well covered, at Mister Berry’s 70th Birthday bash. One day in the fall of 1970 Paul took Terry Adam’s personally to meet Hall Overton at the Juilliard and both had an engaging conversation over the voicings of Thelonious Monk.
During his third year at Juilliard Paul changed over to Hall Overton who was as well the arranger for Thelonious Monk’s Big Band. With Hall he studied in depth motific development, modern harmony and orchestration. In this year Paul formed his first Rock-Jazz-Fusion group with Willy and the drummer Gary Burke. Gary Burke is the producer and drummer for both of his brother Willy’s CDs “Children of the Earth” and “Bus-Drivin’ Man”. Symphony #1 from Joe Jackson was performed with Gary Burke on drums, Joe Jackson on Piano, Steve Vai on guitar and trumpeter Terrence Blanchard and trombonist Robin Eubanks in 1999. Paul and Willy Amrod performed with Gary at the Juilliard and the School of the Performing Arts Paul’s composition “Concertino for Rock-Jazz Band” in the spring of 1972.
Hall Overton Ruth Underwood and her husband Ian Underwood who worked intensively with Frank Zappa were in attendance at the Juilliard concert. During his fourth year, after the death of Hall Overton, he studied further with George Russell, the creator of the “Lydian Chromatic Concept” and Gil Evans the longtime arranger for Miles Davis. Paul commenced working on his own theory called “Symmetry as the Fundament of Sound Creation” in 1973 and presented the inception for his Baccalaureate degree. For seven years after his Bachelor’s, along with touring, he worked in the Loft scene in Soho and played in Harlem and the Village performing a form of compositional jazz. During this time he played occasionally with Ron Carter, Sonny Rollins, Bob Berg, Dave Sanborn, Corky Laing and the Brecker Brothers. In 1979 he returned to Juilliard with a piece for Chamber Orchestra and Soprano and Baritone called “Qabalic Mysterium” which was performed from the Juilliard Orchestra. Paul received the National Endowment of the Arts award for Jazz Composition with a recommendation from his longstanding mentor Gil Evans.
Shortly thereafter Paul decided to situate in Europe. He performed as “Fats Waller” in a show called “Lenox Avenue” in Berlin and Vienna from 1982 till 1983 receiving wonderful critiques and decided to stay. He began thereafter to write an autobiographical piece about his eclectic musicianship playing classical works jazz works and the fusion of jazz, rock and classical developing the name “Jarockla” to describe it. It was recorded in the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt in 1984. During his time in Europe Willy organized other groups and played with various important personalities and brought his brother home to play the piano and organ on various projects. During the 1980ties Willy became close to Rick Danko the bassist from the Woodstock based outfit “The Band”. Rick and Willy played quite often together. Rick Danko was the first bassist who was chosen in 1988 to build the Ringo Starr All Star Band.
With the onset of the 1990ties Paul flew often to New York to record and perform with Gary Burke and the James Brown Brass including Maceo Parker, Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley. In YouTube there is video posted with Paul Amrod and the JB Horns playing “Chicken” from Pee Wee Ellis who wrote “Cold Sweat” and “I’m Black and I’m Proud” with James Brown himself. Fred Wesley the trombonist wrote the hit “Hot Pants” as well. Pee Wee also played and arranged for the icon Van Morrison. Pee Wee wrote the arrangements for Willy’s “Children of the Earth”.
Also Fred wrote an arrangement for “Parallel Universe”. Paul is featured on the keys. Maceo Parker is also featured on Alto Sax. There is also a track of “Make it Alright” featuring the entire original NRBQ, outside the drummer Tom Staley, which is a twist on the hit from their 3rd Album “Scraps” released on Kama Sutra records “Ain’t It Alright” featuring Steve Ferguson and Frankie Gadler on vocals. The NRBQ premiered the “Scraps” Kama Sutra record at the New York Beacon Theater opening for Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi Fusion ensemble. Willy is featured as the lyricist and singer of “Everywhere is Out of Town” from Fred’s New CD “With a Little Help from my Friends” and was with Fred last fall on his European Tour. The second CD of Willy “Bus-Drivin’ Man” has Paul on piano and Hammond B3 and is arranged from Fred Wesley and will be released this year. In the year 2000 Paul was asked from Mister Wesley to write an orchestral variation of his “Peace Fugue”.
Paul’s theory “Symmetry as the Fundament of Sound Creation” will be published as well later this year. Paul has written up till now 39 Symphonies and 70 Piano Sonatas and various third stream works, chamber works, choral works and 18 concertos for piano and for many other solo instruments. The Piano Sonatas are all recorded and many concerts will be coming on DVD at his website.
Paul Amrod's Works:
Symmetrie as the Fundament of Sound Creation
Symmetrie als Grundprinzip der Klangschöpfung
Sieben Besinnliche Klavier Stücke
Drei Vertonungen von Marianne Dora Rein
String Quartet #1
Paul Amrod Poems
on the tip of autumn’s breeze.
It’s the poetry of life found and never lost
Feeling comfortably at ease
Waking to clouds brings me down to sweet airs
Blue Autumn Angel please ease your sighing
Sleeping to moons brings me Venus in pairs
Pleading my innocence with a song left unsung
Easing my troubles with liquor and cigarettes
Trying to imagine what happened inside the silhouettes
The power is in the hands of a band of lunatics
The articulated dissent is a form of conspiracy
Although the logic is obvious, we live in tyranny
We call Saint Valentine’s Day
Our heart’s throbbing play
to raise our passions
A Hymn Of Self-Esteem
Indigenous choruses in the realms of seraphim
have impelled our genesis
to flourish in multitudes encircling the sacrosanct
as they petition their wishes.
The tedious necromancy raises a cloak
to ensorcell the faithful and naive
cuddling their gullibility as their chastity
enlightens the environment with eloquence
while radiating beams illuminate