Tuesday, October 25, 2011

All that Jazz

Photo Credit: paulbeaudry.com 

Paul Mueller is an Economic Affairs Associate at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad. He is a former opera singer and multi-instrumentalist, not to mention a huge jazz fan!

When I first heard Beaudry and Pathways, a rush of memories flooded back – lazy summer nights in Seattle’s Jazz Alley and New York City’s Blue Note and Birdland.  Jazz, at its finest, has this uncanny ability to make the listener feel like they are more alive, more present in the moment, and Paul Beaudry is a musical matador in this arena.

Not only is he among the most promising young jazz musicians that America has to offer, he is one of those rare composers with an even rarer talent for conveying his emotions so precisely through melody that I almost feel I know what he was thinking when he wrote it.  Growing up in California, Beaudry was inspired by the giants of cool jazz and bebop, the music of Miles Davis and Dizzie Gillespie permanently imbedding their sounds into his style. I hear the influence of the jazz greats in his music, the soft imprint of Paul Chambers, the bittersweet ode to Joe Henderson, and yet Paul Beaudry’s compositions are all his own. As a musician myself, I understand how fully influences from one’s youth can continue to permeate one’s music.

Inspired though he was, Beaudry seemed destined for a Silicon Valley life, working steadily as a software engineer, suppressing his love for jazz into a weekend hobby.  All that changed, however, in 1996 when Paul packed his bags and moved to the East Coast to follow his dream of playing jazz for a living.  In 2001 he made the move to New York, a move that would allow Mr. Beaudry to immerse himself in the rich music scene of smoky clubs and dimly lit bars, the places were cool jazz comes to life.  It was there that he came to observe, cherish, and polish the things that simply can’t be taught in school, things like how to be present in every moment during his performances and how to be completely honest with an audience.

The roots of Jazz trace themselves back to African American blues music of the early 20th century.  It’s the quintessential music of America, and its improvisation and originality lend themselves to musicians who are most comfortable when taking risks.  Beaudry embodies these characteristics fully, his original style leading the audience to hang on to his every note, the listener not always sure where he is taking them, but thoroughly enjoying the ride.

The band Beaudry and Pathways have toured Central America, the Caribbean, and Central Asia as Jazz Ambassadors with the U.S. State Department. The quartet comprises Paul Beaudry (bass and vocals), Tim Armacost (tenor and soprano saxophones), Bennett Paster (piano and keyboards), and Tony Jefferson (drums and percussion). A mix of original compositions and a sampling of the great jazz standards has led to success for the band, who believe that making music should be exciting, emotionally engaging, and fun.

Today, Beaudry and Pathways will perform in Hyderabad’s Shilparaman outdoor auditorium. The intermingling of instruments floating through the soft breeze will undoubtedly make for a memorable concert, and with Beaudry’s unique combination of influences and personal style, a concert we won’t soon forget.

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