biography

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.