Jazz composer/saxophonist Paul Cram was born on August 11, 1952, in Victoria, British Columbia. At the age of eight, Cram and his family relocated to Vancouver, where the youngster first took up the clarinet, then the tenor saxophone (inspired by the great John Coltrane). Playing in a variety of local bands during his teenage years, Cram enrolled into the University of British Columbia during the early '70s, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree of music in 1978. During his college years, Cram began writing his own compositions as well as collaborating with other musicians, leading to the formation of the New Orchestra Quintet and the New Orchestra Workshop. By 1982, Cram was ready to give it a go on his own, as he formed the Paul Cram Trio and scored a Juno-nominated album the same year with Blue Tales in Time.
Subsequently, Cram formed other Toronto-based outfits, including the Solar System Saxophone Quartet, the Kings of Sming, the Paul Cram Quintet, the Paul Cram Orchestra, and Hemispheres (the latter of which was a 15-piece ensemble). 1987 saw the release of Cram's second album (and second to be nominated for a Juno Award), Beyond Benghazi, before Cram and his family relocated in 1989 to Halifax. Shortly after his arrival in his newly adopted hometown, Cram formed another new outfit, Upstream, who issued their debut recording in 1992, Open Waters. Additionally, Cram toured as part of the Cram/Ellis Duo and he became the executive director of the Sming Productions Company, which produces original scores for film, video, multimedia, theater, and dance. 2001 saw the release of a live album by the Paul Cram Orchestra, titled Campin Out.