Paul Nash

Biography by

Innovative, cerebral jazz composer whose works were a combination of cool detachment and burning intensity.
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Orchestral jazz composer and guitarist Paul Nash was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1948. The son of a classical pianist, he earned his first fleeting taste of musical success in 1966 when one of his many teenage rock bands appeared between a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix and headliner the Blues Project at the legendary Greenwich Village nightclub Café Wha? After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 1972, Nash relocated to San Francisco, earning his master's degree in composition from Mills College four years later; he then founded the ten-piece Paul Nash Ensemble, which included trumpeter Mark Isham and drummer Eddie Marshall. In 1979 he issued his debut recording, A Jazz Composer's Ensemble. Second Impression followed in 1985, with Night Language appearing in 1987. That same year, Nash was also a central figure in the creation of the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, a collective that featured a string quartet in its performances of new works by contemporary composers. The BAJCO experience continued shaping Nash's music upon his return to New York in 1990 -- with the formation of the Manhattan New Music Project, an ensemble boasting as many as 16 members dedicated to premiering works by composers including Neal Kirkwood, Bruce Williamson, and others. The MNMP produced two LPs: 1993's Mood Swing and 2000's Soul of Grace. Around 1997 Nash began experimenting with site-specific compositions. The most successful, "Still Sounds Run Deep," requires musicians to arrange themselves around large public areas, performing in harmony with ambient sounds while maintaining connections to the original score and their fellow players via stopwatches and written instructions. Nash died in Manhattan on January 27, 2005, of complications from a brain tumor; he was 56 years old.