Paul Shapiro

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Paul Shapiro is a saxophone and flute player, composer, and bandleader who has been on the New York City music scene since the 1980s. Born and raised on Long Island in Westbury, NY, Shapiro graduated…
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Take the Z Train
Paul Shapiro is a saxophone and flute player, composer, and bandleader who has been on the New York City music scene since the 1980s. Born and raised on Long Island in Westbury, NY, Shapiro graduated from public school and moved to Montreal, Canada, studying at the renowned McGill University, receiving his B.F.A. Returning to the metropolitan New York City area, he led the progressive funk band Foreign Legion, followed by a stint with the Microscopic Septet, replacing John Hagen after their first album, Take the Z Train. The '90s found Shapiro working with hip-hop producers, playing flute on the Frankie Knuckles U.K. hit "The Whistle Song" and soprano saxophone on Nuyorican Soul's "The Nervous Track," and also appearing on recordings by Queen Latifah, Naughty by Nature, Marc Anthony, and India. By 1994 he founded Brooklyn Funk Essentials, recording for RCA Victor and Shanachie Records. He charted the score to Cheryl Dunye's film The Watermelon Woman in 1998, William "Electric" Black's musical The Sun Gets Blue, and Presque Isle, a play by Joyce Carol Oates. He has also written commercial spots for MTV. By 2003, Shapiro became a leader in his own right as supported by John Zorn's Tzadik label in its Radical Jewish Culture series, including Midnight Minyan, It's in the Twilight, and Essen. As an accompanist, Shapiro has worked with Julius Hemphill, David Murray, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, Ben Folds Five, Khaled, Brian McKnight, Marshall Crenshaw, Ofra Haza, Wayne Horvitz, Craig Harris, and Elliott Sharp.