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Paul Cram: Biography

Paul Cram
1952 - 2018
Region: Atlantic

Paul Cram

Paul Cram was born in Victoria, British Columbia on August 11, 1952. In 1960 he moved to Vancouver where he began studying the clarinet and later the tenor saxophone as a result of his excitement for jazz music, especially the music of the late John Coltrane. He played in many diverse groups. In 1974 Cram began studies at the University of British Columbia where he completed a Bachelor of Music in 1978. At UBC he discovered composition and was encouraged to write by the faculty which then included Cortland Hultberg and Elliot Weisgarber.

During his university years Cram collaborated with musicians off-campus to form the New Orchestra Quintet and later New Orchestra Workshop. He also worked with pianist Al Neil and composer Don Druick. In 1980 he attended a workshop at the Banff Centre and studied with Sam Rivers, Dave Holland and Frederic Rzewski.

In 1982 he formed the Paul Cram Trio and toured nationally. In Toronto he formed several successful groups: The Solar System Saxophone Quartet; The Kings of Sming; The Paul Cram Quintet; and the Paul Cram Orchestra. Cram's Toronto legacy is Hemispheres, a fifteen piece new jazz/new music ensemble which he co-founded in 1987.

In 1989 he moved with his family to Halifax where he now resides. In Halifax he is currently a member of Upstream, a new music ensemble made up of local composer/performers. He also tours with the Cram/Ellis Duo and writes scores for theatre, film and dance.

Most of Cram's compositions are terrain for the improvisor. His work has been described as exotic and accessible with strong melodic ideas and a driving rhythmic sensibility. The music is renaissance in spirit, iconoclastic in form, and falls in the crack between contemporary music and jazz.

Cram's music has been broadcast on the CBC on programs such as Two New Hours and Jazzbeat. He has recorded two albums under his own name: Blues Tales in Time and Beyond Benghazi , both of which were nominated for Juno Awards for Best Jazz Album. He has also been the recipient of numerous Canada Council Awards.

He is currently Artistic Director of Upstream Music Association.



Atlantic Musician's Association

Atlantic Canadian Composer's Association


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