Artist Bios

Paul Peress, percussion

Photo Credit: Jana Krenova

Photo Credit: Jana Krenova

Paul is the son of a prolific poet, and an accomplished classical music conductor. Of Puerto Rican heritage, Paul grew up on the Gulf of Mexico in Corpus Christi, Texas. When he turned 5, his aunt sent him a "music minus one for drummers" record, with a pair of drumsticks; he was transfixed, and immediately started lobbying to play the drums. So, for his 6th birthday, a big package came in the mail - and after Paul tore it open, he found nestled inside, a shiny, delicate violin. He thus began with the violin at the age of 6, switched to trumpet at 12, playing in the Jr. High School marching band, yet always rallying to play the drums. His father got the post as music director of the Kansas City Philharmonic, and after the move, Paul befriended the principal percussionist, Vince Bilardo, who helped convince Paul's father to get him a drumset; so, at 17, Paul got a set of red-sparkle Gretsch drums!

That Fall, he loaded his drums into his MGB, and moved to New York City, living in Hell's Kitchen, and putting himself through night school at Hunter College for 2 semesters. His high grades enabled him to transfer to Columbia University, where he studied economics, art history, and poli-sci, finishing in 2 years. While at Columbia, he worked nights, and studied drums privately with Kenwood Dennard, then Kim Plainfield. Both of them heavily influenced him in the Latin jazz and Brazilian genres.

After finishing school, Paul's first project was a jazz/rock band, Double Exposure, which he co-led with his sister - singer/songwriter Anika Paris. They put out a CD in 1990 as the band was appearing at several hot spots in New York, including the now defunct Mikell's. The band had a Steely Dan edge to it, and portentously featured several future Steely Dan sidemen, including Jon Herington, Drew Zing, and Tom Barney. The band broke up in 1990, and Paul began working around town in various projects, including, in 1994, leading the house bandat Chicago B.L.U.E.S. He landed a weekly Brazilian gig at the Citrus Lounge - running from 1995 to 1998 - and started working with some of NYC's greatest Latin artists; this led to his first big break as a solo artist - an appearance with his band at the first annual St. Kitts Music Festival in 1996, and he was asked back in '99, '02, and '05.

Highlights of 2005: Paul's band traveled from NY to Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, California, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and stops in between, appearing at major venues, including headlining the Heinekin Jazz Festival, appearing at Lincoln Center, opening for Wyclef Jean, and return engagements at BET Jazz St. Lucia Festival, the St. Kitts Music Festival, and Kaslo Jazz Etc Festival...

Highlights of 2006: Paul produced a concert series at the NY Historical Society, paralleling their exhibit, "Slavery in New York". Peress' concerts – featuring Arturo O'Farrill, Candido, and Guy Davis – demonstrated the great influence that enslaved people had on music in and about the US. His group also performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival and 3 other NYC festivals, was the featured band at Puerto Rico's Festival Internacional de Jazz Latino, worked with MOBY, played for Jimmy Heath's 80 birthday and Candido's 85th birthday celebrations...

Highlights of 2007: Paul toured the West Coast from Orange County to Los Angeles to Studio Cityto Berkeley to Sausalito, appearing with Kai Eckhardt and Frank Martin at the Berkeley Jazz Festival, and Russell Ferrante, Ric Fierabracci, and Gary Meek at the famed LaVeLee Jazz Club. His final stop on that tour had him headlining at the Sausalito Women's Club's annual gala. Paul also toured with Guy Davis & the High Flying Rockets - appearances included the Pittsburgh Blues Festival, NYC's Summer on the Hudson, and Harmony on the Hudson where he also played with Tom Chapin's band.

Lately, Paul has been appearing monthly at Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar in NY, traveling often for work on the West Coast, and writing voraciously – the result is his new, all original CD "Can't Let Go"!