Take Five With Paul Zaborac


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Meet Paul Zaborac:

Paul Zaborac is a versatile saxophonist, composer, and educator. Born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1987, he began studying the saxophone at the age of 11. After receiving a bachelor degree in music education from Simpson College (2010), he proceeded to obtain a master of music degree in saxophone performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2012, where he was the recipient of the prestigious Albert Scholarship for Postgraduates and served as a research assistant. On his debut album Actualize, he explores in original compositions how the saxophone can be used as an accompaniment instrument in improvised music through the use of extended techniques. In 2011 Paul had the opportunity to perform internationally in China and Hong Kong with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Saxophone Quartet. Paul has also performed at the biennial conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance in 2010 and 2008, which included performing on a masterclass for Jean-Michel Goury. He has also made soloist appearances with the Simpson College Symphonic Wind Ensemble as a winner of the concerto competition in 2007 and 2009.



Teachers and/or influences?

My two main saxophone teachers have been Dave Camwell and Michael Duke.

Some of my influences are: Jeff Coffin, Benny Carter, Cannonball Adderley, Chris Potter, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, The Bad Plus, Robert Glasper, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones. Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Rimsky Korsakov, Christian Lauba, and many others.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I knew I wanted to play music after I saw a Béla Fleck and the Flecktones concert. I had been playing my instrument for a while already, but seeing them live was a very inspiring experience. I also always enjoyed playing in my high school jazz band, which also was a contributing factor.

Your sound and approach to music:

I believe that music is about communicating with other people through the expression of ideas and emotions. In trying to accomplish this, I strive to find the right sounds and techniques to convey what I am trying to say. Technique is a means through which to communicate with ones instrument, not an end in itself. My sound is the result of all my musical influences and includes a wide range and variety of music. However, I feel that my sound is still evolving and developing. I have also been experimenting with incorporating extended techniques into my playing and how they can be used to allow the saxophone to function in a non-melodic role, such as accompaniment or texture.

Your teaching approach:

As a teacher, I view myself as a guide and mentor to my students, helping them to navigate the obstacles on the path of becoming a musician and saxophonist. Therefore, I strive to teach students how to teach themselves through developing their critical thinking skills and by providing them tools to help them be effective at practicing. I believe this is important because it helps to develop a sense of student ownership in their learning and facilitates developing the student's unique musical voice. I try to accomplish this through using a combination of demonstration, discovery learning, and verbal instruction to teach my students. I also believe that each student is unique, and therefore should be taught based on their current needs and interests as a student. Lastly, I feel music should be a fun, enriching, and enjoyable experience. Allowing the students a means to express themselves through music and enjoy themselves while doing so will hopefully create a life long appreciation of music and the lessons it can teach.

Your dream band:

An ideal band to me is one in which all the musicians in it are really committed to making music and also have open minds and ears that are always listening. I feel an empathetic and open environment where there is mutual respect amongst the members of the band is the most ideal setting for creating music with other people. And when these other musicians are also great players, I think beautiful music of the highest caliber can be made.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

I think the first jazz album I bought was Saxophone Colossus, by Sonny Rollins. However, one of the first jazz albums I got my hands on was one of my dad's records called Basie Jam 2. I remember listening to both of these albums a lot when I first started playing.

CDs you are listening to now:

Brad Mehldau, Brad Mehldau Trio Live (Nonesuch);

Chris Potter, The Sirens (ECM);

Charlie Hunter, Copperopolis (Rope-a-Dope);

Christian McBride, Live at Tonic (Rope-a-Dope);

John Coltrane, Crescent (Impulse!).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

I think the creation of the music itself is going well. There are a lot of great musicians out there making inspired music. However, I think an area of concern, or one of the challenges of musicians today, is finding and developing a larger audience for the music. Without healthy audiences, it is harder to sustain the creation of new music.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

I think one of the most essential things to keep jazz alive and growing is education. Not only to nurture and develop the next generation of musicians, but to also to develop appreciation and audiences for the art form. Therefore it is important to keep music education happening in all of our schools. Even though only a few students will go on to pursue music professionally, those that do not will have gained an appreciation and enjoyment of music that they will carry throughout their lives. Students that experience the enriching and positive effects of music are more likely to go to concerts as adults, support the arts, and pass their enjoyment of music on to their children. Education is therefore essential in both creating musicians of the highest caliber and appreciative audiences that are necessary for ensuring the future of jazz music.

What is in the near future?

I am currently writing new music. This includes music for my trio as well as some ideas for a quartet and larger ensembles. I am also considering the possibility of doing a tour in the fall with my trio.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Paul Zaborac

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