Pianist Paul Tobey - Jazz Pianist

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"A Glimpse into Life
and Career of Jazz Pianist
Paul Tobey"

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Pianist Paul Tobey was born the son of Rev. Arthur and Joy Tobey; the middle child of three siblings. Living on a minister’s salary meant a tough go for this young family and with no record player in the home; popular music was simply not a large part of Paul’s formative years. At the age of eight, church organist and pianist Mark Perry agreed to give Paul piano lessons. Paul’s mother would save up .50 cents so that every Friday evening the aspiring pianist could buy a hamburger after school on his way to his piano lesson – a boyhood memory he still cherishes to this day.

Listen to Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey

Without a doubt, Paul was immediately absorbed by the piano, and by age nine he’d already developed a competitive spirit and won many pianist performance awards at the local Kiwanis Festival. His mother never had to remind him to practice as his own self-discipline and love for the piano kept him going.

During a field trip to Toronto to see jazz pianist Oscar Peterson perform, Paul connected with jazz and he quickly switched gears leaving behind his classical pianist training. After graduating from the Concordia University with a Degree in Music, Tobey chose Montreal as the home base to launch his career. The next 15 years on the Canadian jazz scene would become fertile grooming grounds to polish a young virtuoso pianist. Not only would Paul be hailed for his mastery as a pianist, he would become what the media dubbed “a legend in the making”.

From classical to jazz to popular piano music, Paul has always charted a distinctive path. As a young emerging artist and pianist, he accepted jobs as Musical Director on various Cruise Lines to make ends meet. In 1993, he met and married a Montréal native, Nancy, who eventually took the reins of his career. As an emerging manager, Nancy booked Paul to major contracts headlining in Dubai - United Arab Emirates. Successfully fostering relationships with Arab Royalty, Tobey would be the first prominent jazz pianist in the Middle East with appearances in Bahrain, Fujairah, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. Paul and Nancy’s partnership proved to be a successful one, as she continued to book Tobey at home and abroad in countries such as The Netherlands, United States, Europe and Japan.

In 1994 Paul Tobey’s first jazz pianist album “Orpheus” ( jazz pianist ) was released through the Hilton Hotel Chain in the Middle East. His second album “Wayward” (jazz pianist)distributed by Fusion III would propel the jazz pianist in front of Canadian audiences and critics, garnering him numerous favourable reviews. However, it wasn’t until his third Album “Street Culture” (jazz pianist) did Tobey get the attention of the international Jazz Media, garnering him rave reviews, a Juno Nomination, an 8 record deal with Arkadia Jazz in New York, and airplay on radio stations and airlines around the world.

Listen to Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey

Unfortunately, the couple’s mounting success turned into a personal nightmare, when in early 1999, Paul awoke one day with a severe case of Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears). This form of chronic tinnitus would change both of their lives forever. Paul’s constant physical suffering led him on a downward spiral into chronic depression. The pianist sought medical attention and he and Nancy scoured the globe to find a cure but, there was none to be found. At the same time, a political rift was developing in the jazz industry between Nancy and two key prominent figures in jazz. As the fight escalated Paul grew more and more disillusioned with the jazz music scene. Eventually, in support of his wife, and to give himself time for personal healing, he made the choice to walk away from his jazz career completely.This was a bold move at the time, but it would eventually open many doors which led to even greater musical opportunities.

Paul’s personal healing journey of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health was just beginning. In addition to Paul’s ongoing struggle with tinnitus, he and his wife were having some very tough legal battles in their professional lives. There were three defamation suits pending against leading jazz industry giants. Also, in the wake of 9/11, Paul’s New York based record label, Arkadia Jazz, was reneging on its contracts. During this difficult time Paul recorded his first solo jazz pianist CD “Live at the Glenn Gould.” It is very introspective account of Paul’s state of mind at the time. Though funded by the Ontario Arts Council, the album has never been released to the mainstream public.

Then, in the face of complete uncertainty, in a move that showed newly aquired confidence and inspired living, the Tobey’s decided to drop their law suits. They were quoted as saying “In order to attract the new, you must be willing to let go of the old”. Excited about letting go of the negative energy, they refocused their attention to doing what they love and began to reinvent their lives and forge new more mainstream audience.

Paul’s next self produced album, Live at the Sanderson, featured a whole new side to his music. Under the direction of veteran Producer Bruce Davidsen (best known for his work with pianist Frank Mills, pianist Haygood Hardy and Anne Murray), Tobey worked at becoming much less cerebral in his playing style. He adopted an entertainment style that would showcase a collection of popular instrumental pianist pieces using a mix of jazz, classical and popular music.

The critics began to rave about the pianist's “entertainment style” and “technique”. It was the birth of a whole new showman! Both the album and live concerts garnered new fans, magazine covers and more sales. This album was awarded Pianist of the Year, and ironically Jazz Album of the Year. But, the ultimate reward was Paul’s growing audiences and sold-out performances.

In the spring of 2004, Paul achieved a personal triumph when he trekked a spiritual pilgrimage on the Road to Santiago. While walking the 850 km across Northern Spain, Paul composed 22 new compositions including 9 for himself on piano and full symphony orchestra. Paul is currently perfecting these arrangements for his World Premiere of the Road to Santiago Suite to be performed with the Brantford Symphony February 18th, 2007.

In addition to the music created during his pilgrimage he and his partner, documentary filmmaker Drew Dekker, shot over 60 hours of film. Paul has so far produced 2 short documentaries from the footage: The Brotherhood about the famous Gregorian Chanting Monks of the Benedictine Order from Santo Domingo de Silos, and Oh Ye of Little Faith, which tells an inspiring personal journey of faith and creativity.

As fate would have it, and because of his growing notoriety, Paul started getting numerous requests to give motivational and inspirational seminars. With over 30 speaking engagements booked, he decided to acquire some training skills and became a certified trainer. He also started adding motivational products to his catalogue. Fans can now download online seminars, meditation recordings, films and books. Paul’s subscription list has grown to over 10,000 people in under a year. His journey with tinnitus became very public as Tinnitus Today the journal of the American Tinnitus Association published his story.

However, Tobey’s resurgence into the limelight was to be sidelined once again as his mother was diagnosed in the advanced stages of Multiple Myeloma and kidney failure. Joy Tobey, also affectionately known as Mrs. Clause, was an avid lover of Christmas music. In late 2005, with time quickly running out for his mother, the pianist set up an impromptu recording session and recorded “Christmas at the Piano”; with the arrangements and production taking less than 10 days to complete.

Listen to Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey

Paul also mounted a Christmas concert at the same time which was to be the last time his mother ever saw him perform. The community responded in numbers to the live concert, and over 600 tickets were sold in less than 10 days.

Ball Media delivered the CD to the concert hot off the presses only one hour before curtain call. More than 320 CD’s were sold during the 15 minute intermission, and the morning paper headlines read “A Frenzied Mob Right About New Tobey CD”. But the best part is that Paul had granted his mother’s final Christmas wish as she was wheeled into the concert hall for one last concert.

She died only a few short weeks later and as she lay in the hospital emergency room she requested a CD player from the staff so she could pass away while listening to her son’s music. With her favourite piece “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” playing in the background she slid into a coma and died the same day Jan. 25th 2006. Paul’s Christmas at the Piano remains a deeply personal project with enormous amount of love poured into each and every Christmas medley.

And for many of these reasons, jazz pianist Paul Tobey has learned to be a multi-dimensional artist. From jazz, classical to popular music performance, from filmmaking, composing for cinema to public speaking, he’s an artist that crosses all demographics in his appeal. Recently, in June 2006 he triumphed at the Montreal Jazz Festival which was his first return to jazz audiences since 2002.

On Feb. 18th 2007, Paul debuts his Road to Santiago Suite with Symphony – an eclectic mix of inspiring instrumental pianist music utilizing all his styles including Spanish folk, jazz pianist, classical and popular piano. To be continued…

Listen to Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey

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What makes pianist Paul Tobey's Concerts so different? Click here to find out!

" Pianist Paul Tobey is a dynamic individual. He is a natural in front of the audience both when he speaks and plays. His witty banter is very entertaining but of course it is his musicianship that is most moving." Barrie Life ~ Review From 2006 Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival Read More

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What Are The Critics Saying
About Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey?

"One of Tobey's greatest gifts is his ability to improvise in the same league as J.S. Bach and come out sounding like an equal." Linda Geary, Brantford Expositor Read More

Pianist Paul Tobey
Pianist Paul Tobey
Jazz Quartet
Pianist Paul Tobey & Quartet

"There wasn't a soul in the audience who didn't come away thoroughly entertained." Harrie Currie, Kitchener Waterloo Record
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"Tobey gets right inside a piece and shows us what it is made of." Murray Charters Brantford Expositor
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Paul Tobey
Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey Addressing Crowd
Pianist Jazz
Jazz Pianist Paul Tobey at Christmas Concert

"Frenzied Mob Right About New Christmas CD" Murray Charters Brantford Expositor
Read More

Read More Reviews about Pianist Paul Tobey...

"Creativity has been a constant companion for pianist Paul Tobey as he treks 800 kilometers across France and Spain in a spiritual journey that will culminate in a documentary film." Read More About - A Journey of a Lifetime - Brantford Expositor

"Tobey, meanwhile, managed to hike 25 kilometers daily, an 18 kilo pack strapped to his lanky frame. Needing room for a keyboard and laptop computer, his backpack contained just two shirts, one pair of pants - meaning that day's clothing had to be washed out each night by hand. Food was a challenge: Tobey suffers from tinnitus, and finds that bread, cheese and wine- all staples of a pilgrim's diet in spain - aggravate his hearing condition." Read More - Brantford Expositor

"Paul Tobey, Canadian jazz man - yep, he's got it. Tobey has a refreshingly unique approach to jazz piano...a lot of things coming together to gel into an individualist's style that gives this quartet recording Tobey's own distinctive voice. I don't know what kind of audience he has, but he deserves a huge one." Read More - The American Reporter

"Shut your eyes and you begin to feel you're at a stageside table listening to this wonderful quartet on stage. I have to wonder: if an artist comes out of the gate with a release this good, where can he go from here?" Read More Sound Bytes

"The CD represents the arrival of a mature artist with not only a performance capacity of the highest level, but also the compositional imagination for a varied repertoire. Through perseverance and an abundance of extroverted talent, Paul Tobey finally has revealed himself to a wide international audience to be an outstanding pianist and a group leader who individualistically honors the jazz tradition, even as he extends it." Read more All About Jazz

"Tobey is light and exceedingly quick at the keyboard his right hand's a real marvel." Read More - Globe and Mail

"Here is some gorgeous, straight ahead jazz in a swinging, contemporary framework that sounds fresh, bright, at time even compelling. Contemporary Jazz does not get any better!" Read More - Montreal Gazette

"Paul Tobey is one of the finest jazz pianists to come out of Canada! His new CD collection, Street Culture, is without doubt one of the most polished and technically perfect jazz pianist outings to arrive in recent years, full of sensitive pianist phrasings, harmonic inventions, and notes that never miss their target!" Read More JazzReview.com

"When jazz fans hear Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck or Bill Evans, they know immediately who's playing. In the next couple of years the same will be true for Paul Tobey, for he has everything it takes to join the legends." Read More - Kitchener Record

"...it came as no surprise to read that Tobey studied with Kenny Barron. I was also reminded of keyboard artists such as Cedar Walton, George Cables and Tommy Flanagan. Like Tobey, each combines prodigious harmonic/melodic and pianistic chops to make music that ins never merely pleasant and unfailingly rich and deep." Read More - Jazz Weekly

"The first thing you notice from the opening title track of Paul Tobey's CD Street Culture is - man. These guys can play fast." Read More - Ottawa Citizen

Pianist, composer Paul Tobey, judging from Street Culture, may well turn out to be the next distinctive jazz pianist to emerge from Canada...outstanding album!" Read More - CD NOW

"Tobey is a highly skilled pianist who keeps original ideas flowing..." Read More. - Jazz USA

"Tobey earned a jazz studies degree from Concordia University by developing an agile, lyrical pianist style hinting at Bill Evans, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock...(the CD) demonstrated an extraordinary blend of balance and ensemble texture as well as the leader's flair for original compositions." Read More - Toronto Star

"Tobey plays with absolute assurance throughout, in a manner that has its sources in the harmonic feel of the late Bill Evans and the Keyboard approach of a Chick Corea." Read More - Opus Magazine

Perhaps the most rewarding discovery is Tobey's brilliance a the piano. He has magic in his right hand, which is constantly inventing. Read More - Planet Jazz

"His virility and passion recall a young Dodo Marmaros, who routinely combined single notes with five and six note clusters that burst at the seams, at times sounding like an entire brass section." Read More - Pittsburgh Post

"Paul Tobey whipped through a virtuoso demonstration of fat melodic invention. With Oscar Peterson-like flourish, his self-assured trio shot through standards and a few originals and standards with accomplished control..." Read More - Japan Times

More Local, National and US Reviews about Pianist Paul Tobey

Tobey's Gift to His Mom - Kitchener Record

Two Stories, One Impressive Gig - Globe and Mail

Music Fans Treated to a Marathon of Jazz - Edmonton Journal

Jazz Trio Triumphs Over Tedium - Fredericton Gleaner

Skills of Tobey Displayed in Sanderson Live CD - Brantford Expositor

Tobey's DVD Show You What You Missed - Brantford Expositor

Jazz 52nd Street

Tobey's Tunes Tickle Fancy - G21

A High-Caliber Session - Cadence

Wayward Is Anything But - Globe and Mail

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