Now, 30 years later, the youthful Paulo enjoys wide recognition and respect among his musical peers in L.A. and the world over. He has toured and recorded with a tapestry of industry “big names” any contemporary saxophonist would hope to weave. Michael Paulo has been a featured saxophonist with Al Jarreau, James Ingram, No. 1 Smooth Jazz artists Rick Braun and Peter White, Oleta Adams, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Bobby Caldwell and Herbie Hancock.

Michael Paulo’s reputation as the no.1 Asian American Jazz artist is likely a direct result of his passion and planning. Having talent, being lucky and getting breaks are often factors in any success story. Yes, Michael Paulo is talented. More importantly, he had a plan.

“When I did have opportunities, I was free to do it because of my plan. The plan afforded me the time to woodshed, sit in, network and all those things. It helped me to become positioned for opportunities that I took advantage of later on.”

Speaking of his move to L.A. at age 19, Michael told this interviewer of his “plan.” Barely into the interview, it became apparent that Paulo is very driven toward success. He has talent, focus and drive. That’s a triple threat from a really nice guy.

Michael and I first spoke by cell phone to set up this interview. He picked up the phone and said it was a great time to set up the interview. He was in L.A. traffic, the scourge of every west coast saxophonist. After a friendly conversation we set up the interview presented below. Hopefully, Michael Paulo found an open lane on the highway too!



Michael, we met and hung out in Atlantic City almost 20 years ago.

Twenty years!? (Laughs)

I know it’s the truth. I don’t know how much you remember but you came over to my late night jazz gig at the Sands and sat in. You were with Al Jarreau at Trump Plaza at the time.

I remember.

A friend and I went to see your show with Al and sat up in the booth. All I knew at that time was Jarreau’s tunes from the early 80s like We’re in This Love Together that featured Lon Price on the recordings. I went to the concert wondering if I was going to see Lon Price. Obviously, it was not Lon on tour it was you. You had to cover a lot of David Sanborn stuff that was previously recorded by him with Al Jarreau. You covered it to the T.

Oh yeah, that’s exactly right. I love Sanborn like the rest of us.

I definitely come from that background myself. I truly appreciated the influence. After hearing you play the show, I made my way to the dressing room and invited you to my jazz gig. You were very gracious. You came over and we played a few tunes. It’s funny; I still remember we played Straight No Chaser. You smoked me and it was great!

(Michael Laughs)

It was a fun, short little hang but I still remember to this day. Shortly thereafter I bought your debut cd on MCA, One Passion.

Your playing was a heavy influence on me at that time. I remember wearing out One Passion when preparing my own first demo. I’d listen to the production on that cd and…

That’s great. It’s a nice record. I really lucked out being able to work with Robert Kraft, the producer on that one.



Used by permission.
© 2006 by Dorn Publications, Inc.
March/April 2006 , Volume 30, No. 4