Paul Hanson

AMERICAN JAZZ BASSOONIST

Personal Life

Paul Hanson is an American Jazz bassoonist, who also plays the saxophone and an ancient Amernian woodwind instrument called a duduk. He used to perform with the jazz-bluegrass fusion band Bella Fleck and the Flecktones, as well as the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra (YPSO) when he was in high school. He also performed in a wind quintet with the French composer and horn player Richard Burdick. 

Hanson graduated with the degree Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 

Career

Hanson has over 20 years of industry experience under his belt. As a bassoonist, he is most credited with playing the instrument at a level of proficiency that is rarely seen. Many people say that his bassoon playing is so good, the listener will actually forget that what he’s playing is a relatively classical woodwind instrument at its core. 

He started as a classical bassoonist with a more “traditional” repertoire earlier in his career. Eventually, he would branch out into a more diversified discography. He has recorded with a wide range of artists. This includes Wayne Shorter, SF Jazz, Peter Erskine, and Billy Childs, to name a few. He also served as classical soloist with the Oakland Eastbay Symphonic Orchestra and the Napa Symphony Orchestra. 

To date, he has worked on 15 albums with a variety of different groups. While working with Bella Fleck and the Flecktones, he worked on two: Outbound, which was released in 2000 and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, and Live At The Quick, which was released two years later. As a solo artist, he released five: The Voodoo Suite, The Last Romantics, Homecoming, Astro Boy Blues, and Frolic In The Land Of Plenty

In 2008, Hanson was eventually invited to play with the legendary Circque du Soleil, as an electric improvising bassoonist in a regular show at Tokyo Disney Resort. With the group, he performed in a massive 380 shows a year from 2008 to 2011. He actually developed the role himself, which means every bassoonist that auditions for Cirque du Soleil will have to conform with the high standards that Hanson himself set. 

Due to his towering skill and proficiency in the instrument, he’s also taught in a lot of masterclasses for the instrument. Most of these masterclasses occurred in several of the best colleges and universities in the US. This includes Penn State, Arizona State, Memphis State, and Portland State to name a few. He taught his industry-tried tips and tricks for improvisation and technique, which helped a lot of young bassoonists find their own sound and start their own careers. 

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Did You Know?

Considering that Hanson’s bassoon playing is often termed “out of this world” and extraordinary, you have to know that the bassoon itself is actually the most difficult instrument to play in the modern orchestra. This makes Hanson’s skill level and virtuosic proficiency all the more impressive.

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