We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Nelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, what principle do you value most?
It matters most to me to be genuine in my interactions with others as well as to be genuine in any work that I do. I like to live by the mindset that our ideas come across with the most clarity when we give our sincere and best effort. That guides my interactions with others and how I approach my work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am primarily a trombonist but I love the bass trombone most. Big band has been a passion of mine since I first discovered it in high school. As much as I love swing and music from the 50’s and 60’s, I try my best to create music that is both modern and unique. I have a lot of tunes that represent my experiences in life, from interpreting emotions to creating a sonic representation of a place I visited. My intention is always to take the listener to the same place I was in the moment I am recreating. I was fortunate enough to get a master’s in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California. I spent my undergrad studying classical music theory and bass trombone at the University of Georgia. These were both life changing experiences in their own right. In Georgia, I started a band with my college friends that got to tour and make a few records. I also had an internship where I learned recording techniques. Pair that with some of the great musicians I studied with at USC and I just feel so grateful to have the tools I need to succeed. This experience certainly did not come with ease. I do not come from a wealthy background by any means. It was tough to pay for everything. Balancing day jobs and teaching music lessons with school, pursuing gigs and writing music. In my experience, the best thing I could have done for myself was to just always give my best effort at things. If you do not have the time to give your best effort, it probably is not worth your time.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
LA is so hard to cover because there is so much to do. It is so unfortunate that the city lost the bluewhale jazz club. That was my favorite place to see and play live music in the city. When the pandemic is over, I will look forward to taking friends to the Rhythm Room downtown. It is always fun to hear some quality live music while playing ping pong and drinking beers. I always make a point to bring visiting friends to Point Dume in Malibu. I am an avid hiker and mountain biker so I always want to take friends around any of the mountains in the area. Topanga and Will Rogers have the beautiful ocean views, Malibu Creek State Park has the cool swimming holes. As far as food, it is so hard to say. I really love the ethiopian food at Mercado la Paloma, tacos at Avenue 26 just north of downtown, Beverly Soon Tofu in Koreatown and OB Bear in Koreatown. Birria is an important one to share as well, from any local birreria. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people I can thank for contributing to my career and path in life. I have to thank my mother, Veronica, and girlfriend, Sarah, for being so supportive of my ambitions. I have wonderful mentors who have guided me through my education. Miles Adams, Jason Goldman, Bob Mintzer, Dave D’Angelo, Andy Martin and Josh Bynum all contributed so much to my playing and writing and just becoming a better person. Some of my closest friends have also showed so much support and encouragement. Reed Oliver, Tim Fenton, Marco Apicella, Dave Ellis, Aaron Janik, Matt Vu, Warren Lawson, Malik Henry, Wesley Sumpter and all the guys from Misnomer. Thank you for contributing to my successes, my growth and the pursuit of playing music for a living.
Tipping Point Designs Clare Nunley