Paul Perez

Former tenor with Tower of Power. Soloist with Smokey Robinson, and the Bob Florence Big Band


Paul Perez began playing the saxophone in 1974 wile a sophomore at Porterville High School in California. In 1976 as a senior, he was voted Outstanding Bandsman and garnered the Outstanding Soloist Awart at the local Wasco Jazz Festival. By graduation he had performed throughout the central San Joaquin Valley club circuit and toured cross country with performances as far north as "Blood alley" in Vancouver, Canada and east to the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

In 1977, he began formal saxophone studies with friend and mentor Roy Meder. While performing in the Bay Area, an opportunity to play with the R&B band Cold Blood arose and the decision to pursue a professional music career was made. This led Mr. Perez to enroll at the L.A. Jazz Workshop under the tutelage of Bill Yeager. While there Mr. Perez studied under many notable saxophonists including: Don Menza, Pete Christlieb (Johnny Carson's Tonight Show Band), Bill Green, Lanny Morgan, Matt Cattinbug, Jackie Kelso, and Don Rafael. The workshop environment provided invaluable experience playing in a variety of music settings ranging from jazz quartets to big band ensembles, involving music as diverse as Count Basie to Tower of Power. This led to several years of "wood-sheding" and "payin' dues" as Mr. Perez performed throughout the L.A. area.

In 1986, Mr. Perez was awarded a scholarship to attend Cal. State University, Bakersfield, where he pursued a degree in psychology. In his first year at CSUB he formed Sneakers, a group dedicated to performing the most challenging jazz fusion on the contemporary scene. Their performances earned them the Outstanding Jazz Combo Award in 1987 and 1988 at the Pacific coast Collegiate Jazz Festival, the world's largest competitive jazz festival. Held at U.C. Berkeley, this festival is a two day event with over 100 groups competing. In 1989, Mr. Perez was awarded the Festival's highest performance accolade, the Best Musical Instrument Scholarship.

Enrollemnt at CSUB also led to a collaborative creative effort between Mr. Perez and saxophonist/composer/arragner Mac McClanahan which produced Ain't No Thang. Inspired by the legendary horn section of the Bay Area Tower Of Power, this ten piece ensemble was organized to perfomr at the CSUB Jazz Coffeehouse and subsequently became one of the area's most popular bands. Ain't No Thang went on to win a Musician Magazine Best Unsigned Band Award.

In 1990, Mr. Perez assembled Bakersfield's finest youg talent and formed the The End Band. The End Band, also dedicated to performing the most challenging jazz fusion on the contemporary scene, had the distinction of recording on an album of original comopsitions.

Highlights for Aint' No Thang, Sneakers, The End Band, and Paul Perez during this period included performances with : former Tower of Power vocalists, Ellis Hall and Lenny Williams; former Tower of Power guitarist, Bruce conte; Seawind vocalist Pauline Wilson; guitarist/vocalist Bill Champlin, and former Tower of Power drummer Herman Mathews. Mr Perez's aforementioned groups have also performed as featured acts or opening acts for the following notable artists: The Yellowjackets; The Doobie Bros.; Norman Brown; Jeff Lorber Fusion; David Benoit; Bennie Wallace; Pete Escovedo with Sheila E; Andy Narell; John Scofield; Freddie Hubbard; Poncho Sanchez; Keiko Matsui; Jimmie Smith; Dianne Schuur; Ronnie Laws; Kilauea; Gerald Albright; Larry Carlton; Lee Ritenour; Earl Klugh; Branford Marsalis; Bobby Matos; Tom Scott; Lyle Mays Quartet; Caribbean Jazz Project; Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; Jeff Linsky; Brian Bromberg; Steve Tavaglione; Terry Gibbs; Buddy DeFranco Band; Joyce Cooling; Jeff Lorber w/ Eric Marienthal; Thompson D'earth; Kirk Whalum; and the late Grover Washington Jr.

His association with Ellis Hall led Mr. Perez to studio dates and performances with the Ellis Hall Band. Highlights include the Las Vegas Jazz Festival, featureing Brandon Fields, Richard Elliot, and Dave Koz, as well as Mr. Hall's guest vocal offering on the Sneakers debut album "Sneak Preview". Since then, Mr. Perez has played soundtrack studio dates for TV commercials, e.g. a nationally aired Goodyear Tires spot, television and movies.

Under the auspices of Dr. Doug Davis, Director of the CSUB Jazz Department, Mr. Perez has had the opoportunity to perform with Al Vizzuti, Plas Johnson, Michael Brecker, the late Bob Berg, Randy Brecker, John Clayton, Carl allen, Louie Bellson, Bob Florence, Peter Erskine, and Ernie Watts. As a featured soloist with the CSUB Jazz Ensemble, Mr. Perez has soloed in a "battle of the saxes" with both Michael Brecker and Ernie Wats. Musical highlights in anyone's career!

His association with CSUB culminated in graduating cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. In 2001, Mr. Perez was invited by Dr. Davis to renew his association with the CSUB as a member of the studio faculty. In this capacity, Mr. Perez provides private instructino to students and prepares them for the many juries and recitals required for graduation as a music major or music minor.

Upon graduating, Mr. Perez auditioned for and joined the legendary R & B band "Tower of Power" taking the soloist spot in the horn section. This position has always fallen on the first tenor saxophone and is considered the "fighter poili's seat." Acquiring that chair put Mr. Perez in the company of several illustrious predecessors such as, Skip Mesquite, Lenny Pickett, Mark Russo, Richard Elliot, and Steve Grove. While with the "Tower", Mr. Perez toured and then recorded the 1993 release T.O.P. featuring the return of Lenny Pickett, and sax great Brandon Fields.

Since leaving the "Tower", Mr. Perez was a featured soloist with Smokey Robinson, performing such classic hits as 'Tears of a Clown' and 'Ooh Baby Baby'. Subsequently, he recorded the soundtracks for the Quentin Tarentino release "Curdled", and for the Andy Garcia release, "Steal Little, Steal Big."

Currently, Mr. Perez can be heard on the World Wid Web via with his latest group 'The Mother Funk Consiracy (mfc.)'. More info at Since subitting their material mfc has been a featured artis on both and Mother Funk Conspiracy has consistently been one of the top bands in both the jazz fusion and junk genres acquiring more than 10,000 hits world wide.

Mr. Perez has also collaborated with one of L.A.'s premiere mouthpiece gurus John Reilly and saxophonist Pete Christlieb in the production of a tenor sax mouthpiece. This mouthpiece has the ability to play five octaves a la Lenny Pickett or jazz standars in the quietest musical settings. Mr. Christlieb was instrumental in dictating the baffle hight and length; Mr. Perez established the curve. This mouthpiece should be available to the public soon.

His most recent work can be heard on teh soundtrack for the SHOWTIME series 'Ressurection Boulevard.' As always, Paul Perez freelances as a "gun for hire" while teaching privately and at CSUB.

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