Jazz guitarist Paul Bangser is an active music teacher and performer who lives in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. He’s the former Director of Guitar Studies at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, DC’s only arts-dedicated high school, where he taught guitar and music theory and led the school’s guitar ensemble. He has also taught privately for many years, and has operated his own private teaching studio in Bethesda since 2006.
Paul has been performing with and leading jazz bands over the course of several decades and he has a versatile record of performances on jazz guitar. He has arranged for and led his own jazz quintet on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, directed bands onstage at Strathmore Music Center, performed for a sitting Supreme Court Justice (at the Supreme Court) and a foreign Head of State, and performed with jazz groups at local clubs, coffeehouses and outdoor festivals over the years. He has performed many times with Wammie-award-winning Latin jazz group Trio Caliente. Paul has performed regularly as a duo with jazz vocalists including Linda Cordray (John Eaton) and has also held the guitar chair for local theater productions.
Paul has taken a leadership role in jazz education, having been selected in 2010 to the board of directors of the Jazz Education Network (JEN), the premier national organization for advancing jazz education and performance. He served on the JEN board of directors from 2010 to 2014. Paul keeps current on jazz education and pedagogy through JEN’s annual conferences and by his participation in course work, such as Jazz at Lincoln Center’s intensive jazz band directors’ workshop in New York City.
Since 2010, Paul has also been Music Director and Associate Conductor of the Interplay Orchestra (a Resident Partner at Strathmore Music Center), a 60-piece orchestra composed of adults with cognitive/developmental and other differences who play and perform together with community volunteers and professional musicians. Paul arranges the music and conducts this group in year-round rehearsals and concerts at Strathmore Music Center.
Paul started playing music at age six and has been lost to it ever since. He took up the guitar at 12. Hooked by what he heard on Miles Davis records, his studies turned to jazz guitar and improvisation while in high school. His most indelible music education came from his four years playing in a college big band directed by the renowned Herb Pomeroy of the Berklee College of Music. He studied with other faculty at Berklee as well, and later studied privately with jazz guitarist and current Peabody Conservatory faculty member Paul Bollenback.