Paul Grabowsky is a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor, and is one of Australia’s most distinguished artists.
Born in Papua New Guinea in 1958, Paul was raised in Melbourne where he attended Wesley College. He began classical piano lessons at the age of five, studying with Mack Jost from 1965-1978. He began informal studies in jazz around 1976, and fully devoted his energies to improvised music from 1978. During the 70’s he became prominent in the music scene in Melbourne, working in various jazz, theatre and cabaret projects. He lived in Munich, Germany from 1980-1985, where he was active on the local and European jazz scenes, performing and recording with Johnny Griffin, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Benny Bailey, Guenther Klatt, Marty Cook and many others. He returned to Australia in 1986.
In 1983, he formed the Paul Grabowsky Trio, winner of four ARIA awards and one of Australia’s longest-living and most influential jazz ensembles. He has also won two Helpmann awards, several Bell awards and a Deadly award. He was the Sydney Myer Performing Artist of the year in 2000, and received the Melbourne Prize for Music in 2007.
As a performer, he became known for his work with the ‘Wizards of Oz’, a group he co-led with saxophonist Dale Barlow from 1987-1989 and Vince Jones, for whom he was musical director in 1988-89. From 1990-1992 he led the ‘Groovematics’, the band on the nightly national television show ‘Tonight Live’.
He performs and records regularly with singers Shelley Scown, Robyn Archer, Katie Noonan and Megan Washington. Paul is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Australian Art Orchestra, with which he tours both nationally and internationally. Recent AAO projects have concentrated on collaborations with traditional and contemporary indigenous performers. Among his numerous CD releases are two for the Hush series (for which he is Artistic Director), designed to assist in the healing environment of Melbourne’s Children’s Hospital.
Paul is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost screen composers, working with such directors as Gillian Armstrong: ‘The Last Days of Chez Nous’, Paul Cox: ‘Innocence and Human Touch’, John Irvin: ‘Shiner’ and ‘The Fine Art Of Love’, ‘Mine Ha Ha’ and Fred Schepsi: ‘Last Orders’ and ‘It Runs in the Family’. His television credits are numerous and include the ABC series ‘Phoenix’and ‘Janus’. Paul enjoyed great success with ‘Jungle Book 2’, for which he wrote the songs in collaboration with lyricist Lorraine Feather.
In 2017 Paul collaborated with director Beth MaLure for feature film ‘Daisy Winters’. Prior to this in 2016 Paul scored for David Parker’s feature film ‘The Menkoff Method’. He previously scored Fred Schepisi’s feature film ‘Words and Pictures’, starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche. His score features an end titles song set to words by the film’s writer Gerry DiPiego. Paul also collaborated with Fred Schepisi on the 2011 feature film ‘The Eye of the Storm’, which features world-famous saxophonist Branford Marsalis. He also worked with Marsalis on his most recent international album ‘Tales of Time and Space’, which was recorded in New York and which received exceptional reviews.
His works for the theatre include the operas ‘The Mercenary’ (1997-99) and ‘Love in the Age of Therapy’, which was premiered in October 2002 at the Sydney Opera House, with further sell-out performances in January 2003 at the Sydney Arts Festival. His music for the shadow play ‘The Theft of Sita’ (1999-2000) won a Helpmann award.
Paul produced and presented the television series ‘Access all Areas’ in 1996 and was Commissioning Editor for ABC Television Arts and Entertainment 1996-1998. In 2005, Paul was appointed Artistic Director for the Queensland Music Festival 2007. In 2008, the Adelaide Festival of Arts appointed Paul as the Artistic Director for the 2010 and 2012 Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts. In June 2012, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow in the School of Music. In July 2012, Paul was made Executive Director, Performing Arts, Academy of Performing Arts, Monash University.