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From his early years, playing blues on Chicago’s South Side, to his present multi-faceted career based out of northern Vermont, Paul has earned an underground reputation as a true “musician’s musician”. He has played and recorded with legends like John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Pops Staples, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, and numerous others. He also appeared on the milestone recording “Fathers and Sons” featuring Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield and also played on “The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions” LP, featuring Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and members of the Rolling Stones.
After moving to Vermont, he formed the Paul Asbell Quartet, soon to be renamed Kilimanjaro, and recorded 2 award-winning albums for Philo Records, which led to several appearances at the Kool Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, and numerous national tours and concert dates. He has also performed with folk icons David Bromberg, Paul Siebel, Mary McCaslin, and Rosalie Sorrells, jazz greats Jon Hendricks, Sonny Stitt, Nick Brignola, Betty Carter, James Carter, Kermit Ruffins, Michael Ray, the Sun Ra Arkestra, The Wild Magnolias, Joshua Redman, John Stowell, and many others. In 1981, he and other members of Kilimanjaro joined forces with a legendary saxophonist/blues singer to form Big Joe Burrell and the Unknown Blues Band, which remained a Northeast regional favorite until Big Joe’s passing in 2005.
Paul has released 3 solo acoustic CD’s, which have received glowing reviews in Guitar Player, Vintage Guitar, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Downbeat, Dirty Linen, Sing Out, and others. Many national tours and appearances at major festivals have followed, including the Newport, Healdsburg, and Montreal Guitar Shows, MerleFest, Lunenburg (Canada) Folk Harbour Festival, featured spots in 30 years of Burlington’s Discover Jazz Festival, annual shows at Burlington First Night since 1995, etc. In 2018, he released “Burmese Panther” CD, featuring original jazz compositions, and in 2019, he received Seven Days magazine’s Daysie Award for “Best VT Instrumentalist”.
Paul has taught for years at University of Vermont and Middlebury College, and has given master-classes at Skidmore College, Dartmouth College, Johnson State College, Marlboro College, Swannanoa Guitar Week, and others. In addition, he presently sees between 10-25 private students/ week, covering every conceivable age group, stylistic orientation, and playing level. Past students have included recognized professionals in jazz, rock, folk, etc, including Phish icon Trey Anastasio, Nth Power leader Nick Cassarino, songwriter/playwright Anais Mitchell, Tauk guitarist Matt Jalbert, and Grace Potter guitarist Benny Yurco.