Paul Cram died peacefully March 20, 2018

Paul Cram was one of the founding members of Upstream Music Association, and after a period of co-directorship with  the other founders, became the Artistic Director in 1992, serving until 2015, stepping down to focus on his health. Paul Cram died peacefully on March 20th 2018 in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia.

He brought to Upstream in Halifax his years of experience founding ensembles in Vancouver and Toronto, including the NOW Orchestra Workshop Society in Vancouver, which still continues to this day. Paul also brought a wealth of knowledge and experience with creative music and free jazz, extended music notation and innovations in conducting, contributing to his conception of what, as he referred to it, THE MUSIC, could be. But because he also maintained the edge of his broad tenor sax tone that he had developed playing gritty R&B in Vancouver night clubs, he tried to stay connected to the music in the street as much as the music in the concert halls.

Paul Cram had a passion for new formings, in his compositions themselves, exploring musical groupings of ideas related to note sequences and contextualized improvisation.  But he was also interesting in forming new events, including concert series and festivals, and in the creation of new ensembles. These groups many facets, with almost every arrangement of players warranting a new title.  Paul Cram Trio, The Solar System Quartet, The Kings of Sming, The Paul Cram Quintet, Cram/Ellis Duo, New Orchestra Workshop (NOW) Hemispheres,  Bengazi Quartet, Paul Cram Orchestra, Upstream, A Love Upstream, Upstream Orchestra, Aperture Trio, The Sunrise Orchestra, North/Sud and certainly more.   This was based in both the idea of ‘the band’ but also in reinvention and in the respect for the individuality of the other musicians who contributed to these groups.

Paul Cram was very interested in his community of artists, beyond forming ensembles. He was involved in professional organizations in a significant way, serving on the boards of SOCAN, The Guild of Canadian Film Composers, The Canadian New Music Network, and being a founding member of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.

Paul also wrote for television, film, theatre and dance. In addition to winning the prestigious FIPA D’OR (France) for his work in film, (One Heart Broken Into Song) and several nominations and a Merritt award (Refuge) for his theatre work, he was nominated many times for Juno and National Jazz Awards.

Paul’s spirit of ambitious and inquisitive creation has been an inspiration to the many musicians and artists he collaborated with over 40 years, and Upstream Music Association continues to embody many of the ideals Paul Cram brought to THE MUSIC.

As he was fond of saying, “Come on in, the water’s fine…”