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Paul Lichty has become one of Des Moines’ most prolific freelance musicians and composers since moving there in 2020. Now the bandleader of the Paul Lichty Jazz Orchestra (PLJO), music director/trombonist for BYOBrass, and trombonist for the 515 Brass Collective, Paul balances these duties with performing and arranging for a wide array of professional ensembles across Iowa while also working as a middle school band director at Winterset Junior High School. Having developed a unique and personal approach at composing for ensembles of all sizes and skill levels, his compositions consist of many clever twists and turns on numerous different styles of music and are heavily biographical in nature. Paul's music been described by his colleagues and teachers as “sonic landscapes, rich in groove and development, that are high energy, aggressive, humorous (often outright hilarious!), and full of heart, finding the extremely fine line between calm and chaos... his music is truly a reflection of himself.” PLJO’s first album, “Dark Soul”, was released in 2021 and can be found on all steaming platforms, BandCamp, as well as Paul’s website.
 BYOBrass' second album, scheduled to be released in 2025, will feature several of his newest arrangements and compositions.

As a composer....

In addition to hearing his music performed by PLJO and BYOBrass, almost every ensemble that Paul performs with regularly performs his compositions or arrangements. He has arranged music for contemporary jazz giants Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Wendel for their respective residencies at UNI as SDIJ guest artists, charts that both guest artists have continued to use for other residencies. Additionally, Paul has contributed music for Michael Conrad’s new project, the Iowa Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, an elite ensemble that performs works by Iowa composers. As music director for the band BYOBrass, Paul regularly contributes compositions and arrangements which have helped develop and refine the band’s unique and fresh approach to the brass band medium. Other recent commissions include works for Heath Alan, Jeff Kane (NOLA Jazz Band), Dr. Robert Washut (UNI Jazz Panthers), Lucas Petersen (Purdue University and Winterset High School), and Brad Jensen (Hudson High School). Equally adept at music formatting and preparation, Paul has also worked as a copyist for New York City composer/arranger, David Berger.  Paul cites Bob Brookmeyer, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Douglas, Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, and Darcy James Argue as his greatest compositional influences. 

PLJO, Fall 2021
w/ Rich Medd, Anthony Williams, and Jackson Churchill
BYOBrass show at 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis

As a trombonist....

Equally adept at both tenor and bass trombone, Paul’s versatility and skills on the instrument has enabled him to perform with in numerous ensembles at festivals and venues all across the world. In addition to PLJO and BYOBrass, Paul has performed numerous times with the NOLA Jazz Band, the Max Wellman Big Band, the Nate Sparks Big Band, and the Des Moines Big Band. Other professional musicians and ensembles that Paul has performed with include the Iowa Jazz Composers Orchestra, Christopher’s Very Happy. Band, Gina Gedler, Napoleon Douglas, Brian Martin Big Band, Jim Asbell and the Tropiholics, Grand Avenue Ruckus, Theatre Cedar Rapids, and Revival Theatre Company. Paul helped recently form a new brass quintet, the 515 Brass Collective, made up of UNI brass musicians currently living in Des Moines. From 2017 to 2019, he worked as a musician aboard the Crystal Symphony, accompanying and arranging for a diverse range of headline acts including Tony Award winning Broadway/West End artists, reality show finalists, and instrumental virtuosos. Paul has played lead trombone in both the Oregon Jazz Ensemble and UNI Jazz Band One, two of the finest collegiate big bands in their respective states. Paul has had the opportunity to perform with guest artists Dave Douglas, Sean Jones, Luis Bonilla, Bobby Shew, and Vern Sielert through his participation in these ensembles.  

As an educator...

Paul’s skills and experiences as a professional musician and composer has enabled him to provide very unique learning opportunities for his students. Paul will be working as the band director at Winterset Junior High School starting in the fall of 2024 after working for four years as the 5-8th grade band director at Carlisle CSD. Paul regularly composes and arranges music and educational materials that are unique suited for his ensembles; this is a terrific motivating factor for his students and plays an integral role in his pedagogy. Paul has also invited students of his perform with PLJO and BYOBrass, and members of those ensembles have appeared as guest artists for Paul’s school groups as well. In 2022, Paul, along with three other band directors, was invited to present "SUPER Lessons: Kickstart Your Beginning Band" at the annual Iowa Bandmasters Association (IBA) conference. The following year, BYOBrass was invited to perform at the 2023 IBA conference. Also an in-demand guest artist and clinician, Paul has been a guest artist for Ankeny and Ankeny Centennial’s “Jazz-O-Rama”, as well having lead clinics, rehearsals and sectionals at numerous schools throughout the state of Iowa (Waukee Northwest, Waukee, Cedar Falls, and Norwalk, to name a few). From 2019-2020, Paul worked as a graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon, directing UO Jazz Lab II and coaching one of their jazz combos. Paul has worked as an adjudicator for the Oregon Jazz Festival in addition to various middle school solo festivals across Iowa.

Photo cred: Colby Campbell photography
IBA presentation w/ Natalie Clark, Brittany Wedeking, and Michael Kosiek
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