Award-winning jazz guitarist Paul Bollenback developed a taste for the exotic over the course of a three-year period when his family lived in India. He was 11 years old when the family traveled to New Delhi, and years later the sounds and experiences of that early journey found their way into his first album from Challenge Records, Original Visions. His next release, Double Gemini, continued to stir up a buzz among critics, and it drew honors as CD of the Month from both WBGO, a Newark jazz station, and 20th Century Jazz Magazine. Bollenback remained with Challenge for his next project, Soul Grooves.
The guitarist first got his hands on an instrument with nylon strings when he was seven years old. The guitar was a gift from his dad, who adored music as much as the younger Bollenback and also played the trumpet. At the age of 14, the budding guitarist headed home to the states with his family, where he discovered the delights of rock & roll. Around this time he started to play the electric guitar, another gift from his dad. When he discovered Miles Davis, it was a major turning point in his musical development.
Bollenback's education includes music studies at the University of Miami. He continued his studies with eight more years of private instruction under the tutelage of Asher Zlotnik in Baltimore. In 1993, the year that he embarked on a European tour, he received a National Endowment for the Arts grant, in conjunction with the Virginia Commission on the Arts, for "New Music for Three Jazz Guitars." The Washington Area Music Awards dubbed him Musician of the Year in 1997, the same year that he joined the music faculty at American University. SESAC honored two of his original pieces, "Romancin' the Moon" and "Wookies' Revenge," both of which were included on the album Reboppin' by Joey DeFrancesco, who returned the favor by appearing on Bollenback's Soul Grooves.
The Litchfield Jazz Festival Summer Music School installed Bollenback as artist-in-residence. He also is a featured artist on the bill of the Summer Guitar & Bass Workshop offered by Duquesne University. The guitarist has performed on numerous television programs, among them Entertainment Tonight, The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Joan Rivers, and Good Morning America. He has shared the stage with a long list of musical artists, including Charlie Byrd, Arturo Sandoval, Herb Ellis, Stanley Turrentine, Spyro Gyra's Scott Ambush, and Della Reese. ~ Linda Seida