Paul Tillotson

Paul Tillotson says “my mission is to play great improvised music, deeply touching the souls of audiences around the world, spreading the joy that is created while making music that comes from love.”


“Thank God for Paul Tillotson” -Vernel Fournier


“Tillotson leers over the ivories like a horny teenager.  He dances, he prances, he makes funny faces, he laughs and howls and sticks out his tongue.  He squeezes and tweaks the audience like a balloon animal and in return, they do anything he asks.  They compete in sing-alongs like toddlers at a Barney matinee.  They make monkey grunts and they screech like parrots.  And remember . . . this is a jazz crowd and Tillotson is a jazz player. "-The Boise Weekly


“The leader’s chair was filled by Paul Tillotson, a talented [Gene] Harris protégé.” –The Los Angeles Times


Paul Tillotson is an acclaimed jazz pianist and has been celebrated for many successes - from his self produced recordings to his live shows.  He's performed across America with such renowned performers as Gene Harris, Lynn Seaton, Vernel Fournier, Mike Merritt (Conan O’Brien Show), James Wormworth (Conan O’Brien Show), Lew Soloff (Blood, Sweat & Tears), Chris Minh Doky, Luther Hughes, Paul Kreibich, Matt Wilson, Aton Fig (David Letterman Show), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Mark Pender, Jerry Vivinno, Red Hollaway, Jimmy Norman (The Coasters), Ernie Watts and Dispatch. Paul has performed his music in "The Montreux Jazz Festival,"  "The Den Haag Jazz Festival,"  “The Jazz in the Canyon Festival,” “The Gene Harris Jazz Festival,” “Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree,” “The Rochester International Jazz Festival,” and ”Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble.”   


Born in Boise, Idaho, Paul made New York City his home from 1989-2009.  The last of six kids, Paul started playing the piano at age ten.  His first gig was playing juice harp with his mother, on guitar, in church. Currently, he resides in Sun Valley, Idaho, and this winter, 2014, marks the sixteenth year Paul has returned to play for four months, with his trio, in the Duchin Lounge at the famous Sun Valley Lodge. 


As a leader Paul has produced ten recordings with his trio.  Live at the Lock; Tulips; Tidbits; Sweet Mystery; Tasty Morsels; Duck Callin’ Man; Drinkin’ Wine with Pauli; Funky Good Time; Tequila Time; and Lindy Hop Blues.  As a composer he has penned over one hundred original compositions.


Gene Harris spent the last twenty years of his life in Boise, Idaho.  While Paul was still in High School he would sneak down to the Idanha Hotel, sit in the lobby, sip slowly on a coke and listen, while Gene and Larry Boyd played the most incredible, beautiful jazz five nights a week.  "I have witnessed so much great live music beginning with listening to my mentor and close friend Gene Harris,” Paul recalls.  “We used to hang out after hours in the bar in the lobby of the Idanha Hotel.  Gene, his wife Janie, and I talked about everything, including philosophy, relationships, politics, adventure, life, love, and music.  By example, he instilled in me his love of musical detail, love of life and how these things reflect in the music we play.  He helped me understand the path to great music is peaceful, fun and rewarding."