Paul Samuels grew up in suburban Cleveland, where his father was a violinist for the Cleveland Orchestra and his mother was a visual artist. Samuels’ father took him to concerts performed by McCoy Tyner, Tony Williams, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughn—jazz innovators who inspired young Paul to become a performing artist and drummer.
Starting his professional music career at age 14, Samuels studied with Cleveland Orchestra percussionist Robert Matson and drummer Bob McKee. As he played drums around the Cleveland area, Samuels was influenced by local musicians Lawrence Jacktown Jackson, Greg Bandy, Lamar Gaines, Bill DeArango, Jamey Haddad, Val Kent, Skip Hadden, Ace Carter, and Neal Creque.
In 1975, Samuels immersed himself in the New York music scene. While he learned from the up-and-coming musicians of his generation, it was drummer Billy Hart who influenced his musical direction.
He is presently a visiting teacher of jazz studies at Oberlin Conservatory.
In the mid-1980s, Samuels recorded three albums with Greg Osby, and his compositions Excuse Not and Eyewitness appear on two of Osby’s recordings. Samuels has recorded, performed, or toured internationally with musicians such as James Moody, David Fathead Newman, Lonnie Plaxico, Hank Crawford, Pat the Kid Martino, Jack McDuff, and Gerald Levert.
His debut CD, Speak, features Greg Osby on saxophone, Dan Wall on organ, and Jamey Haddad on percussion.