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Mitchell Paliga

Mitchell Paliga

Senior Lecturer in Music
Director of the Jazz Ensemble



MA, Jazz Pedagogy, Northwestern University, 1999
BA, Saxophone Performance, Eastern New Mexico University, with honors, 1985


Saxophonist Paliga is an active performer, educator and composer in the Chicago area. He currently tours with actor/musician Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band. As a member of the Lt. Dan Band since 2007 he has performed on U.S. military bases and hospitals in Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan, Europe, Guantanamo Bay Cuba and Kuwait as well as the Pentagon, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, West Point, Air Force and Naval Academies, and CBS Television City.

In 2012, Mitch performed at the 34th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival. In 2008, he also performed with the band Kimotion at the Ho Chi Minh Conservatory of Music and the Hue Festival in Vietnam. Mitch is also a founding member of the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective. In 1993, he received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for individual jazz study with master jazz musician David Liebman. In 2002, he received a City of Chicago Community Arts Assistance Program Grant. In 2017, he received a Global Music Award for his composition “QP Doll”. He has two recordings under his own name, Blithe Moments and Fall Night, which is on the Origin label. He also has recorded over 30 original compositions and arrangements with a variety of artists.

Press Quotes

“Relatively few jazz musicians take up soprano sax compared to the rest of the reed family, but Mitch Paliga is one who has mastered his instrument.” Ken Dryden, All Music Guide, review

“Paliga’s adventurous spirit as a soloist is evident throughout the session with firm displays of solid technique and patient playfulness.” John Barron, All About Jazz

“The melodies here are often like whispers. One must pay attention so as not to miss some of the beautiful subtleties being offered up here in abundance (case in point might be Track 2, “QP Doll”).” Ronald Jackson,

“If you’re not a fan of soprano sax playing, this album (Blithe Moments) may change some of your perceptions. The high level of musicianship, and Paliga’s skill at composing, make the album worth listening to in any case.” Lorelai Clarke,

“Paliga is an interesting composer but he also may be the next great voice on soprano saxophone” Jerome Wilson, Cadence Magazine

“Mitch has a beautiful sound on the soprano and some very compelling compositions that I enjoyed a lot. A stellar band as well.” David Liebman

“…exquisite lyric phrases from soprano saxophonist Mitch Paliga.” Howard Reich, the Chicago Tribune

“The guitarist (Steve Ramsdell) would be hard pressed to find a better associate than Paliga, whose soprano compliments the writing throughout.” Cadence Magazine

”…Paliga, although a fine tenorist, is known for his concentration on soprano saxophone.” and,”…shares his mentor’s (David Liebman) fascination with chromaticism, weaving erudite lines with grace and poise.” New City 

“In addition to the pianist’s (Jo Ann Daugherty) core trio, the most impressive sideman is Mitch Paliga, particularly on soprano.” Scott Yanow,

“Saxophonist and composer Mitch Paliga, a cool Lee Konitz-style player, adds bright color to the ensemble with his probing work.”

Grants and Awards

2017     Global Music Award for composition for "QP Doll"

2002     City of Chicago Community Arts Assistance Program Grant

1993     National Endowment of the Arts grant for individual study with master jazz musician David Liebman.