Omahan made his living playing jazz piano in New York - Omaha.com
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Omahan made his living playing jazz piano in New York
By Kevin Coffey / World-Herald staff writer


Paul Serrato
Age: He wouldn't say, but he did graduate from Creighton Prep in 1954. “Anyone can do the math,” he said.
Occupation: Jazz musician, English as a second language teacher at Metropolitan Community College.
Education: Undergraduate degree in jazz and graduate degree in teaching.
Hobbies and interests: Film, Husker football, Bluejay basketball, working on his house.

* * *

Jazz music has always resonated with Paul Serrato.

It opened up a world of possibility, Serrato said, and he never looked back.

An Omaha native, Serrato ended up relocating to New York City, where he lived until recently. He's made a living playing jazz piano, and his concerts in his hometown have begun to earn him a following.

Serrato grew up in South Omaha and first began to play the piano as a sixth-grader at St. Bridget's school. He continued to hone his skills by playing recitals and joining the school bands at Creighton Prep.

Serrato landed in New York City after a year in Boston, and he lived in the Big Apple until two years ago.

“There were a lot of opportunities,” he said. “I started getting some breaks and there was some interest ... in what I was writing. There's so much musical and theatrical work in New York, so it wasn't difficult.”

During the '50s, '60s and '70s, Serrato was able to make a living being a musician. His first midtown Manhattan apartment cost only $94 a month. And the compositions that he made decades ago continue to pay off today.

Serrato is also a teacher.

“I love education. Jazz musicians, in general, are educators,” he said.

He taught English as a second language in New York public schools to supplement his music career.

Since moving back to Omaha, Serrato continues to teach ESL, now at Metropolitan Community College.

Jazz is still his prime passion, and he plays regular gigs at the Addicted Cup coffee shop at 13th and Leavenworth Streets.

“These aren't the best of times for jazz as far as mainstream visibility, but hey man, it's good music and has a long tradition,” Serrato said. “Jazz has always been an intimate form of expression and communication.”

Serrato's next performance will be at the Addicted Cup on Feb. 22, and he'll debut some new material. He also has a new album coming out this spring.

“I'm always working on new stuff.”

Contact the writer: Kevin Coffey

kevin.coffey@owh.com    |   402-444-1557    |  

Kevin covers music, whether it's pop, indie or punk, through artist interviews, reviews and trend stories. He also occasionally covers other entertainment, including video games and comic books.

Read more stories by Kevin


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