National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Paul Yanchar, one of Cleveland's premiere saxophone and clarinet players as well
as one of its finest singers, set a standard for sidemen during an illustrious career
spanning well over fifty years with some of the most successful Cleveland-style orchestras.
Best known in his longstanding role as the sax/clarinet player and leading vocalist
of the Pecon Orchestras, Paul contributed to some of the bands' finest moments including
their winning performance on the "Arthur Godfrey Show" on national TV in 1956, tours
to Hawaii and Slovenia, and the recording of Paul's signature tune, "Little Fella."
Earlier, Paul distinguished himself as a regular with the Johnny Vadnal, Louie Bashell,
Eddie Habat, Pete Sokach, Chuck Smith, Al Strukel, and Vic Intihar Orchestras.
Paul's playing has always been exceptionally strong, marked by high quality musicianship.
Attesting to his influence and the admiration of Cleveland-Style woodwind players
across the nation, "Paul Yanchar licks" abound in Cleveland-Style recordings. With
arguably the best ability of any Cleveland-Style sax/clarinet man to execute unfamiliar
material on the spot, Paul has always been able to step into any band and make an
immediate contribution. Johnny Pecon once said that Paul Yanchar was "the one man
you want next to you if a song is in trouble."
Paul has generally been the "Horn Player of Choice" for any session requiring an
"all-star" orchestra. Thus, Paul's renditions can be heard on Frank Novak's All-Star
recordings, Nancy Hlad’s Slovenian Carousel CD, the "Polkaerobics" video, and Habat
and Kotsos' "From the Heart" album, among many others. Paul has performed with virtually
every famous name in Cleveland-style lore and has over fifteen LP albums to his credit.
Paul's singing is legendary, covering the full spectrum of music from sacred to contemporary,
ethnic to pop, Sinatra to Springsteen. Beyond the many famous cuts with Johnny Pecon,
Paul's vocal excellence has enhanced the recordings of Jeff Pecon, Eddie Habat, and
Fred Kuhar, the latter including memorable duets with his son, Paul.
Behind Paul's accomplishments are hard work, continual practice, and a studious interest
in all kinds of music. Paul has always been meticulous in seeking out and mastering
the correct pronunciation and diction of lyrics in other languages. He has also been
unselfish in his willingness to help and practice with other musicians, perform at
benefits, and organize hands to play at Cleveland area hospitals and nursing homes.
The success of any orchestra is dependent on sidemen who are not only very talented,
but who are also team players. Paul epitomizes and idealizes the role of sideman,
having always been willing and able to pitch in and do whatever is required to make
the total effort succeed for any orchestra in which he has performed.