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Hans Koller

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Biography of Hans Koller

www.hanskoller.com
Piano, composer, arranger.
b. Landshut, Germany, 10 Nov 1970.
Hans Koller was born into a musical family: his father was a jazz-loving Lutheran pastor, his mother a classically trained music teacher and his four sisters all played instruments. Growing up in rural Bavaria, Koller first came into contact with jazz musicians in his teens while attending jazz summer schools run by Brian Abraham’s District Six in Ingolstadt. In 1991 he came to England to study music, first at Middlesex University, where he majored in composition, then at the School of African and Oriental Studies where he obtained a masters degree in Ethnomusicology.

Koller started playing in bands with saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and trumpeter Chris Batchelor and went on to form his own group, Neverland, with bass player Dave Whitford, saxophonist Rob Townsend and drummer Stuart Laurence. This group was augmented into a nine-piece outfit for Koller’s debut album Magic Mountain (1997), which established him as one of the leading new jazz composers in the UK. Three years later he won the JOEY Award for composers organised by Eastern Arts, and subsequently was awarded major commissions by Birmingham Jazz and by the Freden International Music Festival.

In 2001 he released Lovers and Strangers, an album featuring his trio alongside the harpist Helen Tunstall, the singer Christine Tobin, and the percussionist Corrina Silvester.

His next album, New Memories (2002), was hailed as “the most expansive, expressive and exciting new jazz orchestral sound to have emerged in this country since the late-lamented Loose Tubes” by John Fordham in the Guardian.

As well as playing the piano in Mike Gibbs’ new big band, Koller is currently composing/arranging for a new collaboration with saxophonist Steve Lacy. An exuberant and remarkable talent, Koller’s music is full of surprises. (Ian Carr)

New Memories (2002; 33 Records)
For his big band album Koller composed and arranged nine of the ten pieces
and radically rearranged the tenth, “my one and only love” (Wood/Mellin). While the music sometimes sounds upside down or inside out, it inevitably resolves into a coherent statement, with Koller’s humanity always in evidence.

(Source: the penguin rough guide to jazz, third edition 2004)

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