Senior Lecturer in Jazz
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Hans Koller was born into a musical family, his father was a jazz-loving Lutheran pastor, his mother a 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, first to Middlesex University where he majored in composition, then at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) 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 début 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 Sylvester.
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.
An exuberant and remarkable talent, Koller's music is full of surprises.
(Text by Ian Carr in Rough Guide to Jazz, 3rd edition 2004)
Over the past decade Koller has worked on refining his sound, writing for Steve Lacy (London Ear), working in large group contexts with Evan Parker, and with Kenny Wheeler and Bob Brookmeyer, performing and recording with the NDR big band (Scenic Routes), as well as playing piano in various groups led by Mike Gibbs (including a tour of England in 2007 alongside Steve Swallow, Bill Frisell and Adam Nussbaum).
Recent projects include performances with Phil Woods and the BBC big band, a project with Dave Liebman, writing for the WDR big band with Gerard Presencer, a project with the HR big band, an album with Bill Frisell and Evan Parker (Cry, Want), and working with his current quartet with drummer Jeff Williams, saxophonist François Théberge, and bassist/trumpet player Percy Pursglove (Chasing the Unicorn).
A new album with his London-based 12 piece with guest Steve Swallow is forthcoming, a new quartet album with drummer Gene Calderazzo, bassist Oli Hayhurst and German saxophonist Gerd Dudek has just been released on Evan Parker's PSI label.
Hans Koller is part of the jazz department at Birmingham Conservatoire where he teaches composition, arranging, repertoire and jazz history.
In 2006 he went to America to study with Bob Brookmeyer, since 2011 he is researching the concepts of George Russell and Jimmy Giuffre, and studying counterpoint with Edwin Roxburgh.