Robert Muller is a pianist and keyboardist based in Santa Fe, NM, with experience ranging from smokey local bars to international music festivals. A freewheeling and exuberant improviser, he’s known for a distinctly modern and soulful musical approach informed as much by funk as by avant-garde jazz and 80s pop.
He’s also a supportive sideman and competent music director who uses his broad experience to bring out the best in those around him, and regulary does studio work on recordings across multiple genres.
He studied closely with Blue Note jazz great Dr. Andrew Hill at Portland State University for several years and performed extensively on the West Coast doing everything from local Portland jazz gigs to touring with a Shriner’s Circus in British Columbia and working as a sideman with Iranian pop stars.
He moved to New York City in the early 90’s and became active in the downtown music scene with his own trio Timefly and as a sideman for several original acts. Robert appeared several times on MTV2 with underground hip-hop artist Pete Miser and performed regularly at venues like SOB’s, The Knitting Factory, The Blue Note, Mercury Lounge, and Studio 54.
After moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico some ten years later, he immediately started to do studio work and performances with Grammy-winning guitarist Larry Mitchell on multiple songs and albums for several award-winning artists, including NAMMY winning singer and songwriter Shelley Morningsong.
He co-leads the modern jazz project Kodama Trio, which received two 2016 New Mexico Music Awards for Best Jazz CD and Best Jazz Single (a song Robert wrote called Milespost 22) for their eponymous debut album. He’s also a part of an explosive new trio with drummer phenom Jonathan Rodriguez and bass prodigy Casey Anderson, they’ll be appearing in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Europe in 2019.
Robert has also been a frequent sideman and collaborator with Mvskoke poet/author/musician Joy Harjo, not just in New Mexico but in venues and festivals as far-flung as Alaska, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tulsa, and the Public Theater in New York City.
In 2015 he performed at NAMM along with a project led by Public Enemy’s Brian Hardgroove and former Scatterbrain drummer Mike Boyko, where they accompanied Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Larry Mitchell, and Steve Morse. In April of 2016, he was the music director for a tribute honoring bassist Nathan East as part of the 2016 New Mexico Film and Music Experience where he led a New Mexico-based all-star tribute band as well as backing up the East family’s ensemble that included Greg Phillinganes, James East, and Steve Ferrone.
Robert worked as an adjunct professor of music at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s Contemporary Music Program starting in 2013. (Sadly, the university lost its accreditation during a fiscal crisis and was shuttered after the 2017-2018 school year.) He uses music gear from companies including Yamaha, Nord, Kawai Pianos, Korg, Bose, Roland, Novation, Universal Support Systems, Apple, Event Audio, Ultimate Ears, and Ableton, in addition to vintage keyboards like the Fender Rhodes, Hohner Clavinet and various organs.
He’s also an accomplished photographer and has had work used in Santa Fean magazine and Architecural Digest.
some of the people and groups I have worked with:
“Despite the obviously cooperative nature of the trio, Muller’s piano dominates throughout. A percussive, muscular player in the mold of McCoy Tyner, he’s a remarkable soloist with a wealth of rhythmic and melodic ideas and a yen for dark and gnarly harmonies.”
Kodama Trio CD Review (Allaboutjazz.com)
“Muller brings a spritely, spiky energy that contrasts nicely with the mellower qualities of tuba and ’bone. His adventurous, muscular solos incorporate elements from bebop to funk, with touches of hip-hop attitude. “
Christian Pincock CD Review (Melminter.com)
“Muller is like a vampire in that if you invite him in he’ll always just kind of be around. Also, he’s a pretty amazing pianist, so… “
Pranzo (Santa Fe Reporter)
“There are proggy elements at play that present a more rock ’n’ roll sensibility than many might think when they hear the qualifier “jazz” and if nothing else, these guys are all f*cking bonkers when it comes to musicianship. “
Mushi Trio Review (Santa Fe Reporter)
Pete Miser: The piano player, Robert Muller, is just … so hyper-musical, like kind of jazz-based. He’s a student of Andrew Hill. He’s so out that he goes into the anti-music zone, you know what I mean?
Cosmik: Playing off someone who’s in that frame of mind must be kind of inspirational for you.
Pete Miser: Yeah, it’s dope.
Cosmik Debris Magazine (Pete Miser Interview)
Please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you!
Oh, and I’m also involved with photography. I don’t update it as often as I should, but if you’re interested, please visit robertmullerphotography.com