pianist • composer • improviser
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.
You might catch him sitting in with an underground hip-hop band at a local Santa Fe microbrewery, playing at an art gallery in Colorado with his modern jazz trio Hi Happy, or backing up world-class rock and blues musicians at festivals just about anywhere.
He’s 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 eleven years later, he immediately started to do studio work and performances with Grammy-winning guitarist Larry Mitchell for several award-winning artists, including NAMMY winning singer and songwriter Shelley Morningsong.
He co-leads the modern jazz project Kodama Trio, whose eponymous debut album received 2016 New Mexico Music Awards for Best Jazz CD and Best Jazz Single. He’s a part of an inspired new modern jazz trio called Hi Happy, along with drummer phenom Jonathan Rodriguez and bass (and keyboard) phenom Casey Anderson.
Robert has also been a frequent sideman and collaborator with Mvskoke poet/author/musician Joy Harjo in venues and festivals as far-flung as Anchorage, Indianapolis, Tulsa, and the Public Theater in New York City.
In 2015 he performed at NAMM with a project called Impulse Groove Foundation, led by Public Enemy’s Brian Hardgroove and featuring former Scatterbrain drummer Mike Boyko. They accompanied Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Larry Mitchell, and Steve Morse as part of several workshops.
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 arranged music and led a New Mexico-based all-star tribute band. Later the same evening, he was invited to be part of the East family’s band, which included Greg Phillinganes, Steve Ferrone, and Nathan East himself.
Robert worked for Horace Alender Young 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 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’d love to get another Wurly, he left his behind when he left New Jersey, but let’s face it: it’s hard to find a deal these days.
He’s also an experienced photographer and has had work used in Santa Fean magazine and Architectural Digest.
March 15, 2019 7pm
Muse Performance Space (Lafayette, CO) w/Hi Happy and Kaitlyn Williams Band
March 17, 2019 4pm
Bloback Gallery (Pueblo, CO) w/Hi Happy
March 20, 2019 7-10pm
Ben Michael’s (Albuquerque) w/Rodney Bowe and JD Davis
March 28, 2019 9:30-12:30
Tonic (Santa Fe) w/Lee Steck and Casey Anderson
April 3, 2019 7-10pm
Ben Michael’s (Albuquerque) w/Will Hanley and Ev Stearn
April 8, 2019 12am-2am
Leaf and Hive (Santa Fe) w/Phat Sweet (Railroad Earth afterparty)
April 11, 2019 6-9pm
Marble Brewing Downtown (Albuquerque) w/Nathan Fox
April 17, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café w/Michael Herndon and Jim Casey
April 24, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café w/Toni Morgan and Jim Casey
April 26, 2019 9:30-12:30
Tonic (Santa Fe) w/Loren Bienvenu and Michael Burt, Jr.
May 8, 2019 7-10pm
Ben Michael’s (Albuquerque) with Rodney Bowe and Arnaldo Acosta
May 9, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café with Hillary Smith and Jim Casey
May 17, 2019 9:30-12:30
Tonic (Santa Fe) w/Jonathan Rodriguez and Casey Anderson
May 25, 2019 7pm
Silver City Blues Festival w/headliner Grady Champion
May 30, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café with Wendy Beach and Jim Casey
May 31 2019 9:30-12:30
Tonic (Santa Fe) w/Loren Bienvenu and Casey Anderson
June 1, 2019 9:30-12:30 – CANCELLED, VENUE DOUBLE-BOOKED
El Mesón (Santa Fe) w/Lee Steck, Casey Anderson, and Chris Jonas
some of the people and groups I have worked with:
Jeff “Skunk” Baxter
Horace Alexander Young
Jane Ira Bloom
Elliot Umberto Kavee
Roberto “Fats” Fernandez
DJ Gone Beyond
Brendan & the Extenuating Circumstances
“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)
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
Kodama Trio on CDBaby
Kodama Trio on Amazon
Robert Muller on Bandcamp