Robert Muller

pianist • composer • improviser

about

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 he 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. (Note: In 2019, Joy was named Poet Laureate of the United States!!! I’m honored to call her a friend.)

He has performed at NAMM with Public Enemy’s Brian Hardgroove, former Scatterbrain drummer Mike Boyko, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Grammy-winner Larry Mitchell, and Kansas (and Dixie Dregs) guitarist Steve Morse. He was the music director a Nathan East tribute at the 2016 New Mexico Film and Music Experience – he arranged music and led a New Mexico-based all-star tribute band, and then performed with 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 on a Wurly these days.

He’s also an experienced photographer and has had his work appear in Santa Fean magazine and Architectural Digest.


Calendar

July 25, 2019 6:30-9:30pm
Adobe Bar (Taos), A Tribute to John Coltrane w/Alex Murzyn, Andy Zadrozny and Peter Acosta Amoral

August 1, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café w/Got Groove and Michael Herndon

August 3, 2019 8pm
African American Performance Center (Albuquerque), The Gatekeepers featuring Michael Herndon and Toni Morgan

August 7, 2019 7-9pm
Kaktus (Bernalillo) w/Got Groove

August 11, 2019 7pm
Canyon Blues and Jazz (Placitas), Toni Morgan Sings Chaka Khan

August 15, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café w/Got Groove and Wendy Beach

August 30, 2019 7pm
The Skillet (Las Vegas, NM) w/The Fat Sweet

September 6, 2019 time tbd, festival 6-11pm
Jazz at Sunset (El Paso, TX) w/Michael Herndon Group

September 19, 2019 time tbd
Library of Congress (Washington, DC) w/Joy Harjo

September 27, 2019 9:30-12:30
Tonic (Santa Fe) w/Lee Steck and Casey Anderson

October 5, 2019 7:30-10:30
El Meson (Santa Fe) w/Alex Murzyn


some of the people and groups I have worked with:

performances

Larry Mitchell
Nathan East
Jerry Lopez
Robert Mirabal
Joy Harjo
Alex Murzyn
Ryan Montaño
Steve Morse
David Murray
Jeff “Skunk” Baxter
Brian Hardgroove
Shelly Morningsong
Horace Alexander Young
Steve Lacy
Chris Calloway
Gary Barrone
Jane Ira Bloom
Nathan Hanson
Federico Ughi
Grady Champion
Toni Morgan
James East
Nathan Fox
Elliot Umberto Kavee
Hiram Bullock
Dave Liebman
Eddie Gomez
Roberto “Fats” Fernandez
John Kurzweg
Greg Phillinganes
Maya Azucena
Maria Christensen
Leroy Vinegar
Dan Balmer
Michael Herndon
Eric Udell
Pete “Costa” Amahl

recordings

Pete Miser
Joy Harjo
Jenny Georing
Larry Mitchell
Shelly Morningsong
Shunnae Love
Kodama Trio
Timefly
Brian Hardgroove
Steve Klenke
Christian Pincock
DJ Gone Beyond
Brendan & the Extenuating Circumstances
Chase Morrison
Kristy Hinds


reviews

“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)


Sounds

 

Pictures


Videos


Contact

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
www.kodamatrio.com