pianist • keyboardist • composer • improviser
Robert Muller is an in-demand 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. In addition to being an in-demand sideman for several regional artists, he’s the house keyboard player for Jim Casey’s Got Soul band, and the pianist for Emerson Corley’s Entourage Jazz. He’s actively booking regional house concert and festival work as a solo artist and within small ensemble configurations.
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, or backing up world-class rock and blues musicians at festivals just about anywhere.
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 90s 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 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 was part of an inspired new modern jazz trio called Hi Happy in 2019, along with drummer phenom Jonathan Rodriguez and young lion bassist (and pianist) Casey Anderson, until Jonathan relocated to Seattle, Washington. And in 2022, he was excited to be part of the debut of the Artha Meador’s Quartet.
He has performed at NAMM with Public Enemy’s Brian Hardgroove, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Grammy-winner Larry Mitchell, and Kansas (and Dixie Dregs) guitarist Steve Morse, and opened for artists including Jessica Williams, Kevin Eubanks, and Del the Funkee Homosapien. He was the music director for the Nathan East tribute at the 2016 New Mexico Film and Music Experience when 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, James East, Steve Ferrone, and Nathan East himself. He was also the music director for the New Mexico Jazz Workshop’s 2022 Women’s Voices show, which featured four amazing regional vocalists paying tribute to the Beatles.
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 September 2019, Robert was honored to appear with the 23rd US Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, at her inaugural speech at the Library of Congress, along with Larry Mitchell and bassist Howard Cloud. The occasion was historic in several ways, among them: Joy is the first Native American Poet Laureate, it was the best attended inaugural speech, selling out the main Calvin Coolidge Theater as well as two overflow rooms, and it’s possibly the only time the event has included a live band. Video of the event can be found on the Library of Congress’s YouTube Channel.
He uses gear from companies including Nord, Kawai Pianos, Moog, Korg, Roland, Ultimate Support Systems, Apple, Focusrite, Nektar, Event Audio, and Ultimate Ears.
THINGS ARE HAPPENING!
As the world has cautiously reopened, I’m grateful to be out sharing good music with good people.
I typically don’t post private events or things I know are sold out, but I otherwise do my best to post dates for my best public gigs as they come up – for starters, the Got Soul band is back and performing almost every Thursday in Bernalillo at Kaktus Brewing, and I’m fortunate to be appearing on many of those dates with artists like Hillary Smith, Joe Daddy Warner, Toni Morgan, Andrew Cooper, and Wendy Beach. Come on by if you’re out and about!
Thank you for checking and I can’t wait to see you!
August 4 6pm
Got Soul with Andrew Cooper
Kaktus Brewing, Bernalillo
August 12 6pm
Canvas Artistry, Albuquerque
August 13 7pm
Old Town Gazebo, Albuquerque
August 14 6pm
Canyon Blues Michael Herndon Tribute w/Toni Morgan and Andrew Cooper
The Merc, Placitas
August 25 6pm
Kaktus Brewing, Bernalillo
some of the people and groups I have worked with:
Emerson Corley/Entourage Jazz
Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra
Jeff “Skunk” Baxter
Horace Alexander Young
Jane Ira Bloom
Elliot Umberto Kavee
Roberto “Fats” Fernandez
Pete “Costa” Amahl
HIllary Smith and Chillhouse
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 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)
SoundsI used to have a CDBaby player here but they’ve gone dark, I’ll update with a new player or something from Soundcloud when I get around to it, meanwhile, Kodama Trio still has our album available on Amazon, and I usually have a project or two posted on Bandcamp.
* It has recently come to my attention that my “contact” form broke at some point. Even though it would show a “thank you for your message,” screen when people sent me something, I was not actually getting anything sent to me.
I’m not really sure when it broke, but if you have sent me a message and I have not responded, I sincerely apologize, I always respond. I’m doing away with the whole “contact form” thing for now and you can just send me an email if you want to get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kodama Trio on Amazon
Robert Muller on Bandcamp