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 was part of an inspired new modern jazz trio called Hi Happy in 2019, along with drummer phenom Jonathan Rodriguez and bass (and keyboard) phenom Casey Anderson, until Jonathan relocated to Seattle, Washington. They continue to collaborate and are working on an upcoming recording project with bassist Lisle Ellis.

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 was shuttered after the 2017-2018 school year.)

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 Yamaha, Nord, Kawai Pianos, Korg, Bose, Roland, Novation, Ultimate Support Systems, Apple, Event Audio, Ultimate Ears, and Ableton. Or just a real piano, whenever one is available.

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


Calendar

September 6, 2019 9pm
Jazz at Sunset (El Paso, TX) w/Michael Herndon Group

September 19, 2019
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

October 11, 2019 6:00-9:00pm
Jimmy D’s w/Los Primos

October 17, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café w/Got Soul and Michael Herndon

October 24, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café w/Got Soul and Wendy Beach

November 2-3, 6:00-9:00pm
Santa Ana Casio Lounge54 w/The Bus Tapes

November 14, 2019 6-8pm
Placitas Café w/Got Soul and Toni Morgan

November 20, 6:30-9:30pm
2019 Frank Morgan Taos Jazz Festival
Alex Murzyn w/Pete Amahl Quartet, at the Adobe Bar at Doc Martin’s

November 23, 2019 9:30-12:30
Tonic (Santa Fe) w/Lee Steck and Casey Anderson


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