Herb Geller

Last updated

Herb Geller
Birth nameHerbert Arnold Geller
Born(1928-11-02)November 2, 1928
Los Angeles, California, US
DiedDecember 19, 2013(2013-12-19) (aged 85)
Hamburg, Germany
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
InstrumentsSaxophone, flute
Years active1946–2013
Associated acts Lorraine Geller
Website www.herbgeller.com

Herbert Arnold Geller (November 2, 1928 – December 19, 2013) was an American jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger. He was born in Los Angeles, California. [1]

Contents

Early life

His mother, Frances (née Frances Mildred Fullman, also known as Fannie Fullman; 1899–1980), worked at the Hollywood neighborhood cinemas playing piano, accompanying silent movies. At the age of 8, Geller was presented with an alto saxophone, purchased from a local music store owner and music teacher who was also a family friend and had a used instrument for sale. Two years later, he started playing the clarinet. Geller attended Dorsey High School in the southwestern part of Los Angeles and joined the school band which among others included the musicians Eric Dolphy and Vi Redd. At the age of 14, he heard Benny Carter perform at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles and was so impressed that he decided to pursue a career in music, specializing on the alto saxophone. Two years later, he had his first professional engagement in the band of jazz violinist Joe Venuti. [1]

A short time later, he discovered the music of Charlie Parker, who became an important idol along with Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges. In 1949, Geller went to New York City for the first time, where he performed in the bands of Jack Fina, (with Paul Desmond also in the sax section), Claude Thornhill, Jerry Wald, and Lucky Millinder. During this time, he met pianist Lorraine Walsh in Los Angeles. Geller and Walsh got married in New York and she became an important musical partner, in addition to pursuing her own solo career.

Career

After three years in New York, Geller joined the Billy May orchestra in 1952 and, following an engagement in Los Angeles, the Gellers returned there to live. Among the groups Geller worked and recorded with were Shorty Rogers, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Holman, Shelly Manne, Marty Paich, Barney Kessel, André Previn, Quincy Jones, Wardell Gray, Jack Sheldon and Chet Baker. Lorraine worked as the house pianist at the Lighthouse Jazz Club, and played with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Jack Teagarden, Bill Holman and was the accompanist for the singer Kay Starr. Geller recorded three LPs as a leader for Emarcy plus some with Dinah Washington, Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson, and Kenny Drew.

In 1955, he won the "New Star Award" from DownBeat magazine and achieved worldwide recognition through his recordings with Clifford Brown. Later, Geller worked in the bands of Louie Bellson and Benny Goodman.

Lorraine Geller died of an acute asthma attack in 1958. Deeply depressed, Herb Geller decided during a tour through Brazil with the Benny Goodman Orchestra not to return to the United States, but instead, to stay in São Paulo for six weeks playing Bossa Nova music at a local club and then depart on a ship to Europe.

Europe

Arriving in Paris, Geller played with Kenny Clarke, Kenny Drew, the French pianist Martial Solal, and Belgian guitarist René Thomas among others, and also toured with a French radio show, Musique Aux Champs-Elysées.

In 1962, he was offered a job with the big band of the Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) station in Berlin. [2] He accepted this engagement and performed there along with other Americans expatriates In Europe such as Benny Bailey, Joe Harris, and Nat Peck, as well as European musicians like Jerry van Rooyen, Ake Persson, and Francy Boland. In Berlin, he met his second wife, Christine Rabsch. Geller stayed there for three years and then accepted a contract to play lead alto and also arrange for the big band of NDR in Hamburg. Here, he was engaged for 28 years and made Hamburg his home. During this time, the NDR big band developed from a post-war dance orchestra into a leading modern jazz ensemble. The endless list of participating musicians ranged from Don Byas, Joe Pass, Slide Hampton, Bill Evans, Red Mitchell, Art Farmer, Georgie Fame, and Chet Baker to avant-garde musicians and rock/fusion, and included nearly all the big names of European jazz.

During his work at NDR, Geller was also busy with other things, including his own productions and tours. During this time, he also participated in recordings and worked with such famous artists as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Peter Herbolzheimer, and George Gruntz among others.

During his tenure at NDR, he also learned and performed on other woodwind instruments, including clarinet, flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo flute, oboe, and English horn. On flute, he played and recorded with Bill Evans and Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell.

He also composed the music and lyrics to two musicals: Playing Jazz (a musical autobiography) and Jazzy Josie B. (based on the life of Josephine Baker).

In 1996, the Senate of the Government of Hamburg gave him the title of "Professor". He taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg until his retirement. He continued teaching jazz improvisation and composition, occasionally doing seminars at various national and international institutes. He wrote a method of improvisation called "crossover" for Schott and Sons.

Geller performed regularly in Germany and abroad as a soloist at festivals and clubs in various formations including some big bands as well as with such diverse artists as Knut Kiesewetter, Lennie Niehaus, Jiggs Whigham, Rolf Kühn, Slide Hampton, Buddy DeFranco, Lew Soloff, Charlie Mariano, Jan Lundgren, and Roberto Magris. He was very proud of his friendship with Benny Carter, his adolescent hero, with whom he recorded and performed. Geller participated at the Hollywood Bowl celebrations for Carter's ninetieth birthday in 1997. In 2008, he was featured on the Berlin Jazz Orchestra, music DVD (Polydor/Universal) Strangers In Night - The Music Of Bert Kaempfert which was released in 2012.

Geller died of pneumonia in a hospital in Hamburg, Germany, aged 85, on December 19, 2013. He had been undergoing treatment the past 12 months for a form of lymphoma. [3] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. [4]

Discography

As leader

As sideman

With Chet Baker

With Louie Bellson

With Buddy Bregman

With Clifford Brown

With Benny Carter

With Maynard Ferguson

With Stan Getz, Francy Boland and the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band

With Stan Kenton

With Barney Kessel

with Dinah Washington

with Ella Fitzgerald

With Shorty Rogers

With others

Related Research Articles

Maynard Ferguson

Walter Maynard Ferguson CM was a Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader. He came to prominence in Stan Kenton's orchestra before forming his own big band in 1957. He was noted for his bands, which often served as stepping stones for up-and-coming talent, his versatility on several instruments, and his ability to play in a high register.

Charlie Shavers

Charles James Shavers was an American jazz trumpeter who played with Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Dodds, Jimmie Noone, Sidney Bechet, Midge Williams, Tommy Dorsey, and Billie Holiday. He was an arranger and composer, and one of his compositions, "Undecided", is a jazz standard.

Urbie Green American jazz musician

Urban Clifford "Urbie" Green was an American jazz trombonist who toured with Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Jan Savitt, and Frankie Carle. He played on over 250 recordings and released more than two dozen albums as a soloist. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995.

Conte Candoli American musician

Secondo "Conte" Candoli was an American jazz trumpeter based on the West Coast. He played in the big bands of Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, and Dizzy Gillespie, and in Doc Severinsen's NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He played with Gerry Mulligan, and on Frank Sinatra's TV specials. He also recorded with Supersax, a Charlie Parker tribute band that consisted of a saxophone quintet, the rhythm section, and either a trumpet or trombone.

Curtis Counce

Curtis Counce was an American hard bop and West Coast jazz double bassist.

Buddy Childers

Marion "Buddy" Childers was an American jazz trumpeter, composer and ensemble leader. Childers became famous in 1942 at the age of 16, when Stan Kenton hired him to be the lead trumpet in his band.

Terry Gibbs

Terry Gibbs is an American jazz vibraphonist and band leader.

Dave Tough

Dave Tough (April 26, 1907 – December 9, 1948, was an American jazz drummer associated with Dixieland and swing jazz in the 1930s and 1940s.

Georgie Auld

Georgie Auld was a jazz tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, and bandleader.

Milt Bernhart

Milt Bernhart was a West Coast jazz trombonist who worked with Stan Kenton, Frank Sinatra, and others. He supplied the solo in the middle of Sinatra's 1956 recording of I've Got You Under My Skin conducted by Nelson Riddle.

Bernie Glow was an American trumpet player who specialized in jazz and commercial lead trumpet from the 1940s to 1970s.

James Milton Cleveland was an American jazz trombonist born in Wartrace, Tennessee.

Bob Cooper (musician)

Bob Cooper was a West Coast jazz musician known primarily for playing tenor saxophone, but also for being one of the first to play jazz solos on oboe.

Herbert Harper was an American jazz trombonist of the West Coast jazz school.

Alvin Stoller was an American jazz drummer. Though he seems to have been largely forgotten, he was held in high regard in the 1940s and 1950s. He was best known for playing drums on both Mitch Miller's recording of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and Stan Freberg's parody of Miller's recording.

Daniel Bernard Bank was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and flautist. He is credited on some releases as Danny Banks.

Bill Holman (musician) American composer

Willis Leonard Holman, known professionally as Bill Holman, is an American composer, arranger, conductor, saxophonist, and songwriter working in jazz and traditional pop. His career is over seven decades long, having started with the Charlie Barnet orchestra in 1950.

The recordings of American jazz saxophonist Stan Getz from 1944 to 1991.

Pullman Gerald "Tommy" Pederson was an American trombonist and composer – prolific in jazz, big band, and classical genres. He had performed and recorded with big bands and artists that included Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Nelson Riddle, Doc Severinsen, and Frank Sinatra. He was also a prolific studio musician for movie soundtracks, television and radio shows, and other recordings – sometimes playing as many as six studio sessions a day.

Bud Shank discography

Clifford Everett "Bud" Shank, Jr. was an American alto saxophonist and flautist. He had an extensive career, releasing albums in seven different decades.

References

  1. 1 2 Wynn, Ron (1994), Ron Wynn (ed.), All Music Guide to Jazz , M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, p.  269, ISBN   0-87930-308-5
  2. McCord, Kimberly; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Geller, Herb(ert)". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. pp. 24–25. ISBN   1-56159-284-6.
  3. "Herb Geller, 1928-2013 | Rifftides". Artsjournal.com. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  4. Jazz Hot