«Graham Collier Music» - biography, albums, songs, video clips

GRAHAM COLLIER’s career spans three decades of innovation at the forefront of British jazz. He was the first British graduate of Berklee School of Jazz, Boston, and the first British jazz composer to receive a commission from the Arts Council. Composition, conducting, education and journalism have taken him around the world.


A pioneer … a true British jazz original

- The Times, London


His new group, The Jazz Ensemble, includes - as with his previous groups - major names from Europe and the USA, many of them colleagues from earlier line-ups, and new talent, often students of the Royal Academy of Music jazz course, which he directed until recently resigning to concentrate on his own work.


Collier’s ideas are opening up new experiences for players in big bands and for listeners too.

- Erik Moseholm, Rhythmic Music Conservatory, Copenhagen, Denmark


He has released fifteen albums and is the author of six books, including the highly-praised Interaction - Opening Up the Jazz Ensemble (Advance). As well as directing the jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music from its inception in 1987 until 2000, he has taught across north America, Europe, India and the Far East.


His unique voice adds an important variety to current jazz ensemble music. Few will not be touched by his work.

- Ned Corman, The Commission Project, Rochester, New York


Until resigning from the Royal Academy of Music in 2000, he was secretary to the daily board the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) from its inception, and was editor and publisher of its magazine, Jazz Changes throughout its seven-year history. In 1987 he was awarded an OBE for his contribution to jazz. On other pages, you can read a detailed biography, a complete list of works and a selection of reviews from a quarter century of critical comment.


Graham Collier Jazz Workshops


“On the evidence of this performance, the services of Graham Collier should be secured by just about every jazz big band on the planet.” - John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, 1999, reviewing a student workshop performance of The Third Colour


For more than two decades, Graham Collier has been one of the world’s most innovative and inspirational jazz educators. He founded jazz degree courses for the Sibelius Institute in Helsinki and, famously, at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he was artistic director of the jazz department for ten years before moving to Andalucia, southern Spain, to concentrate on his own work.


His seven books on jazz, jazz history, theory and composition address all levels of jazz activity, from the interested lay reader to the professional composer, and have been praised by such diverse figures as Ellis Marsalis and Lee Bash. His most personal book, Interaction, Opening Up the Jazz Ensemble (Advance Music) embodies his own philosophy of writing and teaching jazz: to free the composer, musicians and audience from hidebound notions of what jazz should and should not be. Lee Bash, reviewing Interaction for the International Association of Jazz Educators Journal, wrote that it “holds the promise of liberating the music and our classrooms like nothing I have encountered in print”.


Graham Collier’s jazz workshops cover in as practical a way as possible how the jazz ensemble can be encouraged to produce music which is more creative as well as being more productive for the musician and more entertaining for the audience. Techniques which can be useful with players new to improvising or with players who can improvise to a high standards will be discussed and developed. These techniques deal with improvising on different levels at the same time and can also be effectively used with groups of mixed ability.


The underlying idea in his workshop practice is that there are three kinds of improvising in jazz (not a new idea: they are present in all good jazz):


The main soloist who improvises in front of the band;


textural improvising, where a group of players is asked to create backgrounds using various methods and techniques. Normally seen in the work of the rhythm section, whose ideas are developed in workshops structured towards a final performance, often before an audience;


and structural improvising, where the structure of the piece changes from performance to performance. In simple terms this could be the number of blues choruses played by each soloist in successive performances. By definition, structural improvising happens over a period of time and it is towards this that his workshops develop.


There is thus an Interaction between the music, the players and the director. This results in the musicians approaching the music in a far more contributory way than normal (even in jazz) and each performance of the piece is designed to be different in almost all its elements. The basic structure and ideas remain the same but the duration and much of the content of the composition is determined by what happens in performance.


These ideas are explored in far greater detail in Interaction, Opening Up the Jazz Ensemble which, with its accompanying CD of examples, deals concisely but thoroughly with all aspects of the method from beginners’ workshops to those for advanced players.


Interaction is obtainable from Advance Music at:Advance Music or by email to distributors Jazzwise at Jazzwise


Graham Collier’s workshops have been presented around the world with many colleges and universities regularly inviting him back. A partial list includes:-


The Royal Academy of Music, London

Berklee College of Music, Boston

The New School, New York

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles

Eastman School of Music

Banff Music Centre, Banff, Canada

Rhythmic Music Conservatory, Copenhagen - annually since 1995

Agder Folkehogskole, Sogne, Norway - annually since 1994

Musik Hochschule, Koln

Hochschule fur Musik Hanns Eisler, Berlin

Hochschule fur Musik Graz - regularly throughout the 1990s

Bruckner Music Conservatorium, Linz - four times in the 1990s

Royal Conservatory, The Hague

Taller de Musics, Barcelona

Musikhochschule Gothenburg University

Rimon School of Jazz, Tel Aviv, Israel

Vesby Big Band, Norway - twice in three years