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Herb Geller: A Musician's Musician

Joan Gannij By

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After he retired from the NDR in 1994 he maintained an active schedule that included playing, teaching, and recording engagements, He also taught at conservatories in Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam, and authored "Crossover,'' a jazz instruction book. "He was a sincere, classy guy, a gentleman musician," is how van Rooyen describes him. "He believed 100% in his music and had a lot of integrity. Plus, he stood absolutely behind the music, and was also a supportive colleague. He was one of the few musicians that I knew that had played with Clifford Brown. I respected him not only as a musician, but as a man."

When I tell van Rooyen about the Oslo jam session during the Oslo Jazz Festival when Herb held his own surrounded by younger players, he smiles and says: "He had a great enthusiasm, and a never-failing appetite and interest for music until his 80s. In the last years when he played while perched on a stool on stage, Herb simply said, "I'm getting older." True that. But he still had the chops.

Herb Geller was born in Los Angeles, California on November 2, 1928; he passed away in Hamburg, Germany on December 19. 2013.

Photo Credit
Michele Giotto

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