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Graham Collier

Graham Collier's career spans four decades of innovation at the forefront of British jazz. He was the first British graduate of the Berklee School of Jazz, Boston, and the first British jazz composer to receive a commission from the Arts Council. During this time composition, conducting, education and journalism have taken him around the world.

He was born in Tynemouth, England, in 1937. On leaving school he joined the British Army as a musician, spending three years in Hong Kong. He subsequently won a down beat magazine scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston, studying with Herb Pomeroy and becoming its first British graduate in 1963.

Returning to Britain, he formed the first of many line-ups known as Graham Collier Music, dedicated to performing his own compositions. One critic called his bands a ‘nursery for British jazz talent’, and over the years his line-ups have featured almost every British jazz musician of note, among them James Allsopp, Ian Ballamy, Harry Beckett, Chris Biscoe, Geoff Castle, Andy Cleyndert, Roger Dean, Mike Gibbs, Mick Hutton, Pete Hurt, Karl Jenkins, Mark Lockheart, Henry Lowther, John Marshall, Oren Marshall, Dick Pearce, Alan Skidmore, Ed Speight, Stan Sulzmann, John Surman, Art Themen, Derek Wadsworth, Alan Wakeman, Steve Waterman, and Kenny Wheeler.

In 1984, he formed a workshop big band, Loose Tubes, inspired by his concern that young musicians in England weren't getting efficient big band exposure. This multifaceted orchestra was to produce such talents as Julian Arguelles, Django Bates and Eddie Parker.

The international bands Collier has assembled for various special projects around the world have boasted the likes of Johanni Aaltonen, Ted Curson, Hugh Fraser, Palle Mikkelborg, Karlheinz Miklin, Terje Rypdal, Ed Sarath, Manfred Schoof, Harry Sokal, Tomasz Stanko and Eje Thelin.

He has written for ensembles ranging from wind quartets to symphony orchestras and big bands such as the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra and the NDR Big Band. Over a career spanning more than forty years, his list of compositions and commissions has grown to encompass ensembles and arts bodies around the world.

He has released 18 albums and CDs of his own, as well as being part of compilations from such as Gilles Peterson, Babyshambles and Masanori Morita. He has also contributed to recordings by artists ranging from Ted Curson to Tom Robinson. For a full list and details see Recordings.

His latest group is the ad hoc big band The Jazz Ensemble - the italics stress an improvising factor Collier feels has been mislaid by certain superstars and didacts in the field - featuring a roster of regular collaborators, guests from Europe and America, and up-and-coming stars of the European jazz scene. The Jazz Ensemble has recorded two critically acclaimed CDs, Charles River Fragments and The Third Colour.

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Graham Collier:...



"Relook": Graham...

Cuneiform Records



Mosquitojazz Records


The Day of the Dead

BGO Records


Graham Collier:...

Unknown label


Darius / Midnight...

Cuneiform Records



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