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MUSICIAN Born:

Herb Geller

Herb Geller, born on 2. November 1928 in Los Angeles is an American Jazz Musician, Composer and Arranger.

His musical abilities could have been inherited from his mother, Francis. She worked at the neighbourhood cinemas playing piano accompanying silent movies. At the age of 8 he was presented with an alto saxophone, purchased from a local music store owner and music teacher who was also a friend of the family and had a used instrument for sale.
Two years later he started clarinet. Herb attended Dorsey High School in the southwestern part of Los Angeles and joined the school band which among others included the musicians Eric Dolphy, Vi Redd and Bobby White. 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 persue a career in music, specializing on the alto saxophone.
Two years later during a summer vacation he had his first professional engagement in the band of the great jazz violinist Joe Venuti. 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 Herb 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 the pianist Lorraine Walsh in Los Angeles, who later in New York became his wife and also an important musical partner. After three years in New York Herb joined the Billy May orchestra in 1952 and following an engagement in Los Angeles the Gellers returned there to live. The development of the Long Playing Record created more work opportunities for jazz musicians using many different ensembles and the so-called West Coast Jazz style became popular. Among the groups Herb worked and recorded with were Shorty Rogers, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Holman, Shelly Manne, Marty Paich, Barney Kessel, Andre Previn, Quincy Jones, Wardel Grey, 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. Herb recorded three LPs as a leader for Emarcy plus some with Dinah Washington, Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson and Kenny Drew.

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Roberto Magris: Suite!

Read "Suite!" reviewed by Jack Bowers

When appraising a new recording by Roberto Magris, Rule No. 1 is always to expect the unexpected. On eighteen previous albums, the Italian-born pianist has produced tributes to Lee Morgan, Elmo Hope and Cannonball Adderley, welcomed guest artists Herb Geller, Sam Reed and Ira Sullivan, and led groups ranging from trio to septet, all for Kansas ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Matthew Whitaker, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Squirrel Nut Zippers and More

Read "Matthew Whitaker, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Squirrel Nut Zippers and More" reviewed by Joe Dimino

This week we caught up with young pianist Matthew Whitaker who was in our studios. In this episode we also feature clips from the February 2020 Kansas City shows of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Squirrel Nut Zippers. We also spoke with both Ron Burris and Sam Hirsh and showcase their new music. Thanks ...

NEWS: TV / FILM

Brownie Speaks Screening At The Monterey Jazz Festival on September 17

Brownie Speaks Screening At The Monterey Jazz Festival on September 17

Brownie Speaks: A Video Documentary about jazz legend Clifford Brown will be screened at the Monterey Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 5:30 PM. The event, which will include a Q&A with producer/director Don Glanden, will take place at the Jazz Theater. The film has received rave reviews and numerous accolades in the jazz ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Roberto Magris: Need to Bring Out Love

Read "Need to Bring Out Love" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Perhaps the best word with which to describe Italian-born pianist Roberto Magris is busy. Since launching his career in the late '70s, the fifty-six-year-old keyboardist has performed with a veritable who's who of jazz luminaries in forty-one countries, and Need to Bring Out Love is his twenty-seventh album as leader of his own groups (in this ...

An Evening with Herb Geller: Live in Europe 2009

Label: JMOOD* RECORDS
Released: 2015
Track listing: After You; El Cajon; Lonely Woman; The Red Door; Orson; Upper Manhattan Medical Group; Celebrating Bird; 9:20 Special; If I Were a Bell; The Peacocks; Pretty Woman.

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Roberto Magris: Enigmatix

Read "Enigmatix" reviewed by Jack Bowers

As a showcase for Italian-born pianist Roberto Magris' exceptional talents, Enigmatix works quite well. Magris, who has devoted several albums to the music of others (Lee Morgan, Elmo Hope, Cannonball Adderley) and shared center stage with saxophonists Herb Geller and Sam Reed on others, turns the spotlight on himself and his keyboard this time around in ...

ARTICLE: PROFILE

James Clay: Texas Tenor, Second Generation

Read "James Clay: Texas Tenor, Second Generation" reviewed by David Perrine

The term “Texas tenor" was originally coined to describe the sound and style of such swing era players as Herschel Evans, Illinois Jacquet, Buddy Tate, Budd Johnson, Arnett Cobb and others, and has subsequently been applied to second generation players from Texas that included James Clay, David “Fathead" Newman and Marchel Ivery. What these players had ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Jason Stillman: Prelude

Read "Prelude" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Alto saxophonist Jason Stillman's Montreal-based quartet makes its recorded debut on Prelude, a sunny and engaging blend of Stillman originals and jazz standards whose spacious boundaries provide ample room for ardent blowing, especially by Stillman and pianist Josh Rager. Although the group has been a working unit for more than five years, Stillman waited until the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

The Roberto Magris Trio: An Evening with Herb Geller: Live in Europe 2009

Read "An Evening with Herb Geller: Live in Europe 2009" reviewed by Jack Bowers

To followers of jazz in general and West Coast jazz in particular, the late alto saxophonist Herb Geller should need no introduction. Geller, a master of his horn, was a fixture on the West Coast scene and elsewhere in the States until he moved to Germany in 1962 and spent the last half-century of his life ...


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