Primary Instrument: Piano
Andrea Keller Pianist & composer
Since the release of her first album in 2000, pianist and composer Andrea Keller has established herself as an important contributor to Australian jazz and contemporary music. Described as having “one of Australia’s most consistently interesting musical minds” (Doug Spencer 2007), she has released numerous albums as leader, toured nationally and internationally, and received commissions from a wide array of musicians, ensembles and organisations.
Her originality and distinctive style has led to invitations to compose music for the Australian Art Orchestra, Mike Nock’s BigSmallBand, the Bennetts Lane Big Band, Ten Part Invention, and Seraphim Trio. She has been the recipient of grants to produce new music, most notably from the Freedman Foundation & Royal Children’s Hospital for ‘A Castle for All’ (2008), the Keir Foundation & Four Winds Festival for ‘Place’ (2010), and Meditations on Light (2012). Her extended work for prepared big band Affectations received the 2012 Art Music Award for Jazz Work of the Year and has been selected to represent the Australian Section at the ISCM Festival World Music Days Poland 2014.
As a performer Keller is best know for her award winning ensemble the Andrea Keller Quartet and her re-workings of the music of Bela Bartok and Wayne Shorter. Her newest ensemble Three Lanes joins the distinctive musical voices of recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey, Joe Talia on Revox B77, electronics & percussion and Keller on piano. In addition to leading her own projects she is a member of the Black Arm Band Company, Keller/Murphy/Browne, Wilson/Keller Duo, Bennetts Lane Big Band (of which she is a co-founding member), and Palaver (a free improvisation ensemble featuring Miroslav Bukovsky).
Among Keller's list of achievements are three ARIA Awards for Best Jazz Album (2008, 2003 & 2002), an Art Music Award for jazz work of the year (2012), and three Australian Jazz Bell Awards - Best Australian Contemporary Jazz Album (2008 & 2003) and Jazz Ensemble of the Year – Andrea Keller Quartet (2012). She was awarded the Freedman Foundation Jazz Fellowship in 2001 and an Australia Council Fellowship in 2010. Keller holds a Bachelor of Music in Improvisation (Honours) from the Victorian College of the Arts and a Master of Arts (Research) from Queensland University of Technology.
The Andrea Keller Quartet performs the distinctive compositions of Keller. Long time collaborators Eugene Ball (trumpet), Ian Whitehurst (tenor saxophone), Joe Talia (drums & electronics) and Andrea Keller (piano) have been said to create music that is a marker of just how good Australian jazz is (Bev Stapleton 2006). The AKQ has released four albums (winning 1 ARIA award, 1 Bell Award and 2 ARIA nominations), and have performed extensively throughout Australia, including a national tour in 2009, and an international tour in 2007. The Andrea Keller Quartet won the Australian Jazz Bell Award for Jazz Ensemble of the Year 2012. “A prayer of thanks seems appropriate. The meeting thirteen years ago of 20 year olds Eugene Ball, Ian Whitehurst and Andrea Keller has grown into a musical congregation of faith that has fulfilled much hope and given us much to love” Roger Mitchell Herald Sun 2007.
Solo Piano has become a prominent feature of Keller’s performance life in recent years. Her debut solo album ‘Footprints – the Wayne Shorter Project’ released by ABC Jazz, won the ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album 2008. 2013 marks the release of Family Portraits, a collection of 11 solo piano pieces, best described as an aural family tree. Composed and performed by Keller on solo piano using the Boss RC50 loop station, Line 6 delay pedal and preparations, Family Portraits was created as part of Keller’s two-year Australia Council Fellowship program (2010-2012).
“Her work is always lit brightly by the spark of originality.” Roger Mitchell, 2012.
One of this country's most daring and fascinating composers, she produces work that bristles with surprises, a powerful blend of European lyricism with space and improvisation. Leon Gettler, 2005.
Awards:2012: winner of the Australian Jazz Bell Award for Best Australian Jazz Ensemble 2012 - The Andrea Keller Quartet. : winner of the Art Music Award for Jazz Work of the Year - 'Affectations' : nominated for the Art Music Award for Excellence in Jazz. 2011: nominated for Bell Award for Jazz Song of the Year ‘Place’, and Jazz Ensemble of the year ‘The Andrea Keller Quartet’. 2010: Awarded a 2 year Australia Council Fellowship to create a large body of work. 2008: winner of the Bell Award for Best Australian Contemporary Jazz Album 2008 (‘Little Claps’ – The Andrea Keller Quartet). : winner of the ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album 2008 (‘Footprints’ – The Wayne Shorter Project, Andrea Keller). 2007: nominated for the ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album 2007 (‘Little Claps’ – The Andrea Keller Quartet). : finalist in the Melbourne Prize For Music. 2006: finalist at the National Jazz Piano Awards (Wangaratta Jazz Festival). 2005: nominated for the ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album 2005 (‘Angels and Rascals’ – The Andrea Keller Quartet). 2003: winner of the Bell Award for Best Australian Contemporary Jazz Album 2003 (‘Mikrokosmos’ – Andrea Keller’s Bartok Project). : winner of the ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album 2003 (‘Mikrokosmos’ – Andrea Keller’s Bartok Project). 2002: winner of the ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album 2002 (‘Thirteen Sketches’ – The Andrea Keller Quintet). 2001: inaugural winner of the MCA/Freedman Foundation Jazz Fellowship. 1999: finalist at the National Jazz Piano Awards (Wangarratta Jazz Festival).
“It’s not surprising that this foray out of Keller’s comfort zone works so well – after all, her work is always lit brightly by the spark of originality… Acoustic, electronic, prepared, improvised and composed elements are interwoven with subtlety, so that there is no feel of artificiality or domination by devices. Review of ‘Three Lanes’ by Roger Mitchell, Ausjazz Blog, April 16, 2012.
“An avant garde, post modern exploration of jazz music. An incredibly innovative and ambitious project.” Review of ‘Three Lanes’ Eastside897fm, April, 2012.
“Delightful in itself, this will also send you back through favourite Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis and Jazz Messengers albums.” Review of ‘Footprints’ by John Clare, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 25, 2008.
“She gives Shorter’s melodies such freedom and vitality that they sound completely spontaneous. At other times her improvisations are so flawlessly structured as to seem set in stone…. This is Keller’s first album without the support of a band or collaborator and it is a ripper.” Review of ‘Footprints’ by Aaron Searle, Music Forum, May – July, 2008. “Imaginatively, she explores the possibilities of her instruments, delighting in her decisions to adjust or retain forms, celebrate harmonies and melodies, and create opportunities for improvisation.” Review of ‘Footprints’ by Roger Mitchell, Sunday Herald Sun, October 5, 2008.
The Andrea Keller Quartet:
“Keller’s latest album proves…that this ensemble is one of the most interesting and consistent in Australian jazz… Brilliant performances by one of this country’s most consistent and enduring ensembles… An embarrassment of riches, and thoroughly recommended.” Review of ‘Galumphing Round the Nation’ by Aaron Searle, MCA Music Forum Magazine, Nov 2010-Jan 2011.
“A feast of compositional and playing styles…Galumphing ably airs the nation’s talent.” Review of ‘Galumphing Round the Nation’ by Roger Mitchell Sunday Herald Sun, August 22, 2010.
“A musical portmanteau; holding in its manifold pockets six Kellaborations, all brillig & frabjous.” Review of ‘Galumphing Round the Nation’ by Arjun von Caemmerer, www.extempore.com.au/?page_id=1126, 2010.
“Keller has one of Australia’s most consistently interesting musical minds.” Review of ‘Little Claps’ by Doug Spencer, www.abc.net.au/rn/weekendplanet/, August, 2007.
“A prayer of thanks seems appropriate. The meeting thirteen years ago of 20 year olds Eugene Ball, Ian Whitehurst and Andrea Keller has grown into a musical congregation of faith that has fulfilled much hope and given us much to love” Review of ‘Little Claps’ by Roger Mitchell, The Herald Sun, August 19, 2007.
“Their music is both friendly and deep. Their colours and textures are brilliantly recorded on this disc, their best I think.” Review of ‘Little Claps’ by John Clare, The Sydney Morning Herald, November, 2007.
“A beautifully conceived work with an awareness of both jazz tradition and aspects of modernist European art music…Keller and her players are consistently outstanding.” Review of ‘Little Claps’ by Michael Webb, www.jazz.org.au, November, 2007.
“Keller's compositions are innately distinctive and interesting. If jazz conventionally has a soul rooted in the blues, Keller's version is much more cross-fertilised with contemporary classical music… Keller was a joy throughout with her delicate touch and beautiful ways of building tension.” Review of the Andrea Keller Quartet Sydney, by John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 4, 2006.
One of this country's most daring and fascinating composers, she produces work that bristles with surprises, a powerful blend of European lyricism with space and improvisation. Review of 'Angels and Rascals' by Leon Gettler, The AGE, May 5, 2005.
One of the most original thinkers on the Australian scene... she has the priceless ability to think outside the square. Review of 'Angels and Rascals' by Adrian Jackson, Rhythms, August, 2005.
Pianist Andrea Keller is a major talent on the thriving Australian scene... Apart from being an outstanding piano player, Keller has the gift for writing totally distinctive and engaging compositions. This recording stands as a marker of just how good Australian jazz is. Review of 'Angels and Rascals' by Bev Stapleton, AllAboutJazz.com, January, 2006.
Glorious! Review of 'Angels and Rascals' by John Clare, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 18-19, 2005.
These musicians (are) such a fine and inspiring lot. Review of 'Angels and Rascals' by Jasmine Crittenden, Drum Media, July 5, 2005.
Angels and Rascals is further compelling evidence of Keller's brilliance. Review of 'Angels and rascals' by Kenny Weir, Sunday Herald Sun, July 24, 2005.
“Ingenious compositions…Keller is a fine technician and fiery improviser who can also withdraw into a soft-focus world of dreams, impressions and confessions.” Review of ‘Thirteen Sketches’ by John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 23-24, 2002.
“From the opening notes of the first track, as her energetic piano ostinato sets up a range of themes, it’s clear that Andrea Keller has an impressive recording on her hands … Keller has been justifiably lauded for her virtuosic and sensitive pianistic abilities.” Review of ‘Thirteen Sketches’ by Ashleigh Wilson, The Weekend Australian, October 6 – 7, 2001.
“Keller joins the more creative writers for this instrumentation worldwide.” Review of ‘Thirteen Sketches’ by John Clare, MCA Music Forum, Oct-Nov, 2001.
The Bartok Project:
“It’s a potent combination of players and Keller’s superb writing and arranging makes the most of their talents – both as interpreters and improvisers.” Review of ‘Mikrokosmos’ by Jessica Nicholas, The Age, March 6, 2002.
“Keller is a very accomplished pianist indeed with a sure touch, deft technique and strong improvisational ideas… This is an extremely important and visionary project in the overall output of Australian new music.” Review of ‘Mikrokosoms’ by Mark Isaacs, Music Forum.
“Keller’s Mikrokosoms project is a winner.” Review of ‘The Bartok Project’ by Xenia Hanusiak, The Herald Sun, January 28, 2003.
“Keller has extended the piano works with tact, taste, intelligence and imagination… they are highly pleasing – often quite magical and exciting – adaptations.” Review of ‘Mikrokosoms’ by John Clare, the Sydney Morning Herald, January 4, 2003..
“Keller is becoming one of those musicians whose CD you can buy without a listening test because you are assured of getting something special.” Review of ‘Mikrokosmos’ by Ashleigh Wilson, The Weekend Australian, January 25-26, 2003.
“A superb album.” Review of ‘Mikrokosoms’ in Café Beat, summer 2002.
“Keller oozed a joy in playing, and her outstanding credentials as a composer were witnessed… a major talent.” John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 23, 2001.
Galumphing Round the Nation: Collaborations Project: Andrea Keller Quartet (Jazzhead, 2010)
Life that Lingers: Wilson/Keller (Downstream, 2009)
Hush volume 8: A Castle for All (Hush, 2008)
The Snip: Bennetts Lane Big Band (ABC Jazz, 2008)
Footprints: The Wayne Shorter Project: Andrea Keller (ABC Jazz, 2007)
Little Claps: Andrea Keller Quartet (Jazzhead, 2007)
Carried by the Sun: Keller/Murphy/Browne (Jazzhead, 2006)
Angels and Rascals: Andrea Keller Quartet (ABC Jazz, 2005)
Mikrokosmos: Andrea Keller's Bartok Project (ABC Jazz 2002)
Thirteen Sketches: Andrea Keller Quintet (Newmarket Music, 2001)
Icedreaming: Hustas-Keller (Newmarket Music, 2000)
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