Born: December 29, 1958 Primary Instrument: Drums
Drummer, composer, arranger and producer George Schuller, a native of New York City, moved to Boston in 1967 where he was raised and educated, and later received a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music in 1982.
For the next twelve years, Schuller was a fixture on the Boston area jazz scene performing with Herb Pomeroy, Jaki Byard, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Mick Goodrick, John Lockwood, Ran Blake, Lisa Thorson, Billy Pierce, Bruce Gertz, Mili Bermejo, John LaPorta and Hal Crook.
In 1984, he co-founded the twelve-piece ensemble Orange Then Blue recording several acclaimed albums, including the 1999 release, Hold The Elevator: Live in Europe and Other Haunts (GM Recordings). Orange Then Blue toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Middle East and Europe during the early to mid-90s.
Over the last two decades, Schuller has also released several albums as a leader, including his first CD, Lookin Up From Down Below (GM Recordings), and two releases with the Schulldogs, Tenor Tantrums (New World Records) and Hellbent (Playscape Recordings).
Schuller's other recordings as a leader include Round'bout Now (Playscape Recordings) with his band Circle Wide, and JigSaw (482 Music) featuring an all-star cast of New York improvisers including Tony Malaby, Mark Feldman, Dave Ballou, Howard Johnson and Ed Schuller.
In 1995, Schuller appeared on Joe Lovano's critically acclaimed album Rush Hour (Blue Note), featuring compositions and arrangements by his father, Gunther Schuller, which was named DownBeat's Album of the Year. Schuller has also performed with Joe Lovano and Gunther Schuller at Jazz at Lincoln Center (with artistic director Wynton Marsalis), and in Linz, Austria during a week-long festival of Gunther Schuller's compositional works.
He has performed and/or recorded with many of today's leading musicians including Lee Konitz, Mose Allison, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nnenna Freelon, Ran Blake, Fred Hersch, Tom Varner, Mark Helias, Tony Malaby, Dave Douglas, Gebhard Ullmann and The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
As a producer, he has found himself on the other side of the glass producing albums by Orange Then Blue, Luciana Souza, Ed Schuller, Heather Bennett, the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, Ballin' The Jack, Mili Bermejo, Free Range Rat, Michael Musillami and Lisa Thorson.
His compositions and arrangements have been recorded by Ran Blake, Burton Greene, Conference Call, Orange Then Blue, Ed Schuller, Carlo Morena, Mike Metheny, Ballin' The Jack, Your Neighborhood Sax Quartet, Wilder/Woodman/LaPorta Sextet, Mili Bermejo and Lisa Thorson.
Major appearances with various bands have included U.S. festivals in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Rochester, Ravinia, Sedonna, Discover, Sandpoint, and Lake George along with Canadian festivals in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Guelph, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Rimouski and Saskatoon as well as European festivals such as Berlin, Bolzano, Braga, Bergen, Northsea, Ost-West, Zagreb, Karava, Stavinger, Geneva, and many others.
He has received several composition awards including a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship for Music Composition (1987), NEA Composition Grant (1995) as well as The Julius Hemphill Composition Award (2000).
Since 1994, Schuller has lived in Brooklyn, where he freelances in the New York City area performing with Matt Darriau's Ballin' The Jack, the Michael Musillami Trio, the Mili Bermejo/George Schuller Octet, Lisa Thorson & Co., Free Range Rat, the Armen Donelian Trio, Step In (w/ Joe Fonda) and Conference Call.
He also continues to lead his own groups, The Schulldogs, Circle Wide and JigSaw.
Awards:Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship for Music Composition (1987)
Nominated for Best Jazz Drummer, Boston Music Awards (1990)
NEA Composition Grant (1995)
Julius Hemphill Composition Award (2000)
--Chris Kelsey, JazzTimes
Drummer George Schuller is a significant member of today’s progressive
jazz scene. Whether
performing as a sideman or leading his own projects, Schuller’s pen
represents a potent and forward
--Glenn Astarita, JazzReview.com
Schuller knows how to use composition to spur improvisation, and as a way
to organize free blowing
so that it never sounds arbitrary. What’s more, funky tunes like ‘Band Vote’
will keep you whistling after
the CD is over.
--Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
George Schuller's talent on Hellbent lies in his ability to keep
the quartet together
periods of order and disorder. He uses drums, rather than cymbals, much of
the time to sharpen edges
and provide contrast. Schuller's playing is particularly refreshing because he
doesn't generally play on
(or off) the beat -- instead, he comes in and out unexpectedly, dancing
around the pulse.
--Nils Jacobson, AllAboutJazz.com
Schuller's compositions create an effective balance between form and
freedom; his melodic sense is
firmly rooted in the post-Ornette vocabulary, and his rhythmic conception is
finely connected to the
time/space continuum. As a drummer, Schuller propels, swings hard and has
the rare ability to conjure
form out of seeming chaos.
-- Ed Friedland, Tuscon Weekly
Schuller's charts provide fruitful frameworks for the improvising, with loose-
limbed harmonic lines
and purposeful rhythmic foundations underpinning free-wheeling melodic
parts from the horns.
George Schuller is an endlessly inventive drummer, tooling around his
augmented kit he is a whirl of
tiny cymbal clashes and ping-ponging percussive accents one minute, a
throttling mass of press rolls
and punishing back beats the next.
--Troy Collins, Cadence
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