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.