Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Coker, Keller

Coker, Keller, trombone, sackbut, cittern, viola da gamba, composition; b. Salem, Oregon, 4 December 1965. A native Oregonian, Coker began playing trombone at the age of fourteen, and immediately took to performing as a jazz and classical trombone player. He had private trombone studies with Ira Nepus (Woody Herman Big Band, Benny Carter All Stars, etc.), George Bohanon (Count Basie Orchestra, Hollywood Bowl All Stars, etc.) and Terry Cravens (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, etc.). He had private composition studies with Vince Mendoza (John Abercrombie, Michael Brecker, Gary Burton, The London Symphony Orch.), Milcho Leviev (Freeflight, Don Ellis), Matt Catingub (Toshiko Akioshi), and Larry McVey (Harry James, Gene Krupa). He privately studied tenor viol, cittern with James Tyler (London Early Music Group, David Munrow, The English Concert, etc.)

His academic degrees (all from the University of Southern California) include a Bachelor of Music (Magna cum laude), Jazz Studies, 1988, Master of Music, Jazz Studies, 1990, Ph.D. (all but dissertation), Historical Musicology, 1994 and Doctor of Musical Arts, Early Music Performance, 1996.
His focus turned to jazz in the 1980's and he performed with such notable musicians and ensembles as Bobby Bradford, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Clayton/Hamilton Big Band, The Jack Sheldon Big Band, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, The Fabulous Dorsey Orchestra, Freddie Hubbard, Milcho Leviev, Vince Mendoza, Bette Midler, Vanessa Williams, Bernadette Peters, The Temptations, The Coasters, The Four Tops, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, The Box Tops, Glen Moore, Bill Watrous, Mel Brown, Snooky Young, Dan Balmer, Richard Smith, Whirled
Jazz, and Western Rebellion.

In 1990, while teaching and performing jazz at the University of Southern California, Coker became associated with legendary lutenist James Tyler, and became enamored with early music. His collaborations with Tyler coupled with his improvisational approach to the repertories of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music has garnered him a reputation as an important performer of music from these periods. In 1994 he founded the Ensemble de' Medici whose recordings of renaissance and early baroque music continue to make an impact on the early music scene.

Since 1990, Coker has produced several recordings on various labels, including Sony Classical, RCM, and Sierra. As a producer he has worked with many talented artists including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, The Debussy Trio, Los Angeles Musica Viva, Gilles Apap and the Transylvanian Mountain Boys, and his own Ensemble de' Medici. In 1994 he co-founded the RCM recording label.

Coker is currently an Associate Professor at Western Oregon University where he teaches music history and directs the WOU Jazz Orchestra and the WOU Early Music Ensemble. He continues to regularly perform and record on trombone, sackbut, cittern, and viola da gamba. He is currently active in the Art Abrams Swing Machine, Whirled Jazz and Soundmoves (a group dedicated to the works of living composers). He is a commissioned composer for stage, television, and film, and a publisher of Renaissance and Baroque music editions. His commissions and grants include projects funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Council for the Arts, and Western Oregon University. He received Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Jazz Studies, and a Doctor of Musical Arts (Early Music Performance) degree from the University of Southern California.

Recordings as producer:
Ensemble de' Medici: Frescobaldi Begli Occhi Io Non Provo (1994), Isaac Natalis Domini (1995), Lassus La Cortesea (1995); Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra: Haydn Symphonies Nos. 43 & 48 (1996), Mozart, Symphonies Nos. 34, 29, &17 (1996); The Debussy Trio: Mays, Bach, Frank In the Shadow of a Miracle (1996); Los Angeles Master Chorale and Sinfonia Orchestra: Christmas (1996); Gilles Apap & the Transylvanian Mountain Boys:  D'ici & d'Ailleurs (1997); Gilles Apap and Victoria Postnikova: Bartok Sonata for violin and piano nos. 1 & 2 (1998); James Tyler and Musica Viva: The Leaves Be Green (1998); Sprague High School Orchestra 2000-2001 Season (2001); WOU Chamber Singers, Stephen Hatfield: As Above So Below (2002); Aebi-Coulson and Friends: Present Moment (2002); Western Rebellion: Western Rebellion (2004); Clovis Cabal: Clovis Cabal (2004); Keller Coker: Foovy (2004)

Recordings as performer/director:
Ensemble de' Medici: Frescobaldi Begli Occhi Io Non Provo (1994), Isaac Natalis Domini (1995), Lassus La Cortesea (1995), The Renaissance Album (1998); James Tyler and Musica Viva: The Leaves Be Green (1998); Lifescapes: Ragtime (2000); Whirled Jazz: Mukilteo (2001); Dave Leslie: The Brim (2002); Ronnie Manne: 9-1-1 (2002); The Alessandro's Quartet: Alessandro's Quartet Christmas (2002); Aebi-Coulson and Friends: Present Moment (2002); Western Rebellion: Western Rebellion (2004); Gordon Lee and the Gleeful Big Band: Flying Dream (2004); Clovis Cabal: Clovis Cabal (2004); Keller Coker: Foovy (2004); Christopher Woitach: Christopher Woitach (2004)

Films:
Love and Dynamite (1989); I Dreamt I Was a Butterfly (1991); Hot Shots (1991); For the Boys (1991); Sinatra (1992); Blue Chips (1994)

Television credits:
Ancient Mysteries: Hadrian's Wall; Ancient Mysteries: Life and Death in Britain's Ancient Theat; Ancient Mysteries: Rosetta Stone; Ancient Mysteries: Incredible Monuments of Rome; Ancient Mysteries: Quest for the Fountain of Youth; Ancient Mysteries: Miraculous Canals of Venice; Biography: Leif Ericson; CBS Sunday Morning News: March 18, 2001; History's Mysteries: Bounty Hunters; Roman War Machine: Barbarians At the Gate; Roman War Machine: First Our Neighbors Then the World; Roman War Machine: Roman Siege Warfare; Roman War Machine: Roman Versus Roman; Tales of the Gun: European Revolvers;
Tales of the Gun: Naval Guns; Tales of the Gun: Big Guns; Tales of the Gun: Early Guns;
Tales of the Gun: Million Dollar Guns; Tales of the Gun: Mounted Cavalry; Tales of the Gun: Shotguns;
Tales of the Gun: Women and Guns; Tales of the Gun: Guns of the Revolution; Tales of the Gun: Russian Military Guns; Tales of the Gun: Bullets and Ammo; Tales of the Gun: Police Guns

Radio broadcasts:
KUSC (Los Angeles), KPFK (Burbank), KXLU (Los Angeles)

Bibliography:
Los Angeles Times, Statesman Journal, Early Music America, Continuo, WOJ

Publications:
Coker's Comprehensive Brass Routines
Volume I: 64 Routines for the Pre-professional Brass Player (2004)

Contact information:
cokerk@wou.edu
Keller Coker
2090 Front St NE
Salem OR 97303

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