Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Collier, Graham (James Graham Collier)

Collier, Graham [James Graham Collier], composer, educator, b. Tynemouth, Northumberland, England, 21 February 1937. Collier began his musical career playing trumpet in bands in the south of England, later taking up the double bass. 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. He worked for a while in the USA, playing bass in the ghost version of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

From 1964 he led his own band (Graham Collier Music) in the UK, largely performing his own music. Amongst Collier's sidemen have been many outstanding British musicians including James Allsopp, Iain Ballamy, Harry Beckett, Geoff Castle, Andy Cleynbert, 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, Geoff Warren, Steve Waterman, Kenny Wheeler and others. Varying the size and format of his bands, Collier encouraged new concepts and young musicians, establishing the orchestral base from which Loose Tubes sprang. This multifaceted orchestra was to produce such talents as Julian Arguelles, Django Bates and Eddie Parker.

 Collier was the first recipient of an Arts Council bursary for jazz composition, and has been commissioned by festivals, big bands and broadcasters across Europe, North America, Canada, Australia and the Far East. The international bands Collier has assembled for various special projects around the world have boasted the likes of Johanni Aaltonen, Ted Curson, Hugh Fraser, Palle Mikkelborg, Karlheinz Miklin, Terje Rypdal, Ed Sarath, Manfred Schoof, Tomasz Stanko and Eje Thelin. He has written for ensembles ranging from wind quartets to symphony orchestras. Over a career spanning more than thirty years, his list of compositions and commissions has grown to encompass ensembles and arts bodies around the world.

 His latest group is the ad hoc big band The Jazz Ensemble, featuring a roster of regular collaborators, guests from Europe and America, and up-and-coming stars of the English jazz scene. He has also worked in a wide range of other media: on stage plays and musicals, on documentary and fiction film, and on a variety of radio drama productions, including a highly-praised version of Josef Skvorecky's novella, The Bass Saxophone , which won a Sony Radio Award, and an adaptation of Malcolm Lowry's novel, Under the Volcano.

 His recorded output includes 17 albums under his own name, including Winter Oranges with the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra. All his earlier LPs are now available for digital download, and two highly praised archive recordings, Workpoints and Hoarded Dreams, have recently been issued by the American label Cuneiform.

 He is equally well-known as an author and educator, having written seven books on jazz, jazz history, compositional technique and education - the latest of which, Interaction, Opening Up the Jazz Ensemble, a book and CD package was published in 1995 by Advance Music. In the early 1980s, he developed the six-year jazz degree course still running at the Sibelius Institute in Helsinki, Finland. In 1989, he launched the Royal Academy of Music's jazz course; the course's first graduates got their degrees in 1989. He remained artistic director of the course for ten years, until resigning in 1999 to concentrate on his own music. He has also taught seminars, lectures and workshops throughout Europe, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987 for his services to jazz.

 In 1989, he was among the group of international jazz educators who formed the International Association of Schools of Jazz. He was Secretary of the IASJ's Daily Board for nine years, and in 1994 his Winston Churchill Fellowship report on "Jazz Education in America" initiated the IASJ journal, Jazz Changes, which he co-edited.

  He left his full-time post as artistic director of the jazz course at the Royal Academy in 1999 to concentrate on composition. He currently lives in the mountains of Andalucia, southern Spain, where he continues to compose, travelling from there to present concerts and workshops around the world. He has recently completed 'his life's work', The Jazz Composer, moving music off the paper, a philosophical look at jazz and jazz composition, which will be published in 2009.

 He lives with John Gill, a journalist, and his partner for over 30 years.

Major compositions  include:
 Adam's Marble * - First performed on tour of Israel
 The Bass Saxophone - Music for BBC Radio Three's adaptation
 Bread & Circuses * - First performed in Perth, Western Australia, by The Collective
 Cafe Blues - Park Lane Group Commission
 Charles River Fragments * - BBC Radio 3 commission for the London Jazz Festival
 Contrapuntal Forms - Harlow Arts Festival
 Crystals of Space and Time - First performed Camden Jazz Festival
 The Day of the Dead* - Ilkley Literature Festival commission
 Forty Years On - new versions of compositions from his 40 year career.
 From 9 to Infinity - WDR for Big Band plus Mike Brecker and Dave Liebman
 Grown Men - Written for Loose Tubes
 Hoarded Dreams * - Bracknell Festival commission
 The Miro Tile * - First performed Bruckner Conservatorium, Linz
 A New Three Chord Trick - TVS for Berkshire Youth Jazz Orchestra
 One by One the Cow Goes By* - Camden Jazz Festival
 Oxford Palms * - commissioned by George Haslam's Meltdown
 Pebbles Fresh from the Brook - Radio Danmarks Jazz Group
 Plain Song and Mountain Birds - commissioned by WDR, Cologne
 Rings of Sound - Milton Keynes Festival Commission
 Shapes, Colours, Energy* - Arts Council of England commission first performed at Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada
 Six Possible Pictures
 Styll Lyfe - Penfield Commissions, New York
 Symphony of Scorpions*
 Thames Base - Radio Danmarks commission for their Big Band
 The Third Colour * - Arts Council commission for three concerts at the London Jazz Festival
 Three Simple Pieces * - First performed at a 60th birthday celebration at The Royal Academy of Music, London
 3 Solid Gs - Graz Musik Hochschule
 To the Boathouse - Vancouver International Jazz Orchestra Festival
 Under the Volcano - Music for the BBC Radio adaptation
 The Vonetta Factor - Birmingham Jazz commission
 Wheel of Dreams
 Winter Oranges * - Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra commission
 Workpoints - First ever Arts Council commission in jazz
(* indicates those compositions that have been commercially recorded)

 Deep Dark Blue Centre (1967); Down Another Road (1969); Songs For My Father (1970); Mosaics (1971); Portraits (1972); Darius (1974); Midnight Blue (1975); New Conditions (1976); Symphony Of Scorpions (1976); Day Of The Dead (1978); Something British Made in Hong Kong (1985); Charles River Fragments (1995/2003); The Third Colour (1998/2003); Winter Oranges (2002); Bread & Circuses (2002); Workpoints (2005); Hoarded Dreams (2007).
 "The Barley Mow" on Jazz in The Classroom Vol. VII; "Star-Crossed Lovers" (arrangement) on Vol. VIII (all Berklee; c.1961-3; conducted by Herb Pomeroy);
 Educational recordings for Cambridge University Press

G.C.: Inside Jazz (1973), Jazz  (1975); Cleo and John (1976), Compositional Devices; Vol. 1 (Berklee; Boston; 1975; includes scores from "Songs for My Father" and was packaged with that LP) Interaction - Opening up the Jazz Ensemble (1995).
 "The Barley Mow" and "Star-Crossed Lovers" (scores) (Berklee; c.1961-3)
 He is also co-editor of Jazz Changes; the journal of the International Association of Schools of Jazz.
 Roger Dean; New Structures in Jazz and Improvised Music since 1960 (Open University; 1992) Chapter 10  A composer-improviser dialogue with Graham Collier.
John Wickes, Innovations in British Jazz; Volume One 1960 to 1980 (Soundworld 1999) Chapter 5 and 18.

Contact information:
Graham Collier; Apartado 477; 29400 Ronda; Malaga; Spain.
+34 952 18 75 21 (telephone and fax)
website  http://www.jazzcontinuum.com

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