Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Muellner, Tommy (Thomas Michael)

Muellner, Tommy (Thomas Michael), piano; b. Chicago, IL, 25 January 1953. His father is John F. (Frank) Muellner, born 1923 in Chicago. In his heyday, he played accordion in a dance band all around town. On occasion he still plays organ for Senior Citizen functions. He also plays on his Hammond at home. His mother is Irene V. (Veronica) Muellner, born 1926 in Chicago. His older brother is John L. (Lawrence) Muellner, born 1948 in Chicago. He lives in Oregon and is an actor, and plays drums in traditional jazz bands. His older sister is Marilyn Tobin (nee Muellner) born 1949 in Chicago. His younger sister is Donna J. (Jean) Barnes (nee Muellner born 1960 in Chicago. His teachers indirectly are Bill Evans (who he spent part of an afternoon with once, and profoundly inspired him), Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, et al. He learned mostly from the great classic jazz recordings. He also learned a great deal from playing with master musicians like Ira Sullivan, as well as other lesser known musicians he worked with at a younger age. His wife is Sandy Muellner (nee Kolosowski). His oldest son is Ian T. (Tyner) Muellner born 1975 in Chicago. His second son is Evan T. (Thomas) Muellner born 1983 in Chicago. His daughter is Lauren Hallie Muellner born 1986 in Chicago. All 3 children were born at home.

Muellner is a highly respected Chicagoland jazz pianist and composer. He also teaches jazz theory and harmony privately on a limited basis. Tom is a natural born musician with a unique style and an uncanny understanding of harmonic movement, improvisation and musical interplay. He freelances with many top musicians and often plays piano for private occasions. Tom also headlines regularly at many prestigious jazz clubs. Neil Tesser, the nationally recognized jazz critic and writer, sites that Tommy is a "pianist and tunesmith of stellar magnitude." Tom has received many plaudits and kudos from aficionados and statesmen throughout the jazz world.
Raised in Chicago, Tom comes from a home enriched with good music. With a variety of musical instruments to choose from, Tom started playing some gigs at an early age. Although he has played drums, guitar, bass and organ, Tom's natural preference was always the piano. Tom grew up hearing many great jazz records, but the whole family especially loved the unique jazz piano artistry of Erroll Garner. Tom is forever indebted to Erroll for giving him the capacity to love the piano, and has focused on the jazz idiom for over three decades now. In his early twenties, Tom discovered Bill Evans "by osmosis," who in his evaluation has forever changed the way jazz piano is played. After that important discovery, he got deeper into the possibilities of jazz piano. "I realized when I finally heard the music, that jazz is more than music. It is great art, and a philosophy with spiritual ramifications," says Tom. In addition to Bill Evans, Tommy hails Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane as monumental influences. His favorite pianists include Art Tatum, Hank Jones, Bud Powell, Barry Harris, McCoy Tyner, Monty Alexander, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Steve Kuhn, Denny Zeitlin, Fred Hersch and his close friend John Campbell. Tom has worked with many "world class" jazz stars such as Ira Sullivan, Eddie Daniels, Marvin Stamm, Bobby Ojeda, John Fedchock, Warren Kime, Mark Colby, Richie Cole, Von Freeman, Ron Dewar, Mike Smith, Redd Holt, Donny Osborne and the late Barrett Deems of Louis Armstrong fame, to name just a few. Tom also works with many fine vocalists such as Hinda Hoffman and Spider Saloff.   

Tom also spent 18 years as advertising director at an electronics company. In 1993 he gave up his day gig and became a full time musician, and has never looked back.

It's All About Time (1998)

Television broadcasts:
He did a video taping as a leader for a local cable show "Uncle Izzy's Jazz Jamboree". As a sideman I've done other local cable shows as well.

Theater work:
He wrote the music for a live play drama around 1980, and performed it live at Northeastern Illinois University. The play was about rape. It was called "Victims".

Unissued recordings:
He has many private home tapes of live concerts and informal sessions.


Contact information:
Tom M. Muellner
2212 N. Neva Ave.
Chicago, IL 60707

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