Graham Collier
Directing 14 Jackson Pollocks
‘A player with an amazing ability to absorb a lot of the modern and progressive influences of his jazz generation - but all without succumbing to the same indulgences as them. A fact which resulted in a razor-sharp style that forged some of the freshest jazz ever to come out of the UK.’
‘Far more radical than most of his generation’


The phrase ‘directing 14 Jackson Pollocks’ was used by an artist friend of a friend to describe my approach.
‘He appeared to stroll casually around the stage, giving directions to these fantastic musicians by hand signals.... Quite how much he was controlling everything I’m not sure, but individuals went into apparent freefall only to be “rounded in” to the whole phenomena... It was a complete texture of sound - massive sound... How the hell does he write this? Or how much does he write and how much is improvisation?’

The quotes above serve as a reminder that although his generation included such composers as the three Mikes, Westbrook, Garrick and Gibbs, as well as Chris McGregor and John Surman, Graham Collier’s radicalism and achievements were, and are, often overlooked.

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Short biography and pictures

Graham Collier
‘Far more radical than most of his generation’
Graham Collier's career spanned four decades of innovation at the forefront of British jazz. Some of his music has been compared to that of Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Gil Evans and more than one critic has commented on his radicalism in comparison to many of his contemporaries.
He was born in Tynemouth, England, in 1937 and on leaving school he joined the British Army as a musician. He was the first British graduate of the Berklee School of Jazz, Boston, where he studied with Herb Pomeroy. He was the first jazz composer to receive a commission from the Arts Council of Great Britain, and in 1987 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
His ensembles were known as Graham Collier Music and are dedicated to performing his own compositions. He also recorded with the Australian contemporary music group The Collective, the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra and the NDR Big Band, and for ensembles ranging from saxophone quartet to symphony orchestra. He has released 19 albums and CDs.
He was equally well-known as an author and educator, having written seven books on jazz, jazz history, compositional techniques and education. In the early 1980s he developed the six-year jazz degree course at the Sibelius Institute in Helsinki, Finland, and in 1986 he launched the Royal Academy of Music’s jazz course where he remained as artistic director until 1999. He has travelled extensively to present seminars, lectures, workshops and concerts throughout Europe, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. In 1989, he was among the group of international jazz educators who formed the International Association of Schools of Jazz and he was Secretary of the Daily Board for nine years, and co-editor of its magazine
Jazz Changes.
In late 1999 he left England, and after eight years living in southern Spain, moved with his long-time partner, John Gill, to a small Aegean island, Skopelos, where he continued to compose, travelling from there to present concerts and workshops around the world, until his death of heart failure on 9 September 2011 while on holiday in Crete.
Website: http://www.grahamcolliermusic.com

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Photographs
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pict0176 Duncan Heining

Dutch band Karlijne Pietersma


Purcell Wave Enid Irving