Jazz Pianist Moves Into The Spotlight

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Jazz piano player Jacob Koller is returning to Payson for a performance Sunday, Aug. 13.

In the past, Koller has played as more of a backup pianist, now he will be the headliner.

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Pianist Jacob Koller will perform Aug. 18 with Justin Brotman on upright bass and Gerry Reynolds on drums.

"When I found out how good he was, I wanted to bring him up front," said part-time local resident and drummer, Gerry Reynolds.

At the age of 4, Jacob began studying classical piano. At 5, he gave his first piano recital. By the time he entered high school, he had won over 10 classical piano competitions.

A passion for jazz found him in high school and he began working professionally at age 14, playing with the finest jazz musicians in the Valley including Dennis Roland, Jesse McGuire, Margo Reed, Dwight Kilian and Fred Forney.

Koller graduated Arizona State University on a full jazz scholarship.

"Jacob is marvelous, maybe the best piano player I have ever played with," Reynolds said. "Jazz is very improvisational and he has a fabulous musical sense of where the song is going."

Which turns out to be helpful at times like this past weekend when the two played together at Ahwatukee's Jazz in Az concert. They did not practice first.

"But it was a nice practice during the performance," Reynolds said.

In this instance, that lack of practice keeps the music fresh. Jazz musicians might play the same song differently each time they get together, experimenting with new chords and arrangements.

Koller is working on a CD with Corey Fogel. "Free Toy Insides" will feature Koller on piano and synthesizers, Fogel on drums, glockenspiel, keyboards and many various objects. Other Koller projects include music made with The New Old Quartet, The Steve Jones Collective, Brainkiller and the Jon Tulchin duo.

Downloads of some of Koller's music are on his Web site at www.jacobkoller.com.

Joining Koller to form a trio for Payson's Jazz in Az concert will be Justin Brotman on upright bass, and Reynolds on drums.

Brotman is a gifted professional as well, having graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Drummer Reynolds works regularly with many of Arizona's finest jazz musicians, and leads a weekly jam session at the Pita Jungle restaurant in Chandler.

The Payson Friends of Jazz are co-sponsoring August's event with the church. The performance is open to all area residents. While there is no charge, a donation given at the door will be appreciated to help fund this self-supporting event.

Koller's performance will be at 2 p.m. Sunday. Aug. 13, at the Community Presbyterian Church, 800 West Main St. RSVP to (480) 785-1278 or e-mail gerryr@cox.net.

Payson Jazz in Az

Pianist Jacob Koller

When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13

Where: Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St.

Cost: Free admission. Donations welcome.

Call: RSVP to (480) 785-1278 or e-mail gerryr@cox.net.

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