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A native of New York City, moved to Boston in 1967 where he was raised and educated, and later received a bachelor's degree in Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music in 1982. For the next twelve years, Schuller was a fixture on the Boston area jazz scene performing with Herb Pomeroy, Jaki Byard, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Mick Goodrick, John Lockwood, Ran Blake, Lisa Thorson, Billy Pierce, Bruce Gertz, Mili Bermejo, John LaPorta and Hal Crook.
In 1984, he co-founded the twelve-piece ensemble Orange Then Blue recording several acclaimed albums, including the 1999 release: Hold The Elevator: Live in Europe and Other Haunts on GM Recordings. Orange Then Blue toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Middle East and Europe during the early to mid-90s.
Over the last two decades, Schuller has also released several albums as a leader including his first CD entitled Lookin Up From Down Below (GM), and two releases with the Schulldogs, Tenor Tantrums (New World) and Hellbent (Playscape). Schuller has also released recordings with Circle Wide Round'bout Now (Playscape) featuring Ingrid Jensen and Donny McCaslin, and JigSaw (482 Music) featuring an all-star cast of New York improvisors including Tony Malaby, Mark Feldman, Dave Ballou, Howard Johnson and Ed Schuller.
On May 13, 2008, Playscape Recordings released a new Circle Wide recording entitled Like Before, Somewhat After (PSR#060507), paying tribute to the music of Keith Jarrett's American Quartet. This is Schuller's second recording with his longstanding working band, which features Donny McCaslin, Brad Shepik, Tom Beckham, Dave Ambrosio and guest percussionist Jamey Haddad. Three decades after the demise of Jarrett's underappreciated ensemble, Circle Wide reinvents six of its favorite tracks from the Jarrett catalog, some of which it has been performing live in New York for years, and documents two Schuller originals inspired by the source material.
In 1995 Schuller appeared on Joe Lovano's critically acclaimed album Rush Hour (Blue Note) with compositions and arrangements by Gunther Schuller. It was voted "Album of the Year" by Down Beat magazine. In addition, Schuller has performed and/or recorded with many of today's leading musicians including Lee Konitz, Mose Allison, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nnenna Freelon, Ran Blake, Fred Hersch, Armen Donelian, Burton Greene, Tom Varner, Mark Helias, Tony Malaby, Dave Douglas, Herb Robertson, Peter Yarrow, Gebhard Ullmann and The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
Schuller has found himself on the other side of the glass producing several albums by Orange Then Blue, Luciana Souza, Ed Schuller, Heather Bennett, Jazz Composers Alliance, Ballin' The Jack, Mili Bermejo, Free Range Rat, Michael Musillami and Lisa Thorson. His compositions and arrangements have been recorded by Ran Blake, Burton Greene, Conference Call, Orange Then Blue, Ed Schuller, Carlo Morena, Mike Metheny, Ballin' The Jack, Your Neighborhood Sax Quartet, Wilder/Woodman/LaPorta Sextet, Mili Bermejo and Lisa Thorson. Major appearances with various bands have included US festivals in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Rochester, Ravinia, Sedonna, Discover, Sandpoint, and Lake George along with Canadian festivals in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Guelph, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Rimouski and Saskatoon as well as European festivals such as Berlin, Bolzano, Braga, Bergen, Northsea, Ost-West, Zagreb, Karava, Stavinger, Geneva, and many others. He has received several composition awards including a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship for Music Composition (1987), NEA Composition Grant (1995) as well as The Julius Hemphill Composition Award (2000).
Schuller presently resides in Brooklyn (since 1994) where he freelances in the New York City area performing with Matt Darriau's Ballin' The Jack, Michael Musillami Trio, Burton Greene Trio, Mili Bermejo/George Schuller Octet, Lisa Thorson & Co., Free Range Rat, Armen Donelian Trio, Morena/Fonda Trio and Conference Call in addition to leading his own groups including Schulldogs, Circle Wide, and JigSaw.