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Hans Koller Dies

Austrian saxophonist and composer Hans Koller, who played with Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman and Stan Kenton, died Mon., Dec. 21 in Vienna of pneumonia. He was 82.

Born in Vienna in 1921, Koller took up the tenor saxophone at an early age and was so advanced on the instrument by the age of 14 that the Vienna Music Academy advanced him to fifth semester coursework immediately upon his enrollment.

He was drafted into service during World War II and became a prisoner of war. Not one to remain musically idle, Koller organized a band at the American POW camp with his fellow POWs.

After the war Koller returned to full-time music making and worked in Germany. He founded a cool-jazz quartet with pianist Jutta Hipp, bassist Shorty Roeder and drummer Karl Sanner that became an important influence on other German jazz bands.

In the late 1950s Koller remained in Europe despite a number of offers fro gigs and record deals in the U.S. He played with Gillespie, Lee Konitz, Zoot Sims, Kenton and Goodman when they came to Europe. In the ’60s Koller moved to Hamburg to be the musical director of the NDR Jazzworkshop, and later he worked with guitarist Attila Zoller and pianist Martial Solal.

Koller moved back to Vienna in 1970 and began playing free jazz with his Free Sound Ensemble. He also worked with big bands and small ensembles playing in a variety of styles until he withdrew from music in 1995.

Originally Published