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Whether he’s creating orchestral arrangements for Herbie Hancock, accompanying Leny Andrade, or playing piano in a jazz club with the Portinho Trio, diversity is the serendipitous theme of the music and life of New York-based musician Klaus Mueller. 

Born in Germany and raised in Japan, Chile, and Brazil, this renowned pianist, composer, arranger, and educator began playing piano at age three. His eclectic background gave this classically trained musician the gift of open-mindedness; a natural ease with styles ranging from modern to Brazilian jazz, contemporary to avant-garde.

“Because of my multicultural upbringing I was fortunate to constantly be exposed to various musical languages.” says Mueller.

As his globetrotting parents moved the family from Japan to Chile and Brazil, their prodigious son seriously studied music everywhere they lived, being exposed to jazz, pop and world beats.

Back in Germany for school, Mueller was admitted to the prestigious State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart where he studied piano under Paul Schwarz. Commuting to Rio de Janeiro to visit his parents, he was strongly influenced by Samba and Bossa Nova music and shortly thereafter shared the stage with musicians including Tania Maria, Edmundo Carneiro etc. In 1997, Mueller’s debut CD, an album of jazz duets released by respected Cologne label JazzHausMusik, was critically acclaimed and made him a demanded performer on the European circuit.

Next stop: New York, a city as chaotic and diverse as Mueller himself! It was 1998 and Manhattan’s eclectic music scene inspired this quirky world citizen, who became a regular fixture of smoky clubs like the Blue Note, Birdland, Zinc Bar, and St. Nicks Jazz Club.

“New York was the place to be at this point of my career,” Mueller reminisces. “the best musicians of the world meet in this city! You have to play it out in the clubs.”

A match made in music heaven. By day, he toiled away on full scholarship (DAAD) at New School University, graduating in 2000. He trained under the greats: Richie Beirach, Junior Mance, Billy Harper, Buster Williams, Robert Sadin.

In 2003, the orchestral arrangements Mueller produced (in collaboration with Robert Sadin) for jazz legend Herbie Hancock for the “Gershwin’s World” tour were performed by the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and many other orchestras across the world.

“He’s one of my biggest idols of all time,” Mueller says of the Hancock collaboration. “To be able to write something for him was an extraordinary experience ... I had my keyboard out in the hotel room and we had a whole production going on!”

These days, Mueller is often recognized as the pianist of the Portinho Trio, the world beat band formed by the Brazilian master drummer of the same name. Mueller also co-arranged the music on the band’s CD, “Vinho do Porto,” forthcoming on Pittsburgh label Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. Mueller also collaborates with the Nilson Matta Brazilian Voyage Trio, teaches music, and is planning to release a CD of his own.

Klaus Mueller has also worked with:
Herbie Hancock, Robert Sadin, Kenny Garrett and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Tania Maria, Deutsche Grammophon, New York Voices, Leny Andrade, Marcos Valle, Portinho, Toninho Horta, Emilio Santiago, Claudio Roditi, Duduka da Fonseca, Maucha Adnet, Nilson Matta Brazilian Voyage, Joan Osborne, St. Germain, Harry Allen, Anne Drummond, Dave Eggar, Gino Sitson, David Darlington, "The Tango Project" composer Michael Sahl, Edmundo Carneiro, Kamafra, Florian Poser, Ekkehard Roessle, and many more.

Awards & Scholarships:

  • 1989 Finalist "Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition", Chile
  • 1991 First prize composition contest of Televisión Nacional de Chile
  • 1997 Scholarship / music award of the "Art Foundation of Baden-Württemberg", Germany