Herb Geller was a veteran of the Los Angeles jazz scene of the 1950s who played better than ever by the turn of the millennium.
Geller played in 1946 with Joe Venuti's Orchestra, and in 1949 he traveled to New York to play with Claude Thornhill. In 1951 he moved back to L.A. and married the excellent bop pianist Lorraine Walsh. Geller was a fixture in L.A., playing with Billy May (1952), Maynard Ferguson, Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman, and Chet Baker, among others; jamming with Clifford Brown and Max Roach (1954); and leading a quartet that included his wife (1954-1955). Lorraine Geller's sudden death in 1958 eventually resulted in the altoist deciding to leave the country to escape his grief. He played with Benny Goodman off and on between 1958-1961, spent time in Brazil, and in 1962 moved to Berlin. Geller worked in German radio orchestras for 30 years, played in European big bands, and continued to grow as a musician, although he was pretty much forgotten in the U.S. From the early '90s into the 2000s, Herb Geller returned to the States on a more regular basis, and he recorded tributes to Al Cohn and Arthur Schwartz for Hep. Geller also recorded as a leader in the 1950s for EmArcy, Jubilee, and Atco, and in his later years for Enja, Fresh Sound, and VSOP. Herb Geller died in Hamburg, Germany on December 19, 2013; he was 85 years old. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi