Tommy Muellner is an internationally acclaimed Chicago based jazz pianist and composer. He has received kudos from aficionados and statesmen throughout the jazz world for his piano acumen and creativity. He has an uncanny understanding of harmonic movement, improvisation and musical interplay. Neil Tesser, the nationally recognized jazz critic and writer for Playboy magazine and other prestigious publications, sites Tommy as a “pianist and tunesmith of stellar magnitude.” After performing at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Mike Drew of the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal said, “Like the late keyboard master Bill Evans, Tom finds classic gems, and creates sophisticated lyric variations.” And this from Hammond organ master Joey DeFrancesco, “Tommy swings, grooves, is soulful, and in total command of his instrument, plus I love him, he’s one of my favorites!”

As a band leader, Tommy has performed for large concert venues as well as many prestigious jazz clubs all over. Chicago is Tom’s home base where he performs at many prestigious clubs and hotels such as the Jazz Showcase, The Green Mill, Andy’s, the London House, the Ritz Carlton and the Drake Hotel to name a few. Tom plays everything from solo piano to big bands, but his preference has always been trio. “It’s a wonderful format for self-expression” he asserts. He also enjoys accompanying many great singers.

Tommy comes from a home enriched with good music. Tom’s father and brother were also professional musicians. Tom started playing gigs when he was quite young. Although he has played drums, guitar, bass and organ, Tom’s natural preference was always the piano. He grew up hearing many great jazz recordings, but related to the unique jazz piano artistry of Erroll Garner and his “swinging happy piano”. Tom is forever indebted to Erroll for inspiring him at an early age.

Tom came to an important milestone in his early twenties by discovering the genius of the late jazz piano master Bill Evans. “I think I was drawn to Bill by osmosis,” Tommy reflects, surmising that Evans has forever changed the way jazz piano is played. That important discovery led him to deeper possibilities in music. “When I truly "heard" the music, I realized that jazz was more than music. It’s great art, and a philosophy with spiritual ramifications,” he says.

In addition, Tommy hails Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane as monumental influences. His favorite pianists include Art Tatum, Hank Jones, Bud Powell, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Wynton Kelly, McCoy Tyner, Monty Alexander, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Steve Kuhn, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, and his close friend John Campbell. Tom also loves the brilliant playing of his dear friend, organ master Joey DeFrancesco.

Tommy’s nationally distributed CD “It’s (All) About Time”, was recorded with bassist David Marr and drummer Tim Davis. Tommy’s good friend Art Davis also plays flugelhorn and trumpet on four tracks. This CD includes reworked standards and original compositions. As a sideman Tom has been part of numerous recordings over the years. Tom was pianist and arranger on a recording for the acclaimed vocalist Arlene Bardelle with a top notch Chicago all-star band.

In addition, Tom is pianist & musical director on recordings for another terrific vocalist Sonny G. The first recording also features jazz organ great Joey DeFrancesco and top Chicago musicians. Also, Tom is on the 2009 recording “Don’t go to strangers” from the wonderful vocalist Colleen McNabb, along with Joey DeFrancesco, Steve Gadd, Buddy Montgomery, Joe Chambers, Byron Landham and other fine musicians. Tom is also pianist & musical director on the fabulous vocalist Arlene Bardelle's recording "Will you still love me tomorrow."

As a sideman, Tommy has performed with many “world class” jazz stars such as Joey DeFrancesco, Ira Sullivan, Eddie Daniels, Marvin Stamm, Bobby Ojeda, John Fedchock, Eric Schneider, Mark Colby, Richie Cole, Von Freeman, Ron Dewar, Redd Holt (of Ramsey Lewis fame), Don Osborne (of Mel Torme’ fame) and the late Barrett Deems (of Louis Armstrong fame), to name just a few. Tom also enjoys accompanying great vocalists. He performs with many great vocalists such as Spider Saloff, Arlene Bardelle, Kimberly Gordon, Hinda Hoffman, and Libby York.

Tommy Muellner continues to dazzle audiences with his unique brand of swinging lyrical jazz piano. He receives rave reviews wherever he performs. Indeed, acclaim for the talent, taste and splendid style of this consummate professional is as resonant as the rich chords and silky lines with which Tommy Muellner creates his personal musical magic.

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Photo by Bill Klewitz