Michael Mantler counts among the great protagonists of Austrian jazz, alongside Hans Koller and Joe Zawinul, both of them have already received the Hans Koller Prize for their lifetime accomplishments.
Born in Vienna in 1943, Michael Mantler studied trumpet and musicology at the Vienna Music Academy (Wiener Musikakademie) before moving to New York City in 1962. In New York, he teamed up in 1964 with Carla Bley, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra to form the Jazz Composer's Guild, from which the Jazz Composer's Orchestra arose. With this ensemble, and with compositions such as 13 for Piano and Two Orchestras, Mantler set new standards for large-scale orchestral jazz, whereby the entire Who's Who of the creative, new American jazz scene lay at his disposal (including Pharoah Sanders, Ruswell Rudd, Clifford Thornton, and Steve Lacy). Mantler also played a significant role in Carla Bley's epochal jazz opera Escalator Over the Hill. As a trumpeter, Mantler played with Charlie Haden, Don Cherry and Gary Burton, among others. He was also a long-standing core member of the Carla Bley Big Band. Since the late ‘70s, Mantler has garnered attention for the musical settings he has made for literary texts by Edward Gorey, Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett (along with Jack Bruce).