Robert William “Bob” Degen is an American pianist and composer. He grew up in a very musical family. He was encouraged from a very early age to become a musician. On weekends, Bob Degen Sr. (a guitarist) brought young Bob to NYC to visit the famous Jazz Clubs on 52nd St. Some of the great players he heard were Lester Young, Jo Jones, Coleman Hawkins, Sarah Vaughan, John Coltrane, Art Tatum, George Shearing, Ben Webster, Errol Garner, Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” Sextet and Mary Lou Williams amongst many others. He also witnessed historic concerts such as The Bill Evans Trio with Scott Lafaro and Paul Motian on the same bill as The Thelonious Monk Quartet at the Five Spot.
At the early age of 12, Bob made his NYC debut at the famous 52nd St. Club the Hickory House. He was invited as a special guest of pianist Marian Mc Partland to perform with bassist Bill Crow and drummer Joe Morello.
In the early 60's, Bob attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston graduating in 1963. He was accepted by the legendary Madame Margaret Chaloff as a private student. He became a member of the circle of jazz players that studied with her, including Herbie Hancock, Steve Kuhn, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea.
During this time, he met and played at jam sessions with a very young Tony Williams (13 years old).
Bob travelled to Europe for the first time in 1965 and was immediately accepted by US expatriate musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Carmell Jones, Art Farmer, Charlie Mariano and Leo Wright. He returned to the US in 1966 to work in his own trio featuring Paul Motian and Mark Lewinson.
In 1972, Bob moved to Frankfurt, Germany to join Albert Mangelsdorff in the Jazz Ensemble of Hessische Rundfunk. In Germany he played for many years with saxophonist Heinz Sauer. Their Duo LP “Ellingtonia Revisited” was awarded several prizes in Europe.
Since 2008, Bob has co-led a quartet featuring bass clarinetist Michel Pilz with Markus Schieferdecker, bass, and Peter Perfido, drums. Their CD “Tilly's Eyes” on Jazz Haus Music has received critical acclaim throughout Europe.
In 2010 he recorded "Jake Remembered" for Enja with Markus Schieferdecker and Peter Perfido. Also featured on five tracks is guest soloist , Valentin Garvie on trumpet.
Bob's compositions have been published in solo, trio and quartet versions in Japan. A sample of some of the great musicians Bob has performed with include: Adelhard Roidinger, Kent Carter, Phil Woods, Alan Dawson, Attilla Zoller, Hans Koller, Zbignew Namyslowski, Gerd Dudek, Wolfgang Engstfield, Buddy Defranco, Cameron Brown, Janusz Stefanski, Gunther Lenz, Ralf Hübner, David Friedman, and many more.