Never a major trumpeter, Michael Mantler was most important as an organizer of projects and for his work behind the scenes, most notably for the WATT label. After studying at the Vienna Academy of Music and University, he emigrated to the U.S. so as to attend Berklee in 1962. Mantler, who moved to New York two years later, played trumpet for a time with Cecil Taylor and in the mid-'60s, he helped with the formation of the Jazz Composer's Guild. He co-led a big band with Carla Bley, toured Europe in 1965-1966 with the Jazz Realities group (a quintet including Bley and Steve Lacy), and formed the Jazz Composers' Orchestra Association (JCOA), a non-profit organization that performed and recorded new music. Mantler, who married Carla Bley (their daughter is keyboardist Karen Mantler), recorded with Gary Burton (A Genuine Tong Funeral) and the JCOA (most notably Communications). He was also a part of Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra. Mantler worked with Bley on her large projects, formed the New Music Distribution Service in 1972, and then the following year founded the label WATT Works with Bley. He has since recorded on an irregular basis for WATT (usually ambitious and somewhat dry works), led an occasional orchestra, and continued running the label.