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David Berger Jazz Orchestra: Colorizing the Classics: David Berger's Tribute to Harry Warren

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Arranger/recomposer David Berger's music is likely to prompt mixed reactions for its mixing of traditional values with creative originality, somewhat akin to Ted Turner's colorizing of classic black and white films. Colorizing the Classics is a big-band follow-up to I Had the Craziest Dream (Such Sweet Thunder, 2008), an octet outing also championing the works of Harry Warren, an important but under-recognized composer of movie musicals. Digging through the Warren family archives, Berger discovered a trove of forgotten melodies, most untitled, many half-finished, and fleshed out these themes with original orchestrations and newly composed lyrics by Paul ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

David Berger Octet: I Had the Craziest Dream

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David Berger Octet I Had the Craziest Dream Such Sweet Thunder 2008

Composer / arranger / scholar / historian / educator David Berger, who uses groups of various sizes to adorn his musical framework, has chosen an octet to record I Had the Craziest Dream, subtitled The Music of Harry Warren. If you're thinking “Harry who?," think instead “Chattanooga Choo-Choo," “Lulu's Back in Town," “There Will Never Be Another You," “At Last," “I've Got a Gal in Kalmazoo," “The More I See You," “Lullaby of Broadway," “This Heart of Mine," “You're My ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Berger Octet featuring Harry Allen and Joe Temperley: I Had The Craziest Dream: The Music of Harry Warren

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David Berger's credentials are wide-ranging and impeccable: transcribing 500 Ellington recordings, leading the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, teaching at the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard. I Had the Craziest Dream is precise, hot and lively, honoring Harry Warren, a deserving 20th-century popular composer less well known than Berlin, Gershwin, or Porter. In addition to the 12 songs on this CD, Warren created “You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me," “There Will Never Be Another You" and over two dozen melodies that continue to offer fine material for jazz improvisation. Berger's flexible octet seems wholly original ...

LIVE REVIEWS

David Berger & The Sultans of Swing at Birdland

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David Berger & The Sultans of Swing at BirdlandBirdlandNew York, NYSeptember 25, 2007 David Berger and his Sultans of Swing have a regular Tuesday gig at Birdland and recently have included vocalist Champian Fulton for some tunes in the set. Berger talked a bit about the music, and made the point that this band is not trying to recreate an historic style, but rather that this is the music he and the band members love--all too clearly evidenced by the body language and playing of every member of the band.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Berger and the Sultans of Swing: The Harlem Nutcracker

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It is that time of year again, and David Berger's adaptation and extension of Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn's Harlem Nutcracker suite is one swinging way to enjoy music of this season. This release is a reissue of the original. The short story is that Berger, an expert on Ellington and a top notch transcriber, was asked to write ninety more minutes of music for a new show put together by the Donald Byrd Dance Foundation. The show toured for four seasons, from 1996-99, and was a huge hit. So here we have music by a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Berger & The Sultans of Swing: Hindustan

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Recording a band in the studio during the peak of a tour can yield a session that reflects the synergy gained from repeated nights on the road. Hindustan is just such an occasion, capturing the breadth of this large, swinging aggregation on a varied program of standards and new music written especially for these players. The original opener, “Stompin' on a Riff, starts innocently enough as pianist Isaac Ben Ayala, bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Jimmy Madison state the infectious riff. The band's authority soon becomes self-evident as the horns punch out and Brian “Fletch Pareschi solos ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Berger & the Sultans of Swing: Hindustan

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David Berger not only leads a terrific band, he also has a wicked sense of humor. Hindustan, the fourth album by his intrepid Sultans of Swing, comes complete with a cover photo of camels being led by turbaned Bedouins across blazing desert sands as the sun sinks slowly in the west. So where was it recorded? In sweltering Malmo, Sweden, of course, during a Scandinavian tour last autumn.

Berger and the Sultans are throwbacks to a heady time when thousands of big bands criss-crossed the country, braving innumerable one-night stands and swinging as if there were no tomorrow. Which is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Berger and the Sultans of Swing: Marlowe

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David Berger, an avowed admirer of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, writes, as Ellington and Strayhorn often did, music with a purpose, evocative themes that paint graphic sound pictures designed to summon a visceral response from his audience. And so it is with Berger's latest album, Marlowe, which consists of two suites--"Windows on the World," solemnizing the World Trade Center disaster of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath; and “Marlowe," consuming more than 38 of the album's nearly 62 minutes while probing the dark, mysterious and often violent world of Raymond Chandler's hard-bitten fictional private eye, Philip Marlowe.

Whatever his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Berger and the Sultans of Swing: Doin' the Do!

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A generous helping of well-cooked nouveau swing by David Berger's undeniably talented Sultans of Swing that's easy to swallow but doesn't sharpen one's craving for more of the same.Berger arranged everything except the album's bonus track, Duke Ellington / Mildred Hill's “Birthday Jam," which he transcribed. While the charts are admirable, the music itself is on the whole less than exhilarating, especially the eight vocals (on thirteen tracks), half a dozen by Aria Hendricks, the others by trombonist Wayne Goodman ("Oops, My Bad!") and a trio comprised of Goodman, saxophonist Matt Hong and trumpeter Brian Pareschi ("Exactly Like ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Berger and the Sultans of Swing: The Harlem Nutcracker

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Hearing The Harlem Nutcracker for the first time is akin to opening a Christmas present, expecting another drab necktie, and finding instead a silver-plated Swiss watch or 24-carat diamond bracelet.Composer / arranger / conductor David Berger has deftly assimilated and amplified Duke Ellington / Billy Strayhorn's luminous Nutcracker Suite, transposing Tchaikovsky's balletic themes into a contemporary framework that reharmonizes the holiday classic and places it in a thoroughly American environment. Five of the movements that comprise The Harlem Nutcracker (including the overture) are by Ellington / Strayhorn, the other nine by Berger (with lyrics to “Sing Out" by ...



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