Pianist Shelly Berg's career as a professional musician stretches back for 40 years. He began playing professionally in his early teens and has since been a solo performer, a bandleader, arranger and accompanist. In 2007 he became Dean of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, University of Miami. Despite this long and varied career, The Nearness Of You is his first solo CD. Berg takes on production duties in addition to performing and arranging, to create a fine set of interpretations of familiar tunes. One of the few things Berg isn't directly responsible for is the writing of ...read more
This title refers to the radical changes that are about to occur in music education, now that Shelton G. (Shelly) Berg has become dean of Miami University's school of music.Although Berg is widely considered one of the most eloquent, swinging, and accomplished pianists in jazz, to date he's more famous as an educator. Berg was President of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) from 1996-98; he spent eight years chairing the department of jazz studies at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, during which he raised its profile to one of the top programs ...read more
In the liner notes to this piano-guitar duo album, Shelly Berg notes that there often exists a love/hate relationship between the guitarist and pianist in a jazz band, with each jockeying for supremacy in creating chords and accompaniment." Upon reflection, I would have to say that this may be a reality on some occasions, but when two like-minded musicians pull off an album like this one, the results can be quite the opposite. Considering the collaborative efforts of Bill Evans and Jim Hall circa 1960, or Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass in the 1970s, the pairing of pianist Shelly Berg ...read more
It's evident from the first track that Blackbird is a superior trio release, as classy and swinging as they ever get. Seasoned with brilliance and sprinkled with wit, this recording is artfully paced and nicely balanced between ballads and burners--all of which is immediately obvious. What emerges only later, after reaching for the CD again and again, is that this music is truly universal: all-encompassing and satisfying, it works in all kinds of moods, and for all kinds of occasions.
For instance, while Blackbird is ideal for relaxing, it also supplies the perfect sonic motivation for bouncing around the house, ...read more
Shelly Berg Trio Catalina Bar & Grill Hollywood, California January 20, 2005
Celebrating the release of Blackbird , his new CD on the Concord label, Shelly Berg brought his trio to Catalina's on a Thursday night for an intimate evening among friends and fans. With bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Gregg Field, the pianist interpreted familiar standards, contemporary pieces, and fresh originals. The session offered a balanced mixture of up-tempo romps and slower, romantic ballads.
Following the CD's program closely, Berg's cohesive trio offered a variety of reflections. The animated pianist poured it ...read more
This program of sensual ballads gives the Shelly Berg Trio plenty of room to express deep feelings about the music and about how jazz has given each member a long and fruitful career doing what he loves. Each solos frequently and passionately, but with subdued emphasis. A ballad caress needn't be amplified or swung hard. The meaning becomes clearer when an audience is given the chance to absorb it gradually. Here, the pianist, bassist, and drummer set these wheels in motion naturally. Romance and lyrical passion occupy the front seats by default.
Berg pounds out I Hear a ...read more
One of the highlights of my last trip to New York (in June 2003) was the evening my wife Nancy and I spent enjoying a set by singer/lyricist Lorraine Feather at Danny’s Skylight Room. She has a terrific voice and also a way of keeping a crowd’s attention with her spoken introductions explaining the background of her lyrics prior to singing each song (the printed lyrics she distributes in advance are also a nice touch). Her delivery of each song proves her talent as an actress. So when I learned she was performing there once more during two nights of ...read more
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