Shelly Berg, who’s been called “the best jazz pianist you’ve never heard of,” is actually a familiar name to our audiences. He played the Palladium a few years ago and he’s well known around Florida as a jazz musician and educator.
But just in case you are wondering if you want to attend Shelly’s concert this Thursday, Jan. 10, in the Side Door, I’ve gathered some materials that should easily get you to “Yes.”
Berg, a multiple Grammy nominee, is paired with two of our favorite jazz musicians, Mark Feinman, drums and Alejandro Arenas, on bass. That same duo back Shelly the last time he was in town and were headliners for our John Lamb Birthday celebration last Sunday.
For tickets and information on this show on 1-10-19 at 7:30 p.m. you can call our box office at 727-822-3590 or follow this link for online tickets. While most of the Side Door show is General Admission, a few Reserved seats are still available.
Here is a bio and below that, a promo for Shelly’s Grammy nominated 2005 album, Blackbird, on Concord Records:
Shelly Berg is a Steinway piano artist and multi-Grammy nominated arranger and producer. His latest album Gershwin Reimagined: An American in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by José Serebrier and produced by Gregg Field (Decca Gold).
Shelly BergThe All Music Guide says “Shelly Berg is one of the finest pianists around in the early 21st century playing modern mainstream jazz.” His recording project The Deep with bassist Dave Finck on Chesky Records is widely praised for its versatility and virtuosity with 4.5 stars from DownBeat magazine. His solo project Shelly Berg: The Nearness of You (Arbors) and a two-piano album with Dick Hyman Meeting of Minds (Victoria) are also both critically acclaimed. His album Blackbird, recorded with the Shelly Berg Trio on the Concord Records label, reached #1 in US jazz radio and garnered Record of the Year and Artist of the Year nominations (Jazzweek, 2005).
Berg was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals category as co-arranger of “I Loves You Porgy / There’s a Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon for New York” from the album Rendezvous (2018) featuring jazz singers Clint Holmes and Dee Dee Bridgewater with The Count Basie Orchestra. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals category for his arrangement of “Be My Muse” on Lorraine Feather’s album Flirting with Disaster (2015), as well as his arrangement of “What a Wonderful World” on Gloria Estefan: The Standards (2014), and “Out There” on Lorraine Feather’s Tales of the Unusual (2013). He was also nominated for a Grammy as co-producer of Gloria Estefan: The Standards in the Best Traditional Pop Album category.
Other recent recording and arranging projects include Seal’s Standards, Clint Black’s Rendezvous, Arturo Sandoval’s Grammy-winning Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You) and Latin Grammy-winning A Time for Love, Reneé Fleming’s Christmas in New York with Friends, and Ray Sings, Basie Swings (Concord).
Berg is artistic advisor for Jazz Roots at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, musical director of The Jazz Cruise, and host of the show Generation Next on Real Jazz Sirius XM. He has appeared on numerous NPR radio broadcasts for Jim Cullum’s Riverwalk Jazz series.
Shelly Berg has performed, recorded and arranged for renown jazz vocalists Patti Austin, Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Carmen Bradford, Tierney Sutton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lizz Wright, Cassandra Wilson, Lorraine Feather, Monica Mancini, and Dionne Warwick, and performed and/or recorded with a “Who’s Who” of jazz legends including Ray Brown, Louie Bellson, John Clayton, Eddie Daniels, Peter Erskine, Dave Finck, Branford Marsalis, Gregg Field, Chuck Berghofer, Dave Grusin, Woody Herman, Arturo Sandoval, Tom Scott, Clark Terry, and Bill Watrous to name just a few. A finalist in the 1988 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Berg has recorded over 30 disks for the Yamaha Disklavier piano.
His composing and orchestrating for television includes ABC’s Fudge, CBS’s A League of Their Own, and HBO’s Dennis Miller Live. He has performed on television with Zac Brown, Mark Anthony, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Garth Brooks, Tricia Yearwood, Prince Royce, Patti LaBelle, Mariah Carey, and has orchestrated for Chicago, KISS, Carole King, Richard Marx, Joe Cocker, Elliott Smith, Lou Rawls, Steve Miller, Yoshiki, X Japan, and others.
Film orchestration work includes Warner Bros. Almost Heroes and For Your Consideration, Fox’s Men of Honor, and the NBC mini-series The ’60s. He has written for the Royal Philharmonic, the American Symphony, and orchestras worldwide. He composed the theme song to the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, and orchestrated Anniversary for the 10th anniversary of the coronation of Japan’s Emperor Akihito. His orchestrations are called “magnificent. . . incredible” by Johnny Mandel.
Shelly Berg is the dean of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, a position he has held since June 2007. In addition to his leadership role as dean, he is the Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music and teaches classical improvisation classes and private piano students. He previously held the McCoy/Sample endowed professorship of jazz studies in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California where he taught for 16 years. He is a past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), and was named 2003 Educator of the Year by the Los Angeles Jazz Society. In 2002, Shelly was the recipient of the IAJE Lawrence Berk Leadership Award. In 2000, the Los Angeles Times named him one of three “Educators for the Millennium.” He has appeared as a performer and lecturer throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico, Europe, Japan, and Israel.
Berg has numerous compositions for jazz ensemble in publication, and his texts include the Chop-Monster improvisation series, Essentials of Jazz Theory, and Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (Alfred Publishing), and Jazz Improvisation: The Goal-Note Method (Kendor Music).
FROM CONCORD RECORDS:
When Shelly Berg releases his first CD on a major label in 2005, the earlier descriptions of his limited recorded output-not to mention his being pigeonholed as an aggressive pianist with jaw-dropping technique-will no doubt be rewritten. Indeed, in stores on January 25, Blackbird reveals a somewhat surprising side to the former head of the International Association of Jazz Educators as he is joined by drummer Gregg Field and bassist Chuck Berghofer.
Previously, listeners may have described Berg as a swinging, extroverted musician in the exuberant, indomitable spirit of Oscar Peterson, one of his early inspirations. Blackbird, however, shows Berg to be a much more complex musician who is attuned to a broader range of emotions than his earlier recordings suggested. The CD, exquisitely performed and produced, captures Berg’s trio in a relaxed, sustained performance of songs with personal meaning to the pianist.
“With Blackbird, I just wanted to make a beautiful recording where there’s not a gratuitous note. I didn’t want to be thinking of ‘things to do’ on this record. I just wanted to explore the feelings of the songs,” says Berg who admits he’s been waiting for decades to record a few of the tracks on the new CD. He achieves his goal by considering the melodies-and the lyrics, though unsung-of each of the songs. “’All My Tomorrows’ resonates with me because it has one of the most beautiful lyrics that a love song can have. To me, a great song occurs when all of the elements come together.”
Berg personalizes the songs on Blackbird with warm voicings, effective dynamics, and a storyteller’s ability to craft an unforgettable dramatic experience from a promising simple theme. For example, the Trio stretches the rests of title track (written by Lennon and McCartney) to allow for glittering ornamentation that illuminates segments of the melody before they stretch out into upbeat straight-ahead improvisation. Those phrases are suspended as if independently overlaid on the underlying rhythm for a contemplation of their harmonic wonders.
In an approach similar to “Blackbird,” “She’s Always a Woman” consists of discrete melodic phrases connected by rests of harmonic resolution, though played with an obvious sense of joy. Berg slows Pat Matheny’s “Question and Answer” into a gorgeous jazz waltz whose harmonic possibilities for prismatic richness, the colors inextricably linked through gradual progressions, previously may have been overlooked in faster versions.
The undeniably effective underlying spirit of Blackbird reflects the camaraderie among the Trio’s members. Once again, Berg defies expectations by recording with musicians who may not necessarily be associated with this style of jazz. The bandleader notes, “I can’t say enough about Gregg and Chuck. I think their playing is going to raise some eyebrows about what these two guys can do. Their careers are going well, but I think it’s always great for them to get recognition in ways that they haven’t before.”
Born in 1955, Shelton G. Berg’s love of jazz came from his father, trumpeter Jay Berg, who performed with touring musicians like Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt. A young prodigy, he was accepted into the Cleveland Institute of Music at the age of six. He moved to Houston in his early teens and soon thereafter started playing professionally, while still in High School, with Arnett Cobb, who provided him with the opportunity to jam with Lockjaw Davis, Al Grey and other members of Count Basie’s Orchestra, as well as with players from Woody Herman and Buddy Rich’s bands. Graduating summa cum laude twice from the University of Houston with bachelor and masters degrees in music, he worked for 12 years as the director of instrumental music at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas. However, at the recommendation of Bill Watrous, Berg moved to Los Angeles, where he became a professor and the Chair of Jazz Studies in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. From 1996 to 1998, he was the president of the IAJE.
Musically, Berg has written commercial jingles for a host of Fortune 1000 companies, including Wendy’s, Dole, Texaco and Kelloggs. He has scored for films and television shows like Men of Honor, Almost Heroes, Fudge and Dennis Miller Live. And, he has written for such performers as Kurt Elling, Bonnie Raitt, KISS, Lou Rawls and Richard Marx, as well as the American Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic and the Dallas Philharmonic. In addition to publishing eight books about jazz theory and improvisation, as well as numerous music magazine articles, Berg has received numerous awards, including the IAJE Lawrence Berk Leadership Award, one of three Los Angeles Times’ “Educators for the Millennium,” and the Los Angeles Jazz Society “Educator of the Year.” Berg has accompanied and recorded with numerous performers, including Watrous, Tierney Sutton, Peter Erskine, Patti Austin, Clark Terry, Monica Mancini, John Clayton, Lorraine Feather, Frank Potenza and Carmen Bradford.
Berg says, “Someone wrote a beautiful thing about six years ago: that I was ‘the best jazz pianist you never heard of.’ I think the release of Blackbird will give my rise from ‘obscurity’ a giant step. Now I’m at a time in my life where playing means the most it ever has to me. I want to play as much as I can. Hopefully, Blackbird will become a vehicle for doing that.” To support the release of the CD, the Shelly Berg Trio will initially tour in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Berg says, “I would like to play in clubs as well as other venues because Blackbird is kind of an intimate record.”
But his goals for Blackbird go beyond increased recognition. “I think that one of the greatest things about music is that it can have a very healing effect on human beings. I just hope this music makes people glad they listened to it and that it makes them feel good.”