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  • peterjhyland

Celebrate Karl Berger

Updated: Jan 11

If you are not familiar with the name of Karl Berger, you are not alone. Sadly, I only became aware of this exceptional man by reading of his recent passing in the NYT.

Karl Hans Berger (March 30, 1935 – April 9, 2023) was a German-American jazz pianist, vibraphonist, composer, educator, and musical thinker. With Ingrid Sertso (his wife) and trumpeter Ornette Coleman, Berger co-founded the Creative Music Foundation (1971) and Creative Music Studio (1972), a premier study center for contemporary creative music during the 1970s and 1980s; it closed in 1984.

Based in Woodstock, New York, the Foundation and Studio brought together students and leading innovators in the jazz and world music communities. Unprecedented in its range and diversity, CMS has provided participants with an opportunity to interact personally with musical giants of improvisation and musical thought.

The Foundation's advisory board included John Cage, Gil Evans, Buckminster Fuller and Willem de Kooning.

Mr. Berger was a pianist and vibraphonist who performed and recorded with leading jazz musicians including Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, John McLaughlin, Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Pharoah Sanders, Dave Brubeck and Lee Konitz, among many others.

The Studio's teaching alumni includes Cherry, Braxton, DeJohnette, John Cage, Steve Lacy, George Russell, Richard Teitelbaum, Cecil Taylor and Dave Holland.

However, Berger also leaves behind an impressive discography that is well worth a listen. I've compiled a playlist of just four of his richly collaborative albums for our enjoyment.

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