Saturday, June 13, 2009

Berkman's Workmen

My copy of the Penguin Guide to Jazz is not the most recent edition. I was somewhat shocked to discover, when I thumbed through the Ninth Edition, that piano David Berkman's entry had disappeared. In my copy the piano man is described as "a composer of substance." This certainly seems right to me, after listening to a couple of Berkman recordings.

Communication Theory
, and Leaving Home, both prominently feature the three main saxophones, alto, tenor, and soprano. But Berkman's piano is exquisite and luminous behind them. His compositions are impressionistic: page three and four jazz in structure, but with a lot of feeling suggested by even the most abstract episodes. This is jazz worth savoring.

The first recording is the better one, I think. Sam Newsome (ss), Steve Wilson (as, ss), Chris Cheek (ts, ss), Ugonna Okegwo (b), and Brian Blade (d). Here is a sample:
David Berkman/Blutocracy (Blues for Bluto)/Communication Theory
On the second disc, Dick Oats (as) replaces Wilson. I think this one reminds me a bit of a Wayne Shorter composition, but less creepy than advertised:
David Berkman/Creepy/Leaving Home
Both discs are available at eMusic.

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