Karl Berger

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This article is about the musician and composer. For the Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper), see Karl Berger (Fallschirmjäger).

Karl Hans Berger (born March 30, 1935 in Heidelberg, Germany) is a PhD in Music Esthetics, jazz composer, jazz vibraphone and piano player.[1]


Together with Ornette Coleman and Ingrid Sertso he founded the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York. During the 1990s, he taught jazz music and ensemble playing as a professor in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2004-2005, he served as the Chairman of the Music Department of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Most of his output has been rather experimental. He has been active in Free Jazz circles, recording with Carla Bley, Don Cherry, Clifford Thornton, Lee Konitz, John McLaughlin, Hōzan Yamamoto, Dave Holland, Gunther Schuller, the Mingus Epitaph Orchestra, Sam Rivers, Pharoah Sanders, Globe Unity Orchestra and many others. Berger continuously won the Down Beat critics poll in the category of the best jazz vibraphone player of the year between 1969 and 1975. He is improvising in an abstract, but vivid manner. He was one of the first to investigate and incorporate world music and devised a unique system for understanding and playing in any meter, from standard time signatures to more exotic odd meters and polyrhythms. His book on this topic was published as Dr. B.'s Rhythmic Training.

In 1981 he performed at the Woodstock Jazz Festival, held in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Creative Music Studio. In 1993, he recorded string arrangements for Jeff Buckley's album, Grace. He collaborated with Bill Laswell as musical arranger and conductor, thus contributing to recordings of Jeff Buckley, Natalie Merchant (Ophelia), Better Than Ezra, Sly & Robbie, Angélique Kidjo, Buckethead and Shin Terai.

Berger directs the Creative Music Studio Archive Project, in collaboration with Columbia University, New York, where over 400 recordings with leading improvising artists of the 70's and 80's are transferred to digital domains and an oral history component preserves essential information from the heyday of the Creative Music Studio.


As leader[edit]

  • 1966: Karl Berger Quartet (ESP-Disk)
  • 1968: Tune In, KB Quartet, with Carlos Ward, Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell (Milestone)
  • 1971: We Are You, with Allen Blairman
  • 1972: With Silence, with Masahito Sato (Enja)
  • 1974: Peace Church Concerts, with Dave Holland, Ingrid Sertso (CMC)
  • 1976: All Kind of Time, with Dave Holland (Sackville)
  • 1977: Changing the Time, with Ingrid Sertso (Horo)
  • 1979: Seasons Change (Circle) with Lee Konitz
  • 1979: New Moon (Palcoscenico)
  • 1979: Woodstock Workshop Orchestra, with Don Cherry, Oliver Lake, Lee Konitz, Ingrid Sertso a.o (MPS)
  • 1982: Conversations, with R. Anderson, C. Ward, D. Holland, B. Ulmer a.o. (In+Out)
  • 1985: Again+Again, with Hozan Yamamoto (JVC)
  • 1986: Transit, with Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell (Black Saint)
  • 1990: Crystal Fire, with Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell (Enja)
  • 1991: Around, with Santi Debriano, Leroy Williams, Paul Shigihara (Black Saint)
  • 1991: Berger/Shigihara, with Paul Shigihara (Bellaphon)
  • 1991: Moondance Suite, with Ingrid Sertso, Sudpool Ensemble Stuttgart (Bellaphon)
  • 1996: No Man Is an Island, with Jean-Louis Matinier, Ernst Reijseger, Enrico Rava a.o (Knitting Factory)
  • 2001: Stillpoint, with Ingrid Sertso, John Lindberg, Peter Apfelbaum, Tani Tabbal a.o. (Double Moon)
  • 2004: On+On, with Ingrid Sertso (ACR)
  • 2006: Duets 1, with John Lindberg (Between the Lines)
  • 2010: Strangely Familiar, (Tzadik)
  • 2014: Gently Unfamiliar, with Joe Fonda, Harvey Sorgen (Tzadik)

As sideman[edit]

With Carla Bley

With Anthony Braxton

With Don Cherry

With Conjoint

  • Earprint (Source)

With Theo Jörgensmann

With Lee Konitz

  • Duets (Milestone)

With Bill Laswell

With Kesang Marstrand

  • Bodega Rose

With John McLaughlin

  • When Fortune Smiles (Pye)

With Charles Mingus

With Pete Namlook

With Ingrid Sertso

  • Dance with It (Enja)
  • What Do I Know (Konnex)

With Clifford Thornton

As producer[edit]


External links[edit]