Shelly Berg

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Shelton "Shelly" Glen Berg (born August 18, 1955) is an American pianist, composer, arranger, orchestrator, and producer. He is the Dean and Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Shelly Berg was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of business entrepreneur and jazz trumpet player Jay Berg[2] and writer Lorraine Merle Joseph Berg.[3] At the age of six he entered the Cleveland Institute of Music[4] studying classical piano with Maxine Priest.[3] At age 9 he composed his first work, for children's choir and orchestra, for the opening of a new synagogue. His father took him to sit in at jazz jam sessions beginning at age 12,[5] and he was introduced to gospel piano by organist Ricky C. Watkins, son of Pentecostal Church Bishop Charles Watkins who recorded for the Savoy, Praise, and LaCross labels.[6] In junior high he was the piano accompanist and played in orchestras for Heights Youth Theater, as well as summer stock musicals. He was also accompanist for the vocal group Happiness Unlimited.

At age 15 Shelly Berg moved with his family to Houston, Texas[5] where he continued his classical piano studies with Lucien Lemieux.[7] He performed at jam sessions with jazz saxophonist Arnette Cobb,[8] and gigs with blues legend Gatemouth Brown. He was the student conductor for choirs at Clear Creek High School, and played French horn and trumpet in the band.

He earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance (1977, summa cum laude) and a Master of Music in Piano Performance (Composition, Conducting, 1979, summa cum laude) from the University of Houston School of Music where he studied piano with Albert Hirsh and Abbey Simon[7] and was the student conductor for choir and orchestra. During his freshman year he subbed for a week with the Woody Herman Band, and performed throughout his college career with a variety of touring professional artists. He also served as a lecturer at the University of Houston, 1979–1981, and a teaching assistant in music theory, 1977–1979.

Berg began his career at San Jacinto College North in Northshore, Texas, as Chair of Instrumental Music, 1979–1981. He then served as Chair of Instrumental Music and Commercial Music at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas from 1981–1991.[9] He performed extensively in professional groups including Larry and Marilyn and the Brass Connection, featuring trumpeter Larry Martinez and singer Marilyn Savage.[5] He learned to play Latin montunos from Kido Zapata during this time. He composed and arranged music for regional and national advertising campaigns,[9] and maintained an active performing and recording career with artists ranging from Country music singer Mickey Gilley to jazz trombonist Bill Watrous.[10]


Berg moved to Los Angeles, California in 1991 to join the music faculty at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.[11] He was the McCoy/Sample Endowed Professor of Jazz 2004-2007;[12] Chair of Jazz Studies, 1994-2004; Professor, 1998-2007; Associate Professor, 1995-1998; and Assistant Professor, 1991–1995. He served as president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), 1996-1998;[13] was named one of three "Educators for the Millennium" by The Los Angeles Times, 1999;[5] and received the Dean's Award for Scholarship and Research, USC Thornton School of Music, 2005.

He authored Jazz Improvisation: The Goal-Note Method (Kendor), the Chop-Monster jazz improvisation series (Alfred), Essentials of Jazz Theory series (Alfred), and co-authored Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (Alfred) plus numerous arrangements for jazz big band published by Kendor, and Walrus.

Berg also worked with Hollywood studio arranger-orchestrator Dick Marx and Tom Halm at Sunset Sound Recording Studios. He was a composer and arranger for the CBS television series A League of Their Own (1993), the weekly ABC television series Fudge (1995-1997), and was orchestrator for the motion picture Almost Heroes. He recorded critically acclaimed albums with the Shelly Berg Trio including The Joy (DMP, 1995), The Will: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson (CARS, 1998), and Blackbird (Concord Records, 2005). In 2006, he arranged most of the songs on the album entitled Ray Sings, Basie Swings (Concord, 2006) and was music director and pianist on the Great Performances television show We Love Ella! A Tribute to the First Lady of Song (PBS, 2007).[14]


Shelly Berg is Dean of the Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, appointed in 2007.[15] In addition, he is a master teacher for the Frost Experiential Music Curriculum.[16]

While in Miami, he earned his first Grammy nomination in the category "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)" for his arrangement of "Out There" on Lorraine Feather's album Tales of the Unusual (Jazzed Media). He was nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award in the category Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) category for his arrangement of "What a Wonderful World" on Gloria Estefan: The Standards.[17] He was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement Instrumental and Vocals category for his arrangement of "Be My Muse" on the Lorraine Feather album Flirting with Disaster (Jazzed Media),[17] and nominated again in 2017 for his medley arrangement of "There's a Boat that's Leaving Soon for New York / I Loves You Porgy" recorded on the Clint Holmes album Rendezvous (Concord).[17]

Berg is a Steinway artist,[18] ASCAP composer,[19] music director of The Jazz Cruise and artistic advisor to Larry Rosen's JazzRoots Series at the Adrienne Arsht Center of Miami-Dade County. He is also the host of the monthly Generation Next Sirius XM radio show.


As leader / co-leader

Year Label Title Notes Award
2018 Decca Gold Gershwin Reimagined: An American in London Shelly Berg (piano) & Shelly Berg Trio, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Jose Serebrier, conductor, Gregg Field, producer. Also featuring Arturo Sandoval (trumpet), Mark O'Connor (violin), Ledesi (vocals), Monica Mancini (vocals), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Gregg Field (drums) Billboard Classical Crossover Top 15, Classical Top 20, Sep. 2018[20]
2017 Chesky The Deep Duo, Shelly Berg (piano) with Dave Finck (bass) 4.5 stars Downbeat, Nov. 2017
2012 Summit All Things Are New Beaux J Poo Boo: Quartet, Shelly Berg (piano) with Fred Hamilton (guitar), Lou Fischer (bass), Steve Houghton (drums)
2009 Arbors The Nearness of You Solo piano, Shelly Berg (piano)
2009 Victoria Meeting of Minds Piano Duo, Shelly Berg (piano) with Dick Hyman (piano)
2005 Concord Blackbird Trio, as Shelly Berg Trio, Shelly Berg (piano) with Chuck Berghofer (bass), Gregg Field (drums) #1 JazzWeek U.S. Jazz Radio, Feb. 09, 2005
2005 Azika First Takes Duo, Shelly Berg (piano) with Frank Potenza (guitar)
2004 Azika Home with You Duo, Shelly Berg (piano) with Carmen Bradford (vocals)
2003 Viewpoint Pieces of String Trio, Shelly Berg (piano) with John Fremgen (bass) and Peter Erskine (drums)
1998 CARS The Will: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson Trio, Shelly Berg (piano) with Ray Brown (bass) and Ed Thigpen (drums) #6 JazzWeek U.S. Jazz Radio
1995 DMP The Joy Trio, as Shelly Berg Trio, Shelly Berg (piano) with Lou Fischer (bass), Steve Houghton (drums), Randy Drake (drums)

As arranger / orchestrator / side musician

Year Label Title Notes Award
2020 Concord Ella 100, Live at the Apollo! feat. Patti Austin, David Alan Grier, Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, Ledisi, Monica Mancini, Afro Blue, The Count Basie Orchestra, The Ella 100 All-Star Quartet piano; arranger ("The Nearness of You")
2020 Vivify Brian Nova Collective: The Upside of Lonely piano (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 11)
2019 Concord Keb' Mo': Moonlight, Mistletoe & You piano ("One More Year With You")[21]
2018 Pony Canyon Yoshiki feat. Hyde: "Red Swan" orchestrator
2018 Jazzed Media Lorraine Feather: Math Camp composer, arranger, piano
2018 Universal Music Latino[22] Arturo Sandoval: Ultimate Duets arranger, elec. piano ("After All")
2017 Universal, Republic Seal: Standards piano (tracks 2, 7, 9, 11)
2017 Concord Clint Holmes: Rendezvous arranger, orchestrator, piano Grammy Nomination: "There's a Boat that's Leaving Soon for New York / I Loves You Porgy" (Shelly Berg, Gordon Goodwin, Gregg Field, Clint Holmes, arrangers)[17]
2017 Chesky Livingston Taylor: Safe Home Quartet, Shelly Berg (piano) with Livingston Taylor (vocals, guitar), Dave Finck (bass), Bashiri Johnson (percussion), also featuring Chelsea Berry (vocals)
2016 Jazzed Media Lorraine Feather: Flirting with Disaster composer, arranger, piano Grammy Nomination "Be My Muse" (Shelly Berg, arranger)[17]
2014 Jazzed Media Lorraine Feather: Attachments composer, arranger, piano Grammy-nominated album
2014 OhKeh / Sony Jazz and the Philharmonic Shelly Berg (piano, arranger, co-conductor) with Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Eric Owens, Denyce Graves, Terence Blanchard, Elizabeth Joy Roe, Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra
2014 Sony Classics Renee Fleming: Christmas in New York with Friends arranger, piano ("Central Park Serenade," "The Christmas Waltz")
2013 Sony Masterworks Gloria Estefan: The Standards Gloria Estefan (vocals, producer), Emilio Estefan (co-producer), Shelly Berg (co-producer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, piano) 2 Grammy Nominations:
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (Shelly Berg, co-producer); Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for "What a Wonderful World" (Shelly Berg, arranger)[17]
2013 Legacy Recordings Heart: Christmas Singles ("All Through the Night" with Richard Marx, "Please Come Home for Christmas" with Aaron Neville) arranger, piano
2013 Jazzed Media Lorraine Feather: Tales of the Unusual composer, arranger, piano Grammy Nomination "Out There" (Shelly Berg, arranger)[17]
2013 iTunes Yoshiki: Yoshiki Classical arranger, orchestrator No. 4 Oricon, No. 11 Billboard Classical
2012 iTunes Yoshiki: 69th Golden Globe Awards Theme - Single orchestrator TV airing 2012, iTunes release 2013
2012 Concord Arturo Sandoval: Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You) arranger, piano Grammy Award-winning album
2012 i Am Other Pharrell Williams: i AM Other orchestrator, conductor
2011 Concord An Evening with Dave Grusin (Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra) arranger, piano, co-conductor Grammy-nominated album
2011 Shanachie Patti Austin: Sound Advice arranger, piano
2011 Sanctuary Lorraine Feather: Dooji Wooji composer, arranger, piano
2011 Capri Ken Peplowski, In Search Of piano
2010 Jazzed Media Lorraine Feather: Ages composer, arranger, piano Grammy-nominated album
2010 Concord Monica Mancini: I've Loved These Days arranger, piano
2010 Azika Trish O'Brien: Out of a Dream arranger, piano
2010 Bandcamp Tim Hockenberry: The List piano, keys
2010 Capri Ken Peplowski: Noir Blue piano
2010 Concord Arturo Sandoval: A Time for Love arranger, piano Triple Latin Grammy Award-winning album
2008 Sanctuary Lorraine Feather: Language composer, arranger, piano
2008 DIG Music Jamie Davis: Vibe Over Perfection piano
2007 Concord We Love Ella! A Tribute To The First Lady Of Song (DVD) piano, arranger, conductor
2007 Koch Carole King: Love Makes the World arranger
2006 Concord Ray Charles/Count Basie: Ray Sings, Basie Swings arranger, piano Ray Sings, Basie Swings
2006 Concord Dionne Warwick: My Friends and Me arranger
2005 iTunes Yoshiki: I'll Be Your Love (Theme for the World Expo Japan) classical version, Super World Orchestra orchestrator Expo 2005 live premiere, released 2013 on Yoshiki Classical
2005 EMI Joe Cocker: Heroes & Friends orchestrator, conductor
2004 Concord Ultimate Mancini various artists piano Grammy-nominated album
2004 Sanctuary Lorraine Feather: Such Sweet Thunder arranger, piano
2004 Falconaires Falconaires: Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye (A Falconaires Tribute To Frank Mantooth) producer
2003 Backstage Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra: Regions piano
2002 Warner P&D Aja Daashuur: Before the Beginning orchestrator
2002 GNP Bill Watrous: A Time For Love arranger, piano
2001 Mlp Records Michele Patzakis: What Sweeter Music arranger, orchestrator, piano
2000 Rubeda Canis Musica Morten Lauridsen: Northwest Journey arranger, piano ("Where Have All the Actors Gone") with Sunny Wilkinson (vocals) Grammy Award-winning album
2000 Telarc Tierney Sutton: Unsung Heroes piano ("When Lights Are Low")
2000 WUCF-FM Live At WUCF: 20th Anniversary Concert Series piano ("Like Someone in Love")
1999 Verve Records Chris Botti: Slowing Down the World piano
1999 iTunes Yoshiki: Anniversary (Theme for the Emperor of Japan 10 Year Anniversary) co-arranger, co-orchestrator live premiere 1999 Tokyo, mix version Yoshiki 2005 Eternal Melody II, iTunes 2013 Yoshiki Classical
1998 DreamWorks Elliott Smith: XO orchestrator, string and horn arrangements Spin Magazine #2 Record of the Year
1998 EMI KISS: Psycho Circus piano Grammy nominated album
1998 CARS John Leitham, Live! - Shelly Berg (piano) with John Leitham (bass), Pete Christlieb (sax), Ricky Woodard (sax), Joe LaBarbara (drums) piano
1998 Amherst Jeff Jarvis: Following Footsteps piano
1997 Capitol Richard Marx: Flesh and Bone arranger, orchestrator Grammy Award-winning album
1997 Hip Bop Michael "Patches" Stewart: Blue Patches arranger, piano
1997 Double-Time Bill Watrous: Space Available arranger, piano
1996 Atlantic X Japan: Crucify My Love arranger Japan release
1996 Sony X Japan: Dahlia arranger, orchestrator Platinum
1995 Warner Bros. Chicago: Night and Day arranger
1994 Mercury Yoshiki: KISS Tribute ("Black Diamond") | arranger, orchestrator
1993 Sony X Japan: Art of Life arranger, orchestrator #1 International
1992 GNP Bill Watrous: Bone-ified arranger, piano
1991 Sony Johnny Hernandez: Til Death Do Us Part arranger, piano
1990 Four Leaf Clover Rich Matteson, Louis Bellson: Pardon Our Dust, We're Making Changes piano
1989 Regina Musical Regina Plays The Nutcracker (new arrangements recorded on a Regina Music Box) arranger, selected tracks
1988 Regina Musical Regina's Small World (new arrangements recorded on a Regina Music Box) arranger, selected tracks
1988 Regina Musical Christmas Regina (new arrangements recorded on a Regina Music Box) arranger, selected tracks
1984 CBS Associated The Beltons: Teddy Bear arranger
1982 Meca Chris Meyer: Ready, Willing, and Stable composer, arranger, producer, piano
1980 Wheel Car Songs (16 Songs from the Early Days of Automobiles) arranger
1979 Epic Mickey Gilley: Mickey Gilley piano
1979 Epic Mickey Gilley: The Songs We Made Love To piano
1979 Delta Cotton-Eyed Joe & Other Texas Dance Hall Favorites piano
1979 Rhythm Wade Driver: His Favorite Singing Calls arranger, piano
1978 Lar Mar Larry & Marilyn and The Brass Connection keyboards, arranger
1977 Lar Mar Larry & Marilyn featuring The Brass Connection keyboards, vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn, arranger
1976 Lar Mar Larry & Marilyn: White Shoes (for NFL football player Billy Johnson) composer, arranger, keyboards
Multiple Yamaha Disklavier Recorded over 40 Disklavier projects including: Hot it Up, The Music of Fats Waller, Amadeus, John Williams Greatest Hits, Carmen, La Traviata, The Music Man, Frank Sinatra Collection arranger, piano

Film, television, and radio[edit]

As composer / arranger / orchestrator / performer / musical director

Year Label Title Notes
2020 PBS Jonathan Antoine: Going the Distance [23] also Sony DVD performance
2019 PBS Gloria & Emilio Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song music director, orchestration, performance
2019 Kino Lorber Lifeline / Clyfford Still [24] composer, orchestration, performance, production
2018 PBS Tony Bennett: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song performance, 2018, Emmy winner[25]
2016 PBS White House Holiday Tree Lighting orchestration, performance, musical direction, 2016, 2014, 2013
2015 Sirius XM Generation Next Real Jazz Sirius XM monthly program host, 2015–present
2015 NBC Macy's July 4th Spectacular arranging, orchestration, production
2015 PBS Renée Fleming: Christmas in New York arranging
2014 PBS Gloria Estefan: The Standards also Sony DVD arranging, orchestration, performance, musical direction
2014 PBS Jazz and The Philharmonic also Sony DVD arranging, orchestration, performance, musical direction
2010 NPR Jim Cullum's Riverwalk Jazz performance, 13 episodes, 2007-2010
2007 PBS We Love Ella arranging, orchestration, performance, musical direction
2006 Warner Bros. For Your Consideration (feature film) orchestration
2005 Miramax Cinderella Man (Academy Award-winning feature film, Golden Globe nominations) performance
2005 Imo Wo Dakshimete (Japanese television series) arranging and orchestrating
2000 Fox Men of Honor (feature film) arranging, performance and production
2000 HBO Dennis Miller Live (weekly television series) composing, arranging, performance, production
1999 HBO Dennis Miller Millennium Special composing, arranging, performance, production
1999 Warner Bros. Three to Tango (feature film) arranging, orchestration, production
1999 Lifetime Two Cups of Joe orchestration, performance
1999 NBC The 60s (miniseries) composing, performance, orchestration
1998 NBC Almost Heroes (feature film) orchestration
1997 ABC Fudge, weekly television series 1995-1997 composing, arranging, performance, production
1993 CBS A League of Their Own, weekly television series composing, arranging, performance, production
1988 ESPN US Olympic Festival composing, arranging, performance, production
1988 PBS Great American Jazz Piano Competition performance
1986 ESPN Turn It On for 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival television show composing, arranging, performance, production



Year Award Title Notes Label
2018 Grammy Nomination[17] Best Arrangement, Instrumental & Vocals,
Shelly Berg, Gordon Goodwin, Gregg Field, Clint Holmes, arrangers,
"I Loves You Porgy / There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York"
Clint Holmes: "Rendezvous"
(with Dee Dee Bridgewater and The Count Basie Orchestra)
L & L Music
2015 Grammy Nomination[17] Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals,
Shelly Berg, arranger, "Be My Muse"
Lorraine Feather: "Flirting with Disaster" Jazzed Media
2014 Grammy Nomination[17] Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals,
Shelly Berg, arranger, "What a Wonderful World"
Gloria Estefan: "The Standards" Sony Masterworks
2013 Grammy Nomination[17] Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals,
Shelly Berg, arranger, "Out There"
Lorraine Feather: "Tales of the Unusual" Jazzed Media

Selected Honors and Awards

Year Organization Award Location
2018 Musical America Worldwide Top Professionals of the Year, special report[26] Musical America
2017 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Knight Arts Champion[27] Miami, Florida
2017 Ronald McDonald House Charities 12 Good Men 2017 Honoree[28] Miami, Florida
2017 Citizens Interested in the Arts Champion of the Arts Award[29] Miami, Florida
2016 Entertainment Cruise Productions, LLC The Jazz Cruise Hall of Fame, Inductee The Jazz Cruise 2016
2013 Classical South Florida Radio Ziff Honors Award in the Arts[30] Miami, Florida
2012 University of Miami Iron Arrow Honor Society, Inductee[31] Miami, Florida
2011 DownBeat Jazz Education Achievement Award[32] June 2011
2011 University of Miami Alumni Association Inside Out Award[33] Miami, Florida
2010 South Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance 9th Annual Oro Valley Legend of Jazz Award[34] Tucson, Arizona
2009 City of Miami Proclamation Honoring Leadership in the Arts[35] Miami, Florida
2005 JazzWeek #1 Jazz CD, Blackbird[36] US Jazz Radio
2005 JazzWeek Finalist, Record of the Year and Artist of the Year US Jazz Radio
2003 Los Angeles Jazz Society Jazz Educator of the Year[37] Los Angeles, California
2002 Elkhart Jazz Festival Hall of Fame Elkhart, Indiana
2002 International Assoc. Jazz Educators (IAJE) Lawrence Berk Leadership Award[38] New Orleans, Louisiana
1999 Los Angeles Times Named one of three "Educators for the Millennium"[39] Los Angeles, California
1988 Finalist Great American Jazz Piano Competition Jacksonville, Florida
1987 ADDY Award Seven Southwest Region ADDY Awards (1981-1987) Houston, Texas


  1. ^
  2. ^ Jazz Education Journal; Manhattan, Kan. Vol. 39, Iss. 4, (Feb 2007): A62.
  3. ^ a b Piano Performer Magazine, March 22, 2017, And All that Jazz, interview with Tanya Levy
  4. ^ Shelly Berg: Biography, by Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
  5. ^ a b c d Three for the 21st Century, Los Angeles Times Magazine, by Danny Feingold, February 7, 1999
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music edited by W. K. McNeil, Routledge, 2013
  7. ^ a b Baytown Sun, 18 Mar 1983, page 16
  8. ^ Houston Press, "Swing-Time" by Paul J. MacArthur, Sep. 28, 2000
  9. ^ a b The Baytown Sun, 18 Mar 1983
  10. ^ The Odessa American (Odessa, Texas), 17 Nov 1985, p. 73
  11. ^ Los Angeles Times, 25 Jul 1996 p. 57
  12. ^ USC Thornton School of Music, Buzz and Barbara McCoy
  13. ^ Jazz Education Journal; Manhattan, Kan. Vol. 37, Iss. 4, (Feb 2005): A38.
  14. ^ Television review: A Mastery in Swing Time That Endures for All Time, by Stephen Holden, New York Times, June 6, 2007
  15. ^ University of Miami names Acclaimed Musician, Composer and Educator to Lead Frost School of Music, Business Wire, 27 April 2007
  16. ^ Score magazine: Frost School of Music, 2017
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Shelly Berg". Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ All Music Guide
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ On its 10th anniversary, Knight Foundation website
  28. ^ Veritas, University of Miami, May 25, 2017
  29. ^ Social Miami, March 26, 2017
  30. ^ Community Newspapers, Miami, April 27, 2013
  31. ^
  32. ^ DownBeat magazine, 34th Annual Student Music Awards issue, June 2011, p. 114
  33. ^ Veritas, University of Miami, April 27, 2011, UM Alumni Association Honors Distinguished Individuals
  34. ^
  35. ^ Presented by Mayor Manual A. Diaz, Miami City Commission Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2009
  36. ^ JazzWeek, February 09, 2005
  37. ^
  38. ^ Jazz Education Journal; Manhattan, Kan. Vol. 34, Iss. 4, (Jan 2002): A33.
  39. ^ Feingold, Danny. Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]07 Feb 1999: 26.

External links[edit]