Ken Berman
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Ken Berman

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Americana


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Best Jazz of 2010: Top Ten CDs"

Inner rhythms, complex progressions and true interactivity characterize the California pianist’s collaboration with drummer Akira Tana and bassist Kai Eckhardt. - Philip Booth

"2010 Critics Ballots Revealed!"

Critic Philip Booth chooses Ken Berman's CD "Looking Forward" as "One of the Top Ten Best and Most Important Releases of 2010" - Jazz Times

"Looking Forward - Record Reviews"

The confluence of Berman-Eckhardt-Tana turns out to be a very good idea. First cut starts cantabile solo piano in the expressive quasi romantically post Evans way, then the band comes in bossa nova. Eckhardt has that deep post Jaco post Swallow electric sound and the musical content of the tune is strong. They get into more of a light Rock Jazz feel and a recurring chord sequence. Eckhart plays some nicely wrought solos. Since his tenure with McLaughlin he's been playing in a funk outfit called Garage Mahal. That band creates some interesting music and he sounds well there, too, but it's nice to hear him exposed and limber in a more strictly improvisational context. Berman of course gets plenty of solo time here. He sounds good, in a full-voiced way. Steve-Kuhn-Bley-Jarrett-Evans are people he has appreciated, I suspect, and he belongs to that school here if that's what you would like to call it. It's a kind of narrative post-Bop style, with linear and harmonic movement the main thrust, as opposed to the event-cell vertical orientation of Cecil Taylor and those who follow along that path.

This is probably not the place for a blow-by-blow because it's all well done and a very good example of a modern piano trio playing original material that doesn't sound like stolen goods. Acoustic Jazz-Rock, Bossa and some swinging numbers prevail. Tana, Eckhardt,and Berman each have something to say on their instruments and they say it here. And I think it's well done! It's an album I'll be happy to go back to and dig in to in the years to come. I'm especially pleased with this combination of players. I hope they do more!! - Cadence Magazine

""Fiercely Imaginative""

Ken Berman, a fiercely imaginative young pianist who's drawing comparisons to the young Keith Jarrett, appears with his trio (including bass ace Kai Eckhardt) at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bach Dancing & Dynamite, on the beach south of Half Moon Bay. Tickets are $30.

- Sf Examiner.Com

"Ken Berman Trio"

"A dynamic and inventive trio, with a fluid and sensitive sound reminiscent of the great piano trios of Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, and Nat King Cole. They primarily perform critically acclaimed original material written by pianist and composer Ken Berman." -

"In Mind, The Ken Berman Trio"

“Gifted with a very fine touch and a state-of-the-art technique," Ken Berman writes "very cool jazz, not too cerebral, and extremely well-played.” - Citizen Jazz

"Ken Berman Trio at Anna's Jazz Island"

“Ken Berman, a harmonically inventive pianist, is a promising new addition to the Bay Area jazz scene.” -

"Ken Berman, In Mind"

“When listening to Ken Berman's trio CD In Mind, it is easy to think of Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, for Berman's chord voicings and his close interplay with his sidemen recall the work of his two predecessors. The difference is that Berman wrote all ten selections, he never copies Evans or Jarrett, and at times he sounds more advanced than either of them.” “The music overall is both swinging and thoughtful, spontaneous and purposeful. It is worthy of several listens and easily recommended. - The Los Angeles Jazz Scene, Scott Yanow

"Jazz in Store"

Composer Ken Berman is sometimes compared to Keith Jarrett; that's a compliment. But the Ken Berman Trio's music makes us think more of drinking strong tea in the avenues on a socked-in foggy day than of any particular compere the local music prof may have. It's contemplative jazz, gentle but without a trace of fluff or artifice. Berman's favored in Paris and Los Angeles, where jazz critic Scott Yanow called his piano work "both swinging and thoughtful." The trio also features Kai Eckhardt on electric bass and Akira Tana on drums. Catch them tonight in the interesting company of many, many pianos and the high-class acoustics of a music store.

- SF Weekly

"Ken Berman "Looking Forward" by Rachel Swan"

Piano trios are no longer what they were in the era of Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett. They're not always trying to plough through standards or set a darkly romantic mood. In fact, some of the newer trio leaders are learning to treat their pianos as percussion instruments. They're willing to sometimes let the bass and drum take reign. They're less concernedwith virtuosity, or more interested in forward-motion. They'll even compose from a drummer's point of view. Ken Berman tries that approach on the title track of his new album, Looking Forward. It's arguably the most interesting composition on a record that won't suffer for lack of originality. Akira Tana provides a bustling drumbeat, working his ride cymbal for a large portion of the song. Berman plays the theme with a triplet feel. He solos with short, clipped phrases and lots of space between notes. It bumps.

Known locally as both a bandleader as music teacher — he sits on the faculty of UC Berkeley's Music Department — Berman has garnered comparisons to Jarrett and Evans, probably more for his versatility than anything else. Tonally, he's funky and contemporary, more closely aligned to Vijay Ayer or Aaron Parks than straight-ahead players of the past. Even the prettier, moodier numbers on Looking Forward — ones like "Sailing to Byzantium" and "Reflections" — have a discernible pulse. Other songs, like "April Fools," are quick and tricky. "Pot Hole Road Rage" resists traditional harmony. Kai Eckhardt plays electric bass throughout, which gives the groove a sharper, contemporary edge.

Berman took a big risk on Looking Forward. He put together eight original tunes that varied in length and style, and chose an abstract concept (movement) to unify them. Looking Forward has no standards, no jazz versions of a pop tune, and no hip-hop backbeats. It straddles genre, but not intentionally. And his music is hard, to boot. But ultimately, the album makes good on its name. - East Bay Express

""Looking Forward" - Ken Berman Trio"

An original pianist with an impressionistic style, Ken Berman performs eight of his compositions on Looking Forward. Berman teams up with electric bassist Kai Eckhardt (an excellent soloist who gets a generous amount of solo space) and the subtle drummer Akira Tana. While Berman, who teaches at Berkeley and Stanford University, can be compared to other pianists who engage in close interplay with their sidemen in trios such as Richie Beirach, Keith Jarrett and of course Bill Evans, in reality he has his own chord voicings and ideas.

Most of the performances on Looking Forward feature thoughtful playing and gradual development at a relatively quiet volume. This is the type of jazz that grows in interest with each listening because it is quite subtle, is full of inner heat, and its details tend to reveal themselves over time.

The overall music is intriguing and well worth a close listen. - Scott Yanow, The Los Angeles Jazz Scene


“Ken Berman may not know much about the correct way to spell the name "Burman", but he certainly knows a thing or two about playing jazz piano. And about composing for it. If you like piano trios, and interesting performances of original melodies that are, turn by turn, hypnotic or lilting, waltzing or funky, then keep "In Mind" in mind. ” - Michael Burman, KCSM disc jockey and producer

"Ken Berman, Artiste du Jazz"

"The fluid and erudite Ken Berman plays complex registers of improvisations that are imbued with delicate sensuality and brilliance."

Le Monde, May 26, 2004

<< Le fluide et érudit Ken Berman joue sur les registres complexes de
l'improvisation autant que sure une sensualité légère et éclatante>>

Le Monde, 26 mai 2004

- Le Monde

"Ken Berman Trio"

"New York Pianist Ken Berman has been the talk of the town and in the clubs of the capital of jazz for several seasons. In 2003, he recorded an excellent album of standards. Precise and inventive, he will appear at the Sunside with Fabien Marcoz on the bass and David Grebil on the drums."

Le Monde, December 5, 2005

<< Pianiste new-yorkais, Ken Berman fait parler de lui dans les clubs de la capitale du jazz depuis quelques saisons. Il a enregistré, en 2003, un album de reprises de standards fort bien mené. Précis et inventif, il aura pour compagnon au Sunside Fabien Marcoza á la contrebasse et David Grebil á la batterie>>

Le Monde, 5 decembre 2005

- Le Monde


"A beautiful, remarkable piece of music"

Robert Harrison, DJ, KZSU Radio
- Stanford University Radio


Looking Forward (2010)
In Mind (2006)
Ken Berman Trio (2003)
Ken Berman EP (2000)
Grace Kelly, Dreaming (2004)



In the January 2011 issue of JazzTimes magazine, critic Philip Booth chose pianist and composer Ken Berman's CD "Looking Forward" as "ONE OF THE TEN BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT RELEASES OF 2010."

The SF Examiner.Com called Ken Berman "a fiercely imaginative pianist" and Le Monde hailed him as a performer whose "complex improvisations are imbued with delicate sensuality and brilliance." The East Bay Express praised his 2010 release "Looking Forward" as "daring," "original," and "straddling genres," and compared his playing to Vijay Iyer and Aaron Parks. Jazz critic Scott Yanow writes, "when listening to Ken Berman's trio it is easy to think of Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, for Berman's chord voicings and his close interplay with his sidemen recall the work of his two predecessors. The difference is that Berman wrote all selections, he never copies Evans or Jarrett, and at times he sounds more advanced than either of them." Cadence Magazine placed Looking Forward "on the cutting edge” of the contemporary jazz scene: “It's a very good example of a modern piano trio playing original material that doesn't sound like stolen goods.”

Ken Berman's latest album, "Looking Forward," features a kinetic trio with bass virtuoso Kai Eckhardt and the legendary Akira Tana on drums performing breathtaking and inspired improvisatory jazz in the mold of Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny, and Bill Evans, but at the same time sounding unassumingly unique and original. "Looking Forward" was placed on the rotations of over 40 NPR and Jazz stations nationwide, including WDCB in Chicago, WEMU in Michigan, WCLK in Atlanta, WSKG, WAER and WHCR in New York, Pacifica station KMHD in Portland, KSKA and KUAC in Anchorage, KKUP in San Jose, KRML in Monterey, KPFA in Berkeley, and KCSM in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Born in NY, and originally classically trained, Mr. Berman studied piano and composition at the University of Michigan and Berklee College of Music, and later with legendary jazz mentors Barry Harris and Charlie Banacos. Ken Berman has appeared on the famed stages of Carnegie Recital Hall in New York, Yoshi's Oakland and San Francisco, Detroit's Fox Theater, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and The Sunside in Paris. He has performed and recorded with Bob Moses, Akira Tana, Kai Eckhardt, John Lockwood, Yoron Israel, Bob Gullotti, Jaleel Shaw, Take Toriyama, Marc Van Wagenigen, Remi Vignolo, Sarah Manning and others: he’s been the recipient of several artist grants and awards for his ongoing work in jazz education.

Mr. Berman's piano skills have drawn comparisons with an array of jazz piano greats, including Bill Evans, Ramsey Lewis, Keith Jarrett, Joe Sample, Richie Beirach, Vijay Iyer and Aaron Parks. His 2006 CD, "In Mind," was rated one of the top 15 jazz releases of 2006 on the Jazz with Bob Parlocha website, and was added to the playlist of NPR jazz stations nationwide.

His critically acclaimed 2006 release "In Mind," features ten inspired original tracks showcasing his strengths as a composer and pianist, leading a combo that includes a host of extraordinary Boston-based jazz musicians, including John Lockwood on bass and drummers Yoron Israel and Bob Gullotti. The French newspaper Le Monde praised Ken Berman as a "fluid and erudite" rising jazz star who "has been the talk of the town in the clubs and cafes of Paris, the [European] capital of jazz."

Ken is currently on the music faculty at the University of California at Berkeley, and teaches at Stanford University.