The Cliff Korman Ensemble

The Cliff Korman Ensemble


This ensemble combines creativity with mastery! The balance between composition and improvisation creates a layered, flowing soundscape of Brazilian rhythm and song combined with a sophisticated personal language. The performance is a vibrant experience of improvised, well-organized freedom.


THE CLIFF KORMAN ENSEMBLE is a multi-faceted project that spans from performance and recording to developing academic curricula on Improvisation, Ensemble Performance Techniques, and Brazilian Jazz, The group has appeared in various incarnations since 1996, in the United States, Portugal, and Brazil. Current personnel includes Billy Drewes (tenor and soprano sax, clarinet); Luis Bonilla (trombone); Uri Sharlin (accordion); Rob Moose (violin, mandolin) Andy Eulau (bass); Vanderlei Pereira (drums); Edson da Silva (percussion); Cliff Korman (piano, composer, arranger). Recent performances include The Vila Celimontan Jazz and Image Festival (Rome, Italy: August, 2005), The Jazz Gallery (New York City: March 2005), Trumpets (Montclair, NJ: October 2004), Cornelia Street Café (New York City: March, 2004), Berklee College of Music (Boston: October 2003), Manhattan School of Music (New York City: November 2003), Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia: July 2002). The group has appeared under the guise of “The Brazilian Tinge” for a number of performances and on the 2004 release Migrations.
The ensemble considers the sound and inclinations of each member of the group, and uses the resultant colors and interplay as inspiration to germinate and develop ideas. We've recently begun to work with open structures; we begin with arranged themes and interludes, and allow the improvisations to evolve over an undetermined time frame and harmonic sequence. We seek to provide “soundscapes” that will provide an environment in which each individual in the group can explore and develop his personal language and participate in creating a collective voice.

Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Producer, Educator

An accomplished jazz pianist and highly regarded educator, Cliff Korman likes to say that twenty years of immersion in the musical universe of Brasil sheds a different light on the way he looks at American jazz. He has developed numerous jazz projects featuring Brazilian and American musicians and presenting a variety of original compositions and arrangements. His understanding of the diversity of sound, instrumentation and harmonic patterns of Brazilian music of the twentieth century enables him to continuously explore the complex interconnections that link the music of the Americas.

Korman has performed as a soloist and co-leader in New York venues such as Birdland, The Knickerbocker Bar and Grill, and Lincoln Center, and in Italy at the Cantar da Costa Festival of Brazilian Music and Culture. He toured with vocalist Astrud Gilberto from 1989-94, and for many years has participated in important Brazilian projects such as the “Tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim” at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Cesar Camargo Mariano and a two-piano production with Wagner Tiso and Milton Nascimento at the International Festival of MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) in São Paulo. He has produced and arranged a number of Brazilian Jazz CD’s including Chuck Mangione’s “The Feeling’s Back” and “Entre Amigos”, a project featuring vocalist Rosa Passos and bassist Ron Carter.

His newest release is the recording “Migrations” (Planet Arts, 2004), an aural representation of the mark Brazilian music and culture have made on his compositions and improvisational language. His duo record “Mood Ingênuo: The Dream of Pixinguinha and Duke Ellington”(Jazzheads 1999) with Grammy Award winner Paulo Moura represents one of the first cross-cultural explorations of jazz and choro. Their 2000 recording “Gafieira Dance Brasil” pays homage to the dance roots of the instrumental and improvisational tradition of Brazilian music.

Cliff holds a Master of Arts in Jazz Performance from the City College of New York, where he trained with Roland Hanna, Ron Carter and Kenny Barron. He regularly teaches courses and seminars on Jazz Piano, Jazz Theory, Improvisation, Rhythm Section Skills, and Brazilian Instrumental Music at institutions including City College, the Escola de Música of Brasilia, The Collective and the New School. He is currently a candidate for the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Jazz Studies at the Manhattan School of Music.

Korman’s research in the fields of Jazz and Brazilian music has received prestigious recognition, including a Fulbright Lecture/Research grant in Brasil, the invitation by the Society for American Music to deliver a paper on the music of Thelonious Monk, the publication of an article on the same topic in the Annual Review of Jazz Studies, and the invitation to present his lecture Jazz & Brazilian Instrumental Music: Common Roots, Divergent Paths at the Jazz Research Roundtable at Rutgers University. He is co-author of the instructional book “Inside the Brazilian Rhythm Section” (Sher Music 2002).


Migrations (Planet Arts 2004)
Gafieira Dance Brasil (independent 2000)
Bossa Jazz (independent, Brasil, 2001)


As Leader
“Migrations” (Planet Arts, 2004)
Cliff Korman and the Brazilian Tinge
“Bossa Jazz” vol 1, 2 (independent, 2003, 2001)
“Gafieira Dance Brasil” (independent, 2000)
Brazilian Ballroom dance w/ Paulo Moura

"Mood Ingênuo: Pixinguinha Meets Duke Ellington” (Jazzheads, 1999)
duo w/ Grammy Award winner Paulo Moura

As Arranger/Producer

“Entre Amigos” (Chesky 2003)
Pairs Brazilian vocalist Rosa Passos with American bassist Ron Carter

“The Feeling’s Back” (Chesky 1999)
Chuck Mangione with Brazilian/Latin grooves

“Blue Bossa” (Chesky 2001)
Brazilian vocalist Ana Caram

“I Thought About You” (Chesky 1997)
Jazz vocalist Christy Baron

As Sideman

Jon Lucien
“By Request” (Shanachie, 1999)
Astrud Gilberto
“Jungle” (2002)
Temperance” (Pony Canyon, 1997)

Toninho Horta
“Foot On The Road” (Verve Forecast, 1995)
Gerry Mulligan
“Paraiso” (Telarc, 1993)

Set List

"Migrations" as performed in full lasts between 60-75 minutes, depending on time alloted for imprvisational sections. Additional material includes adaptations of the works of other composers including Darius Milhaus and Heitor Villa-Lobos. The Migrations set list is:
Entrance: Abre Alas
Choro: Chorondo
Dance: Corta Jaca
Procession: Abre Alas
Choro: Migrations
Ciranda: Pobre Cega
Dance: Domingo a noite com Café
Exite: Abre Alas
Coda: Childlike