Karl Berger  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Karl Hanns Berger (born March 30, 1935 in Heidelberg, Germany) is a musicologist with a PhD in Music Sociology, jazz composer, jazz vibraphone and piano player.



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 (USA).

Most of his output has been rather experimental. He has been active in Free Jazz circles, recording with Carla Bley, Don Cherry, 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 vividly manner. He dealt with world music very earlier and devised a unique system for understanding and playing in any meter, from standard time signatures to more exotic odd meters and polyrhythms. It was published as "Dr. B.'s Rhythmic Training".

In 1995 he recorded the improviser's orchestra album "No Man Is An Island" ( Douglas/Knitting Factory )

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, Angelique Kidjo, Buckethead and Shin Terai.

He signed with the Tzadik label in 2010 and released a piano solo album "Strangely Familiar", that received much acclaim. A box set of his unreleased music is in preparation for 2012

Presently (2011) Karl Berger's Stone Workshop Orchestra appears every Monday at John Zorn's performance space The Stone in New York City.

He 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' and 80' are transferred to digital domains and an oral history component preserves essential information from the heyday of the Creative Music Studio


As leader

As sideman

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