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Shelly Berg On Riverwalk Jazz This Week

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This week on Riverwalk Jazz, pianist Shelly Berg joins The Jim Cullum Jr. Jazz Band on the bandstand in San Antonio for a free-wheeling jam session.

The program is distributed in the US by Public Radio International, on Sirius/XM satellite radio and can be streamed on-demand from the Riverwalk Jazz website.

The LA Times calls him “a whirlwind of motion on the piano bench.” He’s a composer, arranger, educator, conductor, and jazz piano virtuoso. He recorded with Woody Herman, Louis Bellson, Freddie Hubbard and Randy Brecker, among others. His own solo CDs have garnered critical acclaim. Recently, he arranged songs on the popular album Ray Sings—Basie Swings.

Shelly’s interest in jazz covers a wide spectrum of styles and periods—from James P. Johnson and Fats Waller to Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. He credits his father, jazz trumpeter Jay Berg, with getting him started on the jazz path.

At this session, Shelly and the Band take off on familiar Fats Waller clssics “Black and Blue” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and he tackles the challenging Waller piano solo “Valentine Stomp.” Duke Ellington’s “Jubilee Stomp” and the familiar ballad “Sophisticated Lady” get nuanced readings.

About Duke Ellington, Shelly says: “In some ways, Ellington is the most important figure in the history of jazz. When we think about jazz truly becoming an “art" music and entering the realm of classic music in the best way, we think of Ellington. Even in early Ellington pieces like “Black and Tan Fantasy" you hear complete genius.”

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Shelly Berg was accepted at the Cleveland Institute of Music at the age of 6. He began his professional career at 13. Today, Shelly is a national leader in jazz education. He is past president of the International Association for Jazz Education and was Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. Berg is currently Dean of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He is the author of Jazz Improvisation: The Goal-Note Method and the Chop-Monster jazz series.

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