Josh Berman


Josh Berman is an internationally recognized cornetist and composer. He has led the acclaimed Old Idea, Josh Berman and his Gang, and his own trio. In addition to being an indispensable contributor to Chicago’s jazz and improvised music scene, Berman has been a concert presenter with fellow Chicagoan Mike Reed, producing hundreds of shows over the past 20 years. Berman’s work has been critically acclaimed in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, JazzTimes, and DownBeat, among others. His recordings can be found on the Chicago’s legendary Delmark Records and more recently on Austin’s Astral Spirits Records

Michael Zerang and the Blue Lights
Songs from the Big Book of Love

Mars Williams – alto sax (#2, 7), tenor sax (#1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8)
Dave Rempis – alto sax (#1, 3, 4, 6, 8), tenor sax (#1, 2), baritone sax (#5, 7)
Josh Berman – cornet
Kent Kessler – contrabass
Michael Zerang – drums

However, the fact that a great deal of the music is notated, does not mean that there is no room for improvisation although you might argue that the old theme/solo/theme/solo pattern is really worn out. But it’s just the opposite! Oriental riffs are used as a foundation to go completely astray (the saxes in “Persian Lips”), fanfare-like tunes meet urban funkiness (“Dancing for Cigarette”) and crazy over-blown sax solos (“To Tu”), syncopated cadences clash into Eastern melodies, free jazz excursions and call-and-response schemes (“Chicago Rub Down”). The brass section is a killer – especially Rempis and Williams kick asses – , Kent Kessler is solid as a rock, and Zerang‘s super-tight, earthy and relaxed strikes, his manic drum rolls, and Middle Eastern grooves keep the diverging elements together. Even the ballad (“I don’t know if you are beautiful tonight”) is so full of warmth you cannot resist. Hardly ever did I have such continuous fun listening to an album.

-Martin Schray, Free Jazz Blog, 2015