Ken Berman / Press

“San Francisco-based pianist Ken Berman leads his very able trio into newly chartered territory on Sound Poetry, a sound and charming musical statement from a superb pianist and composer. Billy Strayhorn's oft-recorded standard "Lush Life" opens the music with an expansive piano solo providing cleaver right-hand finger-play on a generally lush treatment of one of Strayhorn's signature tunes. Paying tribute to a couple of inspirational figures in his career, Berman pens "Old Dylan" (for "Bob Dylan") and "Bill Frisell," two original pieces the trio performs energetically. The main inspirational tune of the album is obviously, "The Poet," ..this one just happens to be one of the best charts of the album containing a slight nod to John Coltrane's "Equinox." Seemingly an instrumental ballad at first glance, "Old Style Tune" actually has a lot of kick to it featuring firm piano play, bass and drum solos that sounds in fact pretty modern at that.”

“Here’s an intuitive and lyrical collection of music by a trio lead by pianist Ken Berman. He uses his solo sounds on Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and George Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” as atmospheric bookends to frame his delicate work with Kai Eckhardt/eb and Akira Tana/dr. As for the solo excursions, hints of Satie pop up here and there, while on his trio selections, stately melodies and thoughtful solos abound on compositions such as “Dylan” and “The Poet” while a bit of bluesy grooves slide to center stage with a touch of bop on “Frisell” and “Diane.” His approach is quite mature and patient, but never stale or rote-he has feeling in his delivery but it’s more on the side of grace than grease. Flowing like a silk nightgown.”

“Pianist Ken Berman leads his own trio on Sound Poetry, featuring electric bassist Kai Eckhardt and drummer Akira Tana. On eight originals (including tributes to Bob Dylan, Bill Frisell and indirectly to Bill Evans), and fresh versions of “Lush Life” and “Someone To Watch Over Me,” (the latter modernized and taken as an unaccompanied piano solo), Berman and his group perform thoughtful, melodic and impressionistic music. Grooving as much as swinging, the musicians develop and build up the music as it progresses. There is plenty of close interplay by the musicians with Berman in the lead. While one might think of Bill Evans or Vince Guaraldi in spots, Ken Berman has his own sound, with plenty of fire displayed on the medium-tempo jazz waltz “Spaghetti Eastern.” Sound Poetry lives up to its title and will hold the interest of listeners throughout the well-balanced and easily enjoyable set.”


"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… and the musical content of the tune is strong. Berman… 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. …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. Tana, Eckhardt,and Berman each have something to say on their instruments and they say it here. 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!!"

“Fiercely Imaginative”

“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.”

“Looking Forward [is] 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. Tonally, he's funky and contemporary, more closely aligned to Vijay Ayer or Aaron Parks than straight-ahead players of the past…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.”

"Gifted with a very fine touch and a state-of-the-art technique, Ken Berman composes very cool jazz, not at all cerebral, and extremely well-played."

Citizen Jazz

“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. ”

“New York Pianist Ken Berman has been the talk of the town and in the clubs of Paris - 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

“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.”

“The fluid and erudite American artist Ken Berman, whose latest album, "The Ken Berman Trio" combines a complex range of improvisation with delicate sensuality and brilliance”

Le Monde