The All Music Guide says “Shelly Berg is one of the finest pianists around in the early 21st century playing modern mainstream jazz.” His latest recording project The Deep with bassist Dave Finck on Chesky Records is widely praised for its versatility and virtuosity with 4.5 stars from DownBeat magazine. His solo project Shelly Berg: The Nearness of You (Arbors) and a two-piano album with Dick Hyman Meeting of Minds (Victoria) are also both critically acclaimed. His album Blackbird, recorded with the Shelly Berg Trio on the Concord Records label, reached #1 in US jazz radio and garnered Record of the Year and Artist of the Year nominations (Jazzweek, 2005).
A Steinway piano artist and multi-Grammy nominated arranger and producer, his recording of “Rhapsody in Blue” and other Gershwin selections with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will soon be released worldwide by Universal Music Group.
Berg was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals category as co-arranger of “I Loves You Porgy / There’s a Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon for New York” from the album Rendezvous (2018) featuring jazz singers Clint Holmes and Dee Dee Bridgewater with The Count Basie Orchestra. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals category for his arrangement of “Be My Muse” on Lorraine Feather’s album Flirting with Disaster (2015), as well as his arrangement of “What a Wonderful World” on Gloria Estefan: The Standards (2014), and “Out There” on Lorraine Feather’s Tales of the Unusual (2013). He was also nominated for a Grammy as co-producer of Gloria Estefan: The Standards in the Best Traditional Pop Album category.
Other recent recording and arranging projects include Seal's Standards, Clint Black's Rendezvous, Arturo Sandoval’s Grammy-winning Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You) and Latin Grammy-winning A Time for Love, Reneé Fleming’s Christmas in New York with Friends, and Ray Sings, Basie Swings (Concord).
Berg is artistic advisor for Jazz Roots at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, musical director of The Jazz Cruise, and host of the show Generation Next on Real Jazz Sirius XM. He has appeared on numerous NPR radio broadcasts for Jim Cullum's Riverwalk Jazz series.
Shelly Berg has performed, recorded and arranged for renown jazz vocalists Patti Austin, Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Carmen Bradford, Tierney Sutton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lizz Wright, Cassandra Wilson, Lorraine Feather, Monica Mancini, and Dionne Warwick, and performed and/or recorded with a "Who's Who" of jazz legends including Ray Brown, Louie Bellson, John Clayton, Eddie Daniels, Peter Erskine, Dave Finck, Branford Marsalis, Gregg Field, Chuck Berghofer, Dave Grusin, Woody Herman, Arturo Sandoval, Tom Scott, Clark Terry, and Bill Watrous to name just a few. A finalist in the 1988 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Berg has recorded over 30 disks for the Yamaha Disklavier piano.
His composing and orchestrating for television includes ABC’s Fudge, CBS’s A League of Their Own, and HBO’s Dennis Miller Live. He has performed on television with Zac Brown, Mark Anthony, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Garth Brooks, Tricia Yearwood, Prince Royce, Patti LaBelle, Mariah Carey, and has orchestrated for Chicago, KISS, Carole King, Richard Marx, Joe Cocker, Elliott Smith, Lou Rawls, Steve Miller, Yoshiki, X Japan, and others.
Film orchestration work includes Warner Bros. Almost Heroes and For Your Consideration, Fox’s Men of Honor, and the NBC mini-series The ’60s. He has written for the Royal Philharmonic, the American Symphony, and orchestras worldwide. He composed the theme song to the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, and orchestrated Anniversary for the 10th anniversary of the coronation of Japan’s Emperor Akihito. His orchestrations are called “magnificent. . . incredible” by Johnny Mandel.
Shelly Berg is the dean of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, a position he has held since June 2007. In addition to his leadership role as dean, he is the Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music and teaches classical improvisation classes and private piano students. He previously held the McCoy/Sample professorship of Jazz Studies in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California where he taught for 16 years. He is a past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), and was named 2003 Educator of the Year by the Los Angeles Jazz Society. In 2002, Shelly was the recipient of the IAJE Lawrence Berk Leadership Award. In 2000, the Los Angeles Times named him one of three “Educators for the Millennium.” He has appeared as a performer and lecturer throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico, Europe, Japan, and Israel.
Berg has numerous compositions for jazz ensemble in publication, and his texts include the Chop-Monster improvisation series, Essentials of Jazz Theory, and Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (Alfred Publishing), and Jazz Improvisation: The Goal-Note Method (Kendor Music).
Photographer: Wolfgang Schottstaedt
Musician: Shelly Berg
Location: The Jazz Cruise