Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Berger, David (Jerrold)

Berger, David (Jerrold), composer, trumpeter; b. New York City, 30 March 1949. He was born at the Manhattan Woman's Hospital on Amsterdam Avenue and 114th Street. His father was Sidney Berger (1919-2001, born NYC) and his mother was Nannette Daniels Berger (1924-2003, born NYC), the latter an amateur pianist who taught David how to read music and chord changes. The family moved to Merrick, NY in September 1951. He has three siblings, Robert (b. 1952), an amateur guitarist and singer, Malcolm (b. 1954) and Elizabeth Berger Blatt (b. 1961).

David attended Ithaca College for a BM, Theory/Composition (1967-71) and the Manhattan School of Music, receiving an MM in Jazz Composition (1985-86). He did additional studies at the Eastman School of Music (1967-81) and Berklee College of Music (1966).

He privately studied composition, musical criticism and aesthetics with Edward Green (1986-89); composition with Ludmila Ulehla (1978-79); composition and arranging with Rayburn Wright (1970-71); and trumpet with James Maxwell (1972-1980), with whom he worked on improvisation method books.

He first played trumpet with big bands, but has worked most often as a composer and orchestrator, collaborating on albums and with the bands of Gerry Mulligan, Clark Terry, Buddy Rich, Chuck Israels, Quincy Jones, Lee Konitz, Mercer Ellington, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.

He became known as a composer/arranger with an expertise in classic swing era recordings. Conductor and arranger for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from its inception in 1988 through 1994, Berger has transcribed more than 700 full scores of classic recordings including over 500 works by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

In 1996 Berger collaborated with choreographer Donald Byrd to create the Harlem Nutcracker. The 15-piece band assembled to play this show has stayed together as David Berger and the Sultans of Swing playing Mr. Berger's music.

He continues to work closely with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center on many projects (including conducting and arranging many concerts with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Competition, the Marsalis on Music series for PBS, editing Blood On The Fields for Columbia Records and NPR and live performances, and working on the Making the Music series for NPR).

He has taught at various schools and colleges since 1979. He has taught composition and many other jazz subjects at the Manhattan School of Music (1986-93), where he conducted two concerts of Duke Ellington's sacred music in December of 1993 to commemorate the school's 75th anniversary. Two of his extended works, "Marlowe" and "Self Portraits In Blue," were commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts.  He resides in New York City where he has taught at the Juilliard School since 2001.

He was married to Susan Taylor and Zoe Randall and has two children, Caleb (b. 1983) and Kathryn (b. 1985).

Jazz Composers Alliance Annual Composition Contest, first runner up, 1996.
National Endowment for the Arts, Jazz Composition, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1990, 1995. National Endowment Special Projects (transcription), 1991, 1994.
Duke Ellington Award, 1990.
Downbeat Scholarship, 1966, 1969.
Duke Ellington Scholarship, 1967.

Recordings as leader/composer/arranger/producer:
David Berger and the Sultans of Swing (Such Sweet Thunder): Harlem Nutcracker, Doin' The Do, Marlowe, Hindustan; Conductor/transcriber: Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (Columbia): Portraits by Ellington, The Fire Of The Fundamentals and They Came to Swing; Conductor/transcriber/arranger: Jon Hendricks (Denon): Freddie Freeloader; Compositions, arrangements, compositions, trumpet playing and conducting: recorded for labels including: RCA, Polydor, MCA, Concord, Geffen, Muse, East West, Circle, DMP, Golden String, Groove Merchant, The Smithsonian Collection, Chiaroscuro, Fat Note.

Alfred, 10 transcriptions and 4 arrangements.
Kendor, 6 original compositions.
Classic Editions, over 100 complete score transcriptions (nearly all Ellington and Strayhorn), 14 arrangements and 25 original compositions.  Some of this material was previously available from other publishers.
Hal Leonard, 3 transcriptions and 2 original compositions.
Warner Bros., 40 transcriptions.
Advance Music, 3 original compositions.
Jazz Heritage, 7 original compositions.
Norton Scores, transcription of Ellington's Ko-ko.
Chas. Colin, Contemporary Jazz Play-Along Series (30 etude books with corresponding cassette tapes).

Transcriptions from Recordings:
Over 700 complete score transcriptions, including more than 500 Ellington and Strayhorn compositions.

Music Journalism:
Sheet Music Magazine, monthly column on improvisation, 1979-80, later reprinted in the Sheet Music Handbook.
Brass Player, tri-monthly column on arranging for brass, 1985-87, Braggin' In Brass, 1994.
Brass Journal, J.J. Johnson: Translating Bebop to the Trombone, 1986.        
Keyboard Classics, Ellington Piano Intros, There Was Nobody Looking, 1995, Piano Intros, 1999, numerous piano arrangements.

Jazz Bands:
Duke Ellington, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Quincy Jones, Buddy Rich, Clark Terry, Chuck Israels National Jazz Ensemble, Mel Lewis, Grover Mitchell, The Dukesmen, Lee Konitz Nonet, Bill Watrous, World's Greatest Jazz Band, Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble, American Jazz Orchestra, New York Jazz Repertory Co., Larry Ridley's Jazz Legacy Ensemble, Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Cab Calloway Orchestra.
Jazz Soloists:
Wynton Marsalis, Stan Getz, Phil Woods, Jim Hall, Art Farmer, Roy Eldridge, Max Roach, Jon Faddis, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Thad Jones, Budd Johnson, Buddy DeFranco, Stanley Turrentine, John Lewis, Bob James, Roland Hanna, Toots Thielmans, Jay McShann, Bennie Wallace, Andy LaVerne.
Jon Hendricks, Aria Hendricks, Betty Carter, Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, Natalie Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Champian Fulton, Siedah Garrett, Milt Grayson, Priscilla Baskerville, Cab Calloway, William Warfield, Carrie Smith, Mary Martin, Ray Walston, Anthony Perkins, Phoebe Snow, Carol Channing, Leslie Uggams, Andrea McArdle, Susannah McCorkle, Chad Mitchell, Hildegarde, Ann Hampton Callaway, Chris Calloway Brooks, Institutional Radio Choir.
The Great Debaters, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Cotton Club, The Last Days of Frankie the Fly, Fat Chance, Virus, Dribble, Milo and Otis.
Broadway Theater:
Sophisticated Ladies, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Jerry's Girls.
Tonight Show starring Jay Leno (NBC), Live from Lincoln Center: A Classical Jazz Christmas, Peer Gynt Suite, Nutcracker Suite (PBS), Liberty Weekend (ABC), Broadway Showstoppers (PBS), American Masters--Neil Simon (PBS), Merv Griffin, City of Jazz (PBS), Thanksgiving Day Parade (ABC), Marsalis on Jazz (PBS), Sophisticated Ladies (Bravo).
Making the Music (NPR), Jazz from Lincoln Center (NPR)
Dance Companies:
Alvin Ailey, Joffrey Ballet, Donald Byrd, NYC Ballet.
Symphony Orchestras:
New York, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Atlanta, Memphis, Syracuse, French National.
Nestle, Lincoln Mercury, Nabisco, Coca Cola, NBC.
As Trumpet Player: 
Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, Lee Konitz Nonet, National Jazz Ensemble, Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble, Tito Puente, Lee Castle and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Larry Elgart, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, recordings, TV, jingles and industrials.
Live From Lincoln Center(PBS-TV): A Classical Jazz Christmas, 1989.
Tonight Show starring Jay Leno, 1992, 1996, The Late Show starring David Letterman, 2001.

Many articles, including a NY Times article in 1994

Contact information:
225 Duke Ellington Boulevard, Apt #12J
New York, NY 10025
phone/fax: 212-866-2793

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