Karl Berger

Karl Hans Berger (born March 30, 1935 in Heidelberg, Germany) is a jazz pianist, composer, and educator.

Karl Berger
Birth nameKarl Hans Berger
Born (1935-03-30) March 30, 1935
Occupation(s)Pianist, composer, educator


Berger played piano in Germany when he was ten and worked in his teens at a club in Heidelberg. He learned modern jazz from visiting American musicians, such as Don Ellis and Leo Wright. During the 1960s, he started playing vibraphone and received a doctoral degree in musicology. He worked as a member of Don Cherry's band in Paris. When the band went to New York City to record Symphony for Improvisers, he recorded his debut album as a leader.[1]

With Ornette Coleman and Ingrid Sertso, he founded the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York, in 1972, to encourage students to pursue their own ideas about music. Berger considered Coleman his friend and mentor, and like Coleman he was drawn to avant-garde jazz, free jazz, and free improvisation.[1]

He has worked with Carla Bley, Dave Holland, Lee Konitz, John McLaughlin, Sam Rivers, Pharoah Sanders, Gunther Schuller, Clifford Thornton, the Mingus Epitaph Orchestra, and the Globe Unity Orchestra. He collaborated with Bill Laswell as musical arranger and conductor, thus contributing to albums by Jeff Buckley, Better Than Ezra, Buckethead, Natalie Merchant, Sly & Robbie, Angélique Kidjo, Hōzan Yamamoto, and Shin Terai.


As leader

  • 1966: Karl Berger Quartet (ESP-Disk)
  • 1968: Tune In, KB Quartet, with Carlos Ward, Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell (Milestone)
  • 1971: We Are You, with Allen Blairman
  • 1972: With Silence, with Masahito Sato (Enja)
  • 1974: Peace Church Concerts, with Dave Holland, Ingrid Sertso (CMC)
  • 1976: All Kind of Time, with Dave Holland (Sackville)
  • 1977: Changing the Time, with Ingrid Sertso (Horo)
  • 1979: Seasons Change (Circle) with Lee Konitz
  • 1979: New Moon (Palcoscenico)
  • 1979: Woodstock Workshop Orchestra, with Don Cherry, Oliver Lake, Lee Konitz, Ingrid Sertso a.o (MPS)
  • 1982: Conversations, with R. Anderson, C. Ward, D. Holland, B. Ulmer a.o. (In+Out)
  • 1985: Again+Again, with Hozan Yamamoto (JVC)
  • 1986: Transit, with Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell (Black Saint)
  • 1990: Crystal Fire, with Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell (Enja)
  • 1991: Around, with Santi Debriano, Leroy Williams, Paul Shigihara (Black Saint)
  • 1991: Berger/Shigihara, with Paul Shigihara (Bellaphon)
  • 1991: Moondance Suite, with Ingrid Sertso, Sudpool Ensemble Stuttgart (Bellaphon)
  • 1996: No Man Is an Island, with Jean-Louis Matinier, Ernst Reijseger, Enrico Rava a.o (Knitting Factory)
  • 2001: Stillpoint, with Ingrid Sertso, John Lindberg, Peter Apfelbaum, Tani Tabbal a.o. (Double Moon)
  • 2004: On+On, with Ingrid Sertso (ACR)
  • 2006: Duets 1, with John Lindberg (Between the Lines)
  • 2010: Strangely Familiar, (Tzadik)
  • 2014: Gently Unfamiliar, with Joe Fonda, Harvey Sorgen (Tzadik)
  • 2018: In A Moment, with strings (Tzadik)

As sideman

With Carla Bley

With Anthony Braxton

With Don Cherry

With Conjoint

  • Earprint (Source)

With Theo Jörgensmann

With Lee Konitz

  • Duets (Milestone)

With Bill Laswell

With Kesang Marstrand

  • Bodega Rose

With John McLaughlin

  • Where Fortune Smiles (Pye)

With Charles Mingus

With Pete Namlook

With Ingrid Sertso

  • Dance with It (Enja)
  • What Do I Know (Konnex)

With Clifford Thornton

As producer


  1. Kelsey, Chris. "Karl Berger". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
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