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JAZZ CORNER Presents: Josh Berman - Old Idea (2009)


Ahhh, my dear friends with the sly eyes, the fast banter, tight gestures, and ever expanding minds... there’s an old saying that goes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” And while that may be true, when it comes to presentation, my sun shows me something new, off beat, and exciting every day of the year.

Ride with me for a few moments and let me introduce to you Josh Berman, not the cornetist you may be aware of, but Josh Berman the band leader who boldly walks between coasts, calling neither home, but drawing as deeply from both, as much as he draws from the past, and finding a place for those ideas to exist in the present without sounding dated, derivative, or even beholding. I’ve seen Josh before, though I think it would be safer to say that I’ve experienced Josh Berman before, because his style is truly an experience into a realm of music that could easily be considered improvisational, free swinging, or even raucous. Yet even with this groundwork at his core, Josh manages to build and develop his sound, almost sculpting it with a tender hand; carefully, considered, gentle, transparent, and hauntingly luminous.

His work is richly layered, built on that cool blue jazz of the 50’s, reminiscent of that which would back the spoken word of Ken Nordine, yet on top of that he floats the sweetest samplings of free form styles which too many artists seem to let carry them away... whereas Josh manages to hold the reigns with a knowing hand, an experienced head, and has chosen to speak softly, almost cinematically, with a bluesy balance, directly and in a manner that I’ve seldom heard before. This must certainly not have been an easy ride for Josh, who was patient and talented enough to hold back, to age, and wait until he was thirty six to deliver this stunning first release... proving how important it is to learn the lessons of the past before one ventures into the future; and what a future Mr. Berman has carved for himself. The cat is going nowhere but up... up, up, up, like smoke spiraling and twisting over dancing flames... hot, transparent, alive, and gone, all in the blink of an eye.

It would be all too easy for Josh to stretch out his songs, but he controls this aspect of his music as well, mesmerizing in a few moments, with what others dwell on for an entire album side. It seems to me that Josh sees his music differently than others have, and this may be due to the fact that he really didn’t open up until he was twenty two, an aspect that many currently have issues with... but not me, I say, “If the cat can swing, then let the boy roll.”

And all of this from Delmark Records, where is they don’t have it, you don’t need it.

Josh Berman: Cornet
Keefe Jackson: Sax
Jason Adasiewicz: Vibs
Anton Hatwich: Bass
Nori Tanaka: Drums

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
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