“Berkman doesn’t rely on old formulas and he isn’t risk-averse. In his tunes, harmonies flow in unanticipated directions, silences open suddenly like trap doors, and quirky rhythmic displacements keep both listeners and bandmembers on their toes (His) music is also full of romance, mystery and good spirits.” — Ed Hazel, JazzIz magazine

Biography (short)

David Berkman has been an essential part of the New York jazz scene for over 30 years, as a creative and swinging voice on the piano and as a gifted composer, arranger and bandleader.  Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he currently divides his time between teaching in N.Y. and performing with world renowned jazz artists at home and abroad. Berkman has performed with numerous jazz luminaries including: Sonny Stitt, Tom Harrell, Brian Blade, the Vanguard Orchestra, Cecil McBee, Dave Douglas and Chris Potter. His 10 recordings as a leader have appeared on numerous “Critic’s Best” lists. Berkman is a tenured professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music, C.U.N.Y. in New York and has published three books on jazz with Sher Music Publishing which are used in jazz schools worldwide.

Biography (long)

David Berkman has been an essential part of the New York jazz scene for over 30 years, as a creative and swinging voice on the piano and as a gifted composer, arranger and bandleader.

“Berkman is a scintillating composer and improviser…” —Steve Futterman, Entertainment Weekly

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Berkman is an award-winning composer/bandleader, a recording artist whose 10 recordings as a leader have appeared on numerous best records of the year critic’s lists (the New York Times, the Village Voice, Downbeat, JazzIz, Jazz Times and others)

“…an often stunning collection of great melodies and intelligent improvisations.” — Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant on Berkman’s “Handmade”

and an accomplished jazz educator—as both a tenured professor in Jazz Studies at Queen’s College in New York and as a jazz clinician who has taught at numerous camps, universities and conservatories around the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. He has played in countless bands including those of Cecil McBee, Tom Harrell and the Vanguard Orchestra and has performed with and/or recorded with and/or arranged for numerous jazz luminaries, including: Sonny Stitt, Brian Blade, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Ray Drummond, Billy Hart, Dick Oatts, Chris Potter, Lenny White, Bill Stewart, Fathead Newman, Chris Cheek and Hank Crawford. He has published three books on jazz with Sher Music Publishing, “The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing” (2007)

“I love reviewing various texts about how to play better. This one rings a bell for me. I have played with David, and he's practicing what he preaches. He gives some great suggestions on how to enjoy the process of learning to improvise on any instrument. Thanks, David!”
— Lee Konitz

“The Jazz Singer’s Guidebook” (2009) and “The Jazz Harmony Book” (2014).

Now appearing more and more often as a bandleader, David Berkman has performed solo and with his trio, quartet, quintet and sextet at festivals and clubs in the United States, Europe and Japan.

David Berkman displays commanding compositional capabilities…and (is) an exceptional pianist and improvisor with a personal style marked by intelligence and restraint. These qualities, together with an assiduous avoidance of hackneyed structural strategies, have driven him to create music that is remarkable in the wide range of human feelings it expresses.” —Russ Musto, All About Jazz

Recent tours include: clubs and concert performances in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and around the United States. Recent projects include the New York Standards Quartet (featuring Tim Armacost, Ugonna Okewgo and Gene Jackson—the group just released their 7th CD) and the David Berkman Sextet. His latest CD “Six of One” was released April 2019 on Palmetto Records and includes nine new Berkman compositions, (mostly music for sextet) and features Dayna Stephens, Adam Kolker, Billy Drewes and Tim Armacost on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, EWI, clarinet and bass clarinet; Chris Lightcap on bass, Kenneth Salters on drums and Rogerio Boccato on percussion.

“A piano ace that knows how to give the rest of the crew some, Berkman's touch here is light and easy going, bright throughout and always sprightly giving this tasty set a welcome buoyancy… this is the culmination of a cat that's been at it for over 20 years, never standing still long enough to let grass grow under his feet. A stone cold delight throughout.—Chris Spector, Midwest Record on “Six of One”.

Berkman just recorded his second solo piano CD, a follow up to his 2012 recording, “Self portrait” on Red Piano Records. “Berkman plays Pete Seeger and John Coltrane” is due out in October 2019.