Primary Instrument: Piano
Mark Berman is a much sought after pianist, composer, arranger, orhestrator and music director. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, where his dad, Arnold “Sonny Berman, a well known trumpet player and big band leader, taught the young musician classics like “Moonglow” by playing notes on the horn which he would expect his son to then chord out on the piano. The younger Berman recalls some early piano pounding at age five, followed by a lifelong love of Miles Davis, Glenn Miller, Count Basie. You name it, he heard it from his dad and all the other musicians in the family. These included his cousin, another Sonny Berman, a star trumpeter with Woody Herman’s famed Thundering Herd. Great-uncle Harry Berman was the conductor of the New Haven Symphony and his cousin Bill Rhein was the youngest member of the New York Philharmonic.
A graduate of the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, Berman has written for, played and recorded with the proverbial who’s who of jazz, pop and rock. His fun to read resume reads like a history of modern music: Illinois Jacquet, Jackie McLean (one of his former teachers), Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Wycliff Gordon, Mark Murphy, Betty Buckley, Hilary Kole, Houston Person, Nana Mouskouri, Petula Clark, Cornelius Bumpus, Lesley Gore, Gladys Knight, Hugh Jackman, Ben E King, Buster Poindexter, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Richie Havens, Phoebe Snow, Helen Reddy, Jennifer Holliday, Morris Pleasure and Phil Ramone, among many others.
Berman, who has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show” and “Rosie O’Donnell,” has also been a powerful presence on Broadway, where he has conducted orchestras for Rent, Smokey Joe's Cafe and Blood Brothers and played lead piano on The Boy From Oz, Hairspray, The Life, 42nd Street, Dreamgirls, Rent and Jesus Christ Superstar, and the recent revival of Hair in Central Park. He also served as conductor and music director for several productions at the renowned Westport Country Playhouse under artistic directors Joanne Woodward and Annie Keefe. His orchestrations and arrangements were featured in Marcy in the Galaxy, a world premiere musical by Nancy Shane presented by the Drama Desk Award winning Transport Group, and Berman is currently at work composing as well as arranging music for a new Broadway musical by Marilyn Michaels and her son Mark Wilk, which is aiming at a 2010 bow.
But Berman didn’t truly enter pop culture glory until he played piano on the world famous theme to “Sex And The City, for which he also composed music. He has scored work for Showtime's “Nurse Jackie,” starring Edie Falco, and Royal Pains for USA starring Mark Feuerstein, as well as other television programs. His film scoring credits are numerous, and he was recently featured on PRI's syndicated radio program Studio 360 hosted by Kurt Andersen.
Berman has played such notable venues as The Blue Note, Birdland, The Rainbow Room, The Supper Club, Merkin Hall and Carnegie Hall. His highly acclaimed début recording, The Genesis Project, which he wrote (music and lyrics), arranged and produced, was released on October 30, 2007 at Birdland in New York City, to a sold out crowd and rave reviews. Personnel on the album include Berman on piano and keys; Cary Potts and Paul Adamy on bass; Clint DeGanon and Rocky Bryant on drums; Ted Nash and Aaron Heick on saxophone; William Galison on harmonica; and J.J. McGeehan on guitar, along with singers LaTanya Hall, Emily Bindiger, Margaret Dorn, Bill Mitchell and Billy Stritch. The live release also included guest Ray Marchica on drums and vocalist Darryl Tookes. Modern Drummer magazine says of The Genesis Project: “ . . . Berman shines as composer, keyboardist and arranger, bridging jazz, R&B and Gospel.”
“Berman, on piano, lays down all the right notes and chords with masterly musicianship . . .” WNTI-FM
“Wonderful and exciting.” Lesley Gore
“Brilliant.” Mike Metheny, RadioMike
“The latest from Mark Berman is great listening.” KMFB-FM
“Stylishly interpreted.” Variety
“Witty, engaging.” SmoothVibes.com
“Cool jazz with a universal message.” Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos