by Peter Aaron
Chronogram would like to congratulate Karl Berger and Ingrid Sertso, who yesterday were presented with the Jazz Journalists Association’s esteemed Jazz Heroes Award for their tireless dedication to keeping jazz and creative music alive over the course of their lengthy careers.
In 1971 composer, vibraphonist, and pianist Berger, vocalist Sertso, and legendary composer and saxophonist Ornette Coleman cofounded Woodstock’s Creative Music Studio, which became the premier study center for contemporary creative music during the 1970s and 1980s. The birthplace of what came to be called “world jazz”—the genre-fusing concept of blending ethnic musical traditions with contemporary improvised styles—CMS, which closed in 1984, has proved indelibly influential for generations of musicians via the revelations put forth in its master classes, workshops, concerts, and jam sessions. Among the dozens of important musicians from around the world who taught, studied, and performed at the facility were Donald Cherry, Dave Holland, Carla Bley, Jack DeJohnette, Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Giuffre, Wadada Leo Smith, the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Pat Metheny, George Lewis, Lee Konitz, Nana Vasconcelos, Oliver Lake, John Cage, Ed Blackwell, and Cecil Taylor.
In 2008 I interviewed Berger about the ongoing effort to digitize the hundreds of hours of live music taped at CMS back in the day. Read that interview here.
Here’s a cool clip of Berger’s Improvisers Orchestra, featuring Sertso on vocals, at New York’s El Taller gallery last month:
More information on the Creative Music Studio can be found at Creativemusicstudio.org.