Dialogues

It was inevitable that Dan Berkson would make a jazz album like Dialogues: joyful, danceable, entertaining, driven by the pleasure principle, and filled with virtuosity. It represents Berkson's experiences in London, where jazz is a living, breathing, dancing scene. It’s his love letter to the city, bristling with British talent such as Andrea di Biase and Jon Scott and recorded in his final days in the city. It’s rich with history: the musical journey that brought him to this point covers almost 40 years and 4,000 miles.

Berkson received lessons from Chicago boogie-woogie veteran Erwin Helfer - who in turn learned alongside foundational legends Mahalia Jackson and Glover Compton. He came to the UK in 2001 after studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and threw himself into the deep house scene of East London, signing his duo with James What to Steve Bug's legendary Poker Flat.

But eventually he felt that he'd achieved what he could in the house format. Rediscovering the piano and discovering that jazz provided him the opportunity to keep learning, he enrolled in Trinity Laban Conservatoire in South London just as South London's jazz scene was exploding into the public consciousness.

Dialogues is a jazz album, not an electronic one – but all the groove-based influences, from the rootsy blues and gospel of his youth, through the funk he played at college and the house he imbibed in London can be heard, as can his love of the studio as an instrument and mixdowns that suit a club soundsystem. Detroit dons Theo Parrish and Moodymann are every bit as important to this record as Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, and Herbie Hancock. There’s 50s and 60s cool modernism (just listen to the elegant ripples of “Sketches”), there’s 70s funk fusion (“Unity” kicks things off with a spring in its step), and of course there’s the pumping blues heart of “Live Bait”. Above all else, though, it's a personal document: a life of music and collaboration crystalised in a magical, transitional moment. Where Dan goes next musically is as uncertain as anything in these times... but this one record tells you everything you need to know about where he's been.

The album will be release on Freestyle Records on 10 September on LP and all digital formats.

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1

Unity

Dan Berkson, Andrea Di Biase Jon Scott, Magnus Pickering, Alam Nathoo & Daniel Sadownick

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2

Momentum

Dan Berkson, Andrea Di Biase & Jon Scott

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3

Maggie's Last Day

Dan Berkson, Andrea Di Biase, Magnus Pickering & Jon Scott

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4

Live Bait (for Dave Wickins)

Dan Berkson, Andrea Di Biase & Jon Scott

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5

Remember Me

Dan Berkson, Andrea Di Biase & Jon Scott

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6

Sketches

Dan Berkson, Andrea Di Biase & Jon Scott

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7

The Court

Dan Berkson, Andrea Di Biase & Jon Scott

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Dialogues

(ModelMaker, 2015)

Berkson & What’s acclaimed LP Keep Up Appearances is available on Spotify and iTunes.