Boomkat Product Review:
Along with Ornette Coleman and Ingrid Sertso, Karl Berger co-founded the Creative Music Studio (CMS) in Woodstock, New York during the 1970s. Additionally, he's been a noted member of the free-jazz community and a renowned academic, occupying positions at Frankfurt's Hochschule and serving as head of the music department at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
Previously best known for his work as a collaborator, on Strangely Familiar Berger steps out on his own, recording seventeen solo piano miniatures. Taking the form of "a series of variations and etudes", this album is a meditative traipse through this seasoned musician's very instinctive improvising repertoire. Harmonically, Strangely Familiar is firmly rooted in the innately exploratory world of jazz, though these recordings are anything but coldly experimental. It's fascinating to listen as this veteran performer/composer feels his way around the pieces, carving out new melodic patterns, often within a meandering freetime framework. The album concludes on a particular high point, with 'Miniature 17' - one of the more rhythmically switched-on of these variations - finding Berger darting about the keyboard in a playfully regimented fashion.