Not surprisingly, my latest jazz experience at Berlin’s A-Trane was great. It was an unusual group of six seasoned musicians performing with young, handsome and talented Italian singer / pianist – Davide Cerreta. Cerreta appeared with the group in a special tribute to the music of Pete Wyoming Bender, a beloved fellow musician.
I sat with a fun and friendly German family – two brothers, their daughters, and a son-in law. None of them lived in Berlin but they united here for a Christmas holiday visit. As usual, the club was at full capacity.
Pete Wyoming Bender and Little Shop of Jazz
Drummer Ernst Bier created a group called the Little Shop of Jazz dedicated to the music of singer and composer Pete Wyoming Bender. Born in France, Bender is part American Indian. He grew up in the US, but later moved abroad and spent much of his life performing in London and Berlin. Although Bender played several instruments, he was primarily a singer and composer whose peers saw him as a visionary. He died from a heart condition.
In 2002, Little Shop of Jazz – Ernst Bier, Mack Goldsbury, Reggie Moore, and Kevin Burrell – released a CD, “Cry Me a River,” featuring Bender’s compositions. American bassist Erik Unsworth and Italian singer Davide Cerreta joined the band at A-Trane to reinterpret the CD and other works by Bender:
- Davide Cerreta – Vocalist
- Mack Goldsbury – Saxophone
- Reggie Moore – Piano
- Eric Unsworth – Bass
- Kevin Burrell – Percussion
- Ernst Bier – Drums
Davide Cerreta is known in Italy for his performances at the Umbria Jazz Festival and Umbria Jazz Winter. The popular jazz singer and pianist plays at clubs and festivals in Berlin and throughout Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. He moved to Germany and is now part of the Berlin jazz scene.
Born in Rome, Cerreta was involved with music at an early age. His idols include B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Frank Sinatra whose “smooth, warm, impassioned voice left a mark on his heart forever”. His style is like Sinatra’s.
Cerreta graduated from Italy’s Domenico Cimarosa Conservatory of Music of Avellino. He concluded his time at the conservatory with a tribute to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, known as the “greatest jazz album of all time”. Cerreta toured South America as a pianist and vocalist for a luxury cruise line, but returned to Rome to participate in the Berklee at Umbria Jazz Clinics.
He created the Berklee Umbria Jazz Award Group of six other musicians and performed at the Umbria Jazz Winter 2017. In Rome he’s the resident pianist and artistic director with “The Room Studios Gallery in Rome, “organizing concerts with some of the best musicians of the Roman Jazz Scene”.
Mark Goldsbury has a distinguished career as a composer and professional musician. He’s performed with many famous musicians. His quartet includes bassist Erik Unsworth and two Berlin musicians Rolf Zielke on piano and Ernst Bier on drums. The group began performing together in 1992.
Goldsbury played with musicians like Red Garland and toured with Cher, the Temptations, Frank Sinatra, and the Supremes. He’s performed with Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Pharoah Sanders, and others. Goldsbury moved to Berlin in 1992.
Reggie Moore is a Berlin-based “pianist-composer-arranger-clinician”. He grew up in NYC as the son of a musician and arranger. Moore toured Japan, the United States, and Europe, recorded two albums, and worked with such renowned jazz greats as Anita O’Day, Johnny Hartman, Betty Carter, Kenny Burrell, and more. Since 1985, Reggie lives in Berlin with his wife, jazz vocalist-composer Cornelia Moore, and their daughter Jessica.
His unique art, which he calls “Communicable Music” and his dedicated teaching at the “Jazz Institute of Berlin” has been a positive influence on the German jazz scene for 20 years.
Erik Unsworth is head of the jazz department at the University of Texas El Paso and a member of the music faculty there. He serves as Professor of String Bass, Electric Bass, Jazz, and Commercial Music studies. Unsworth is a native of Northern New York State and a graduate of Indiana University.
Since moving to El Paso, he performs locally with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, El Paso Pro Musica, the Juarez Symphony Orchestra, and at the Roswell Jazz Festival. He supports a range of world-renowned guest artists.
Born in Newark New Jersey, Burrell “discovered his passion for percussion and drums at the age of ten when he began his formal training”. Kevin joined the Mack Goldsbury Jazz Explosion and is a “creative and empathetic percussionist, who contributes colorful textures to the music he plays”.
Ernst Bier is a German drummer with “heart and soul”. He chatted with the audience and I enjoyed talking with him briefly about Pete Wyoming Bender. Ernst lives for jazz.
He studied from 1976 to 1978 at the Swiss Jazz School Bern and performed and lived in New York City and Florida. During his distinguished career Bier has toured Europe and the US, appeared on TV and radio, and produced many recordings and productions. The list of musicians he has worked with “reads like a who’s who of jazz”.
After returning to Germany, Bier lived in Köln and later Berlin, where he leads a continually running series of jazz workshops. He can be heard on a host of recent internationally-released recordings.
Bye Bye Berlin
Tomorrow I leave Berlin having exhausted my 90 day Schengen visa limit. I’ll so miss the quality and unequaled jazz performances at A-Trane and other clubs here and hope to return….