Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Faces of the Artists Quarter #16

Gary Berg (2006)

 © Andrea Canter

As Pamela Espeland continues her series of commentaries from the musicians and friends of the Artists Quarter, one name pops up over and over -- Gary Berg. Swinging for decades on tenor, alto and soprano sax as well as the chromatic harmonica, nearly everyone who frequented the Artists Quarter over the past 30 years recalls Gary as one of the club's icons, a source of inspiration to young musicians and awe to fans of all ages. He was a standing member of the Tuesday Night Band when organist Billly Holloman headed B-3 Organ Night; he was a sought-after sideman to vocalists like Prudence Johnson, Lucia Newell and Carole Martin, partnered with Clay Moore at Fireside Pizza, and was frequently on the bandstand for such celebrations as New Year's Eve and AQ Birthday gigs-- including his own 70th birthday bash about 5 years ago.

Soulful and hard-bopping, Berg has brought his magic touch to local recordings--Pieces of Dreams by Carole Maritn, This is Organ Night by Billy Holloman, Blanket of Blue by Paula Lammers, Deja Vu by Francine Roche, and The Highest Mountain by George Avaloz.   Notes Jazz Police Chief Don Berryman, “He lets the bop riffs ride on the groove in a way that’s true to the music and the feeling.” 

Gary's still around but we seldom hear that he's playing. His last gigs at the Artists Quarter were 2-3 years ago, but we can still hear his horns echoing across the stage.