Normally soft-spoken, Shelly Berg can be a real powerhouse when he plays piano. In the past he has shown that he could keep up with Oscar Peterson in his prime, swinging just as hard and with comparable technique while displaying his own musical personality. "Blackbird" generally has slower tempoes (with a couple exceptions) but it is just as impressive. Teamed with bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Gregg Field, Berg performs jazz standards plus the Beatles "Blackbird" (which in this version starts in seven/four time before becoming a blues), a particularly inventive rendition of Pat Metheny's "Question and Answer," Stevie Wonder's "Blame It on the Sun," Billy Joel's "She's Always a Woman" (which with this treatment really sounds like a jazz piece) and two of his originals. Berg turns all of the material into swinging jazz and sounds relaxed at every tempo. Because he is based in Los Angeles and spends much of his time as an educator, Berg tends to be underrated or overlooked. Blackbird shows that he is well worth discovering for Shelly Berg is one of the finest pianists around in the early 21st century playing modern mainstream jazz.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow