Herb Berger

chromatic harp / saxophone / composition / arrangement


If you sit in the first row of Jazz Bigband Graz and are onstage with the Vienna Philharmonic, if you have the “Stubn” blues together with Willi Resetarits and play contemporary music with the Klangforum Vienna, if you belong to the country’s jazz elite and compose music for film, theatre and television on the side, then you deserve a label: Herb Berger is one of Austria’s most versatile musicians. Saxophone is the main instrument of the Salzburger, born in 1969. With his debut album “The Bitter End,” he has now also played himself into the elite circle of harmonica virtuosos. The songs on the album, all self-composed compositions from his 20-year career, reflect that same universality of his biography.

The crucial encounter between Herb Berger and the chromatic harmonica happened under a Christmas tree. It lay there as a present. Its sound and its possibilities for tone production fascinated him enormously, so much so that since then the all-rounder has committed himself with total passion to this instrument. “The possibilities for expression are more direct and more sensitive with the harmonica than with the saxophone. The sound lets itself be formed as in singing, the music comes directly from the lips.”

Berger, who held his first clarinet as a seven year old and later studied saxophone and arranging at the Vienna Conservatory, sees his talent to multi-tasking completely unpretentiously. “I’m the prototype of a freelance musician. The possibilities in Austria are not too widely spread around so it was a logical choice to do many different things.” Among those were also international appearances and projects with Ray Charles, Take 6, Jon Hendricks, Kurt Elling, Herb Ellis and James Morrison, to name just a few.

What, with all the ability for change, is here the quintessence? It’s the passion for jazz, “the incentive to be creative in a moment, to communicate and at the same time to have plenty of space. That results, at the best of times, in beautiful, intense musical moments,” says Herb Berger. Twelve of them are collected on “The Bitter End.”

Current Projects:

As Bandleader/Co-Leader:

Herb Berger 4tet – „The Bitter End“

Sabina Hank & Herb Berger „Since We Met“

As Sideman:

Willi Resetarits „Stubnblues“

Willi Resetarits & Sabina Hank „Abendlieder“

Jazz Bigband Graz

Selected Discography:

Herb Berger: „The Bitter End“ (2010)

Willi Resetarits & Sabina Hank “Abendlieder” (2008)

Willi Resetarits & Stubnblues Allstars: „No so vü” (2009)

Jazz Bigband Graz: „Electric Poetry & Lo-Fi Cookies” (2008)

Sabina Hank: „Music in a Mirror” (2004)

T.C. Pfeiler: „Herb Ellis meets T.C. Pfeiler“