b. 30 March 1949, New York City, New York, USA. Berger took up the trumpet at an early age, studying in the mid-60s at Berklee College Of Music. From there he continued his studies, in composing and arranging, at Ithaca College, the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. He also continued studying trumpet with, among others, Jimmy Maxwell. At the start of the 70s he played in New York City in bands led by Maxwell, Lee Castle and Mercer Ellington, and also spent time with Chuck Israels’ National Jazz Ensemble. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by many noted bands including Thad Jones - Mel Lewis, Lee Konitz, Buddy Rich, Clark Terry, Stanley Turrentine and Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble which Berger has also conducted on numerous occasions, including for recording sessions and A Classical Jazz Christmas on television. Especially attracted to the music of Duke Ellington, Berger has led orchestras gathered together for special performances of his work.
In the mid-90s, Berger composed a substantial amount of new music to be performed in conjunction with Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s ‘The Nutcracker Suite’. The result, The Harlem Nutcracker, extended Ellington’s and Strayhorn’s work until it was about four times the length. This new opus, performed by Berger’s Sultans Of Swing, received rave notices wherever it was performed, including concerts in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and for three successive years in Detroit. Berger, who has also written for films, is a sought-after musical educator and has taught at numerous seats of learning including the Hartt College of Music, New York’s the New School, William Patterson College and the Manhattan School of Music. In 2001, he was appointed Professor of Composition and Arranging for the new Jazz Studies Program at Juilliard School of Music.