For more than ten years, cornetist, improviser, composer and music presenter Josh Berman has been an essential contributor to Chicago's active improvised music scene. His work encompasses both developing opportunities and forums for presenting improvised music - as co-founder of the critically acclaimed Umbrella Music Group and as vice president and co-curator of the Emerging Improvisers' Organization - and performing in a variety of highly collaborative formats - including as bandleader of his own groups, Josh Berman's Old Idea and Josh Berman and His Gang, and as co-leader of the Chicago Luzern Exchange.
In addition to his work as bandleader, Berman has performed and recorded with some of the most internationally respected improvising musicians and composers in jazz and improvised music: Bill Dixon, Ab Baars, Ken Vandermark, Rob Mazurek, and Jeb Bishop. He is also a frequent collaborator with dance artists; his most recent collaboration with dancer Ayako Kato and musician Jason Roebke was awarded a CROSSCUT grant for New Collaborations in Sound/Movement from Experimental Sound Studio and Links Hall. Berman has toured the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.
In June 2009, Berman and his group Old Idea released their first full length CD/LP, featuring Keefe Jackson (reeds), Jason Adasiewicz (vibes), Nori Tanaka (drums) and Anton Hatwich (bass), on Delmark Records. It received four stars in Downbeat Magazine and Ben Ratliff in the New York Times wrote, "I like the stylish cleanness of 'Old Idea'... It's a record with generous learning but no big attitude. There's space in it, as well as harmonic mobility and gentle humor."