Drummer Berkowitz Builds New Gene Krupa Orchestra

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
New Gene Krupa Orchestra in Hackettstown
By Bill Nutt, Correspondent 2:33 p.m. EDT July 11, 2014

"Gene was the first superstar drummer," says Michael Berkowitz.

Under Berkowitz's leadership and drumming, the New Gene Krupa Orchestra plays jazz compositions that are faithful to the original arrangements.

"When I was in 8th grade, I met Gene," he says. "I was totally enamored of his playing."

Berkowitz would go on to a career in music, where he accompanied such artists as Marvin Hamlisch, Liza Minnelli, Quincy Jones and Nelson Riddle. About 10 years ago, however, he got the idea to create an orchestra dedicated to Krupa's music.

He then approached Krupa's estate to work out licensing and other issues. Once he received permission from the family, Berkowitz had the challenge of finding the original arrangements.

"The problem was that a lot of his music was lost in a fire," Berkowitz says. "So many memories were destroyed."

He then took on the role of detective, tracking down original scores and charts.

"Every time Gene played a song, it was new. That's what jazz is about. To simply reproduce it is anti-music."

"What we try to do is evoke his sound," Berkowitz says.

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