Sunday, November 08, 2009


Pianist Bertha Hope born on November 8,1936, has been an active force in improvised music since the early 60's. Her long association with pianist/composer Elmo Hope resulted in a host of recorded compositions and arrangements, currently performed by the Elmo Hope Project, in which Bertha is the pianist.

During her long and respectful career, she has continued to present Elmo's music, whether on her recordings or in the many concerts and club appearances she has given. She is also the leader of her own trio (with Walter Booker and Jimmy Cobb), as well as being a member of the group Jazzberry Jam!

She has worked extensively over the years to transcribe many of the Elmo Hope compositions so that they can be performed and in addition, pay tribute to one of “be-bop’s” underrated contributors. To that end, Bertha has formed a working group called ELMOllennium,” which features, Walter Booker (bs), Leroy Williams (dr), Virgil Jones (tr), Charles Davis (ts), Roni Ben-Hur (g), Amy London (guest vocalist).

For a number of years Bertha Hope was an artist-in-residence under the auspices of “The New Jersey State Council on the Arts.” Through that program, she performed in New Jersey state-wide workshops. Some of the musicians with whom she performed during that period were Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Nat Adderley and Philly Joe Jones.

Ms. Hope is also the leader of “The Bertha Hope Trio,” which has toured extensively throughout Japan. She is a composer and arranger with several recordings under her own name: “In Search of Hope” and “Elmo’s Fire” (Steeplechase); “Between Two Kings” (Minor Records) and her latest on the Reservoir label, “Nothin’ But Love.”

Bertha Hope holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education. She currently teaches an advanced jazz ensemble at The Lucy Moses School, and an Introduction to Jazz Program at Washington Irving H.S. which is sponsored by Bette Midler. Her legacy continues as her children carry the musical torch.

Few knew that Bertha was a talented pianist until her 1992 Minor Music release Between Two Kings. She grew up in California, started studying classical piano when she was three, became interested in jazz through the playing of Bud Powell, and in the late '50s worked in Los Angeles clubs with a trio.

Bertha Hope plays.

Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

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