Don Berman – Jazz Drummer

by Rasmus Rasmussen on April 27, 2010

Don Berman lives in my building. For years, I watched him carry his drums down to his car every now and then, and on summer days when the windows were open, I would listen to him drum away in his apartment. It never bothered me. He’s that good. Still, it took me literally years of being his neighbor before I finally went and heard him play in his band, Ronin. That’s when I realized that I had to talk to him about his passion for drumming and jazz.

When he’s not playing, Don makes his living as a licensed massage practitioner in Seattle. In the interview, he talks about having a day job versus playing music full time. For him it is an easy and obvious choice — and just another way to work with his hands.

What you hear when Don is playing, is over four decades of experience and degrees in music and percussion performance. It looks like he’s just having a bit of fun, doing this and that as he goes, but there is more to it. Don has graciously allowed Another Passion go give away a free track from Ronin’s forthcoming album, his own composition – “And The Elephant” (mp3, 13.7mb). The album is in post-production right now and will be titled “Outside the Box”.

Don also plays drums on “Wending” (2002, affiliate link) by Jim Knodle & Anansi.

Don’t make the mistake I did. If you’re in Seattle, go check out Ronin or the Don Berman Quartet as soon as possible. They are known to play fairly regularly at Egans in Ballard. Even if you’re not in the area, support the local bands and musicians in your community. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Artt Frank April 29, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Don plays very well, and I like his feel. He displays dynamics and shading in this breif video which leads me to believe that he really knows what’s happenin’. Keep on swingin’ Don,
Artt Frank, longtime favorite drummer of bop/jazz trumpet icon, Chet Baker. (


Mikel T. Rollins April 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm

This is a very cool posting; I have known Don for quite a while as a compatriot on the local scene, and we have some pretty interesting “war stories” that we reminisce on from time to time. It is nice to see him get to expound on some of his thoughts and philosophies regarding music, and he is right on with his honest appraisal of what it is like to be involved in an art form that can be mis-percieved when the commercial aspects enter into consideration.
I would be one of those “other guys” that are referred to, in terms of being willing to perform with various types of ensembles with more commercial aspirations; through various circumstances I have been blessed with opportunities to play music that I can still enjoy and express myself with- even though there still looms the occasional “meat-head” bar gig that can make one wonder at times.
So, kudos on presenting Mr. Berman in such a favorable and intimately cogent piece; I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to future features on this site. Peace. >M<


Emilee Capps April 30, 2010 at 4:32 am

Don is a great guy. I worked with him at Bank of America for many years. I am overjoyed with the article and interview……


tyke April 30, 2010 at 6:04 am

Don is a crazy good master ninja drummer with his brushes, hence his band name Ronin – stay cool! tyke


Emilee Capps April 30, 2010 at 8:03 am


I finally can take you to New York with me…….. Love ya.


Darvel Lloyd April 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm

A very enjoyable article, interview, and short demonstration of Don’s prodigious talent–thank you!

I first met Don through his father, the late and great Bill Berman, whose 7-decade career as a classical violist, violinist, and teacher earned him international esteem. Don graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music while his father was on the faculty there. Some of Don’s passion, deep feelings for music, story-telling ability, and sense of humor were definitely inherited from his father.

I’m looking forward to catching one of Don’s gigs in Seattle some day soon!

Darvel Lloyd
Portland, Oregon


Mark May 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Great editing! Great camera work! Great interview!


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