An internationally active jazz pianist, composer, educator and researcher, Cliff Korman has developed numerous projects featuring American and Brazilian musicians, presenting a variety of original compositions and arrangements. His understanding of the diversity of sound, instrumentation and harmonic patterns of Brazilian music of the twentieth century has led him to continuously explore the complex interconnections that link the musics of the Americas.
Among his recordings, Migrations (Planet Arts, 2005) garnered critical acclaim from Jazz Times, Cadence Magazine and Ben Ratliff in The New York Times.
His duo record Mood Ingênuo: Pixinguinha Meets Duke Ellington (Jazzheads, 1999) with Grammy Award winner Paulo Moura represents one of the first cross-cultural explorations of jazz and choro. Korman produced several CDs including Entre Amigos (Chesky, 2003) which pairs Brazilian vocalist Rosa Passos with American bass master Ron Carter. Since his first travels to Brazil, he has performed and recorded with many Brazilian artists including Astrud Gilberto, Toninho Horta, and Leny Andrade, and was featured in a two-piano production with Wagner Tiso and Milton Nascimento at the International Festival of MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) in São Paulo.
Korman's most recent work includes Trains of Thought, a collection solo piano improvisations, the duo series Empatia, and Gafieira Jazz, a sextet which draws on the exciting ballroom dance and jazz traditions of Rio de Janeiro.
In 2013 the Savassi Festival commissioned him a piece for jazz symphonic orchestra: Interventions was presented at the Palácio das Artes in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
As a scholar and researcher, Korman has long focused on the history and notion of "improvisation" which he began to explore in an essay on Thelonious Monk (Annual Review of Jazz Studies, 2000). He continued to work on the theme in "Jazz & Brazilian Instrumental Music: Common Roots, Divergent Paths" (Jazz Research Roundtable, Rutgers University, 2000), “Choro: Brazilian Popular Instrumental Improvised Music” (IAJE convention, 2003), and "Pushing at Boundaries: The Path of a Brazilian Instrumentalist" (Journal of Contemporary Studies in Improvisation, 2011), and "Improvisation in the jazz symphonic orchestra" which was also the theme of his doctoral dissertation.
Korman is a Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais and music director of the Instituto Paulo Moura which has recently digitized the Paulo Moura’s archive. He was awarded a Chamber Music America Residency Grant (2006-07) and a Fulbright Lecture/Research grant to Brazil (1999). He coordinated Brazilian Studies at the Manhattan School of Music and developed the tutorial book "Inside the Brazilian Rhythm Section" in collaboration with Brazilian guitarist Nelson Faria (Sher Music) which used by teachers and students worldwide.