Dizzy Gillespie tribute, vocalist Veronica Swift headline Pittsfield CityJazz Festival

Our two marquee events for the 2017 Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival show remarkable range and diversity…from the rapidly rising young vocalist Veronica Swift to a celebration of Dizzy Gillespie. Tickets are now on sale for both events.

Of course, the October 6-15 festival will include the annual “jazz crawl” on Columbus Day weekend, the Jazz Prodigy concert on Oct. 11, jazz brunches, and more. Watch this space for more news.

Friday, Oct. 13, your lucky day

At age 23, Veronica Swift is recognized around the country as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene. In the fall of 2015, she won second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. In 2016, she was asked to perform a concert of her own at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City and she was a guest artist with Michael Feinstein at Jazz at Lincoln Center with the Tedd Firth Big Band and Marilyn Maye and Freda Payne. At the age of 11, she appeared at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Women in Jazz series at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

After finishing her undergraduate degree (in Jazz Voice) at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in December 2016, she moved to New York City, where she started performing every Saturday night at the legendary Birdland Jazz Club, a gig she continues to maintain when she isn’t on the road.

Veronica has been on tour with her parents, the late jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and celebrated jazz singer and educator/author Stephanie Nakasian, who are no strangers to Berkshires audiences. In addition to performing the Great American Songbook and Bebop and Vocalese classics, Veronica is also a passionate devotee of 20s and 30s music.

Her group at the Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival  –her first appearance in the Berkshires– comprises three of the top rhythm players on the New York scene, all of whom have deep Berkshires connections: Miro Sprague, piano; Mary Ann McSweeney, bass; and Conor Meehan, drums.

Veronica will perform in the intimate setting of Flavours of Malaysia, where many a rising jazz artist –as well as those whose star has already ascended– find a welcoming audience. Acoustically and visually, it’s a “happening” scene. For our jazz audience, Flavours is offering special dinner pricing of $15, for your choice among three of their most popular entrees with stir-fry, curry, and vegetarian options. For the show only, tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the show. The doors open at 7:45pm, when the special dinner pricing goes into effect. Open seating, music starts at 8pm.

Make your plans early, it’s sure to be a full house. Book your ticket now, you can choose your entree when you arrive. Tickets are available here.

Saturday, Oct. 14: celebrating Dizzy’s centennial

History has produced its share of great artists and great people, and John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was both.  As a performer, he left behind an incredible record of innovation and inspiration; as a composer, a broad repository of musical masterpieces; and as a man, a legion of friends, colleagues and compatriots who remember him with the same degree of love and esteem they reserve for his work. Those “Dizzy for President” buttons were actually half-serious.

Berkshires Jazz celebrates Gillespie’s 100th birthday with a performance by the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, a 6-piece ensemble led by his long-term bassist John Lee. The group showcases the unique rhythms and well-loved melodies (such as “Manteca” and “Tin Tin Deo”) of Gillespie’s oeuvre of Cu-Bop, which he developed in the 40s and 50s with Chano Pozo. That music rings every bit as fresh today, which is why jazz ensembles around the world are still performing it.

And, the expanded repertoire of the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience also explores the broader world of Latin-American music–the tunes that Dizzy likely would be playing today.

The musicians are drawn from the high-caliber pool of New York-based talent that frequent the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and All-Star groups, including trumpeter Freddie Hendrix (photo at right), saxophonist Sharel Cassity, Brazilian pianist/vocalist Abelita Mateus, drummer Tommy Campbell and percussionist Roger Squitero. They perform with energy, verve, and style, putting their own fresh stamp on a well-known genre.

Our all-star youth ensemble opens the musical proceedings at 7:30pm. Tickets are $23-38, and are available here.

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Discount tix for Hot Summer Swing Bash benefit Berkshires Jazz

Saturday, August 26, 3:00pm-8:00pm the HOT SUMMER SWING BASH (rocks and) rolls into Ski Butternut in Great Barrington. There’s some great jazz and swing music in store, including the Squirrel Nut Zippers, local bands, and a discount on tickets, to boot.

The sponsors, Berkshire Bash, are offering an exclusive, special discount offer for friends of Berkshires Jazz that is also a fund-raiser for us. Your ticket is just $30 ($10 off per ticket, which is normally $40), and $5 of that ticket goes directly to Berkshires Jazz. When purchasing your ticket, use code:  JAZZ and Berkshire Bash remits $5 per ticket to us!

The day-long festival features national headliner SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS, and local favorites THE LUCKY 5 and BLUE LIGHT TRIO.  This family-friendly, fun-filled day also includes ROGER THE JESTER and more kids activities courtesy of United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County.

Squirrel Nut Zippers’ music is a high-energy fusion of Delta blues, gypsy jazz, 1930s era swing, klezmer and other styles. Originally formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, their one-of-a-kind sound ranges in influence from Harlem Hot Music to the sounds of Cab Calloway, Johnny Ace, Raymond Scott, Fats Waller, and Django Reinhardt.

Food options include delicious Indian cuisine from Chef Express, SoCo Creamery, and beer & wine from Lefty’s Brewing.  Bring a blanket, a picnic and the whole family!

Tickets and more info:  berkshirebash.com