Celebrating Buddy Rich’s centennial with the Greg Caputo Big Band

If you ask 10 jazz fans to name the greatest big-band drummer of all time, chances are that 8 or 9 of the responses will be “Buddy Rich.” An icon of speed, precision, and taste, Rich still has a worldwide following, 30+ years after his passing. Berkshires Jazz is celebrating his 100th birthday year with a concert on July 22, featuring the big band of drummer Gregory Caputo.

Caputo has always served as a great ambassador for classic swing and big band jazz. His credits include stints with Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Harry James, Nelson Riddle, Benny Goodman, Sheila Jordan, Sammy Davis Jr., and countless world class jazz artists. Local fans remember his appearance in Lee with NEA Jazz Master Phil Woods, which turned out to be Woods’ final appearance in the Berkshires.

His big band is a who’s-who of jazz musicians. Called the “keeper of the big band flame” by Jazz Times magazine, Greg’s repertoire is always presented with great precision and spirit. Classic Drummer magazine describes Greg as “a master drummer who speaks volumes in refined sensibilities and superb technique.” An inductee into the National Jazz Archives, he is also on the faculty of UMass’ highly-regarded Jazz In July program.

Fasten your seat belts for a great evening of some of the finest big-band material you’ve ever heard.

The concert is on Saturday, July 22, 7pm, at the Lee Meeting House (Lee Congregational Church), 25 Park Place in the Berkshire Gateway town of Lee, Mass. A stunning venue, both acoustically and visually, a great place to hear a big band. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the event. Click here for online box office.

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Centennial Celebrations of Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk highlight 2017 programs

After a whirlwind 2016, Berkshires Jazz is even more active this year, starting with our “10 Flavours” performance by the Dechamplains on Feb. 25, and highlighted by centennial salutes to three jazz giants: Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald. Two of these are part of two separate jazz festivals, and the third is a standalone event.

This is our most active year ever, so please mark your calendar, and return here for box office information and updates. The schedule, as it now stands:

May 13: Mary Ann McSweeney Quartet, plus guest vocalist Natalia Bernal. The Urban Fado Project. A great turnout at the Whitney Center for the Arts.

June 15-18: Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend (in collaboration with Berkshire Gateway Preservation, Inc.)

Aug. 12: Images of Monk: a centennial salute, the Ted Rosenthal Quintet

Oct. 6-15: Pittsfield CityJazz Festival

  • Oct. 13: Veronica Swift (rising vocalist, daughter of Stephanie Nakasian and the late Hod O’Brien)
  • Oct. 14: The Dizzy Gillespie Afto-Cuban Experience

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