The lineup for the 11th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival is wide-ranging, and includes a first-time pairing of 6-time Grammy winner Randy Brecker with the Greg Hopkins Jazz Orchestra; a return engagement by guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola; our annual “jazz crawl;” a new discovery in our jazz prodigy series, and more.
The festival begins on Columbus Day weekend, with Jazz About Town, the annual jazz crawl featuring local musicians in restaurants and lounges throughout Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District. The Oct. 9-11 weekend concludes with a Sunday jazz brunch.
Jazz Prodigy at Berkshire Athenaeum
The 12-year-old pianist Esteban Castro is this year’s prodigy, thanks to a recommendation from Jazz House Kids. A nationally respected program, Jazz House Kids was also the proving ground for alto saxophonist Zoe Obadaia, who appeared as our Jazz Prodigy in 2013, and went on to Juilliard on full scholarship. Esteban Castro has been a standout participant of the Jazz House Kids program, as New York-area jazz followers are learning. His Pittsfield appearance takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 7pm at the Berkshire Athenaeum. Free admission, sponsored by the Friends of the Athenaeum.
Frank Vignola at Baba Louie’s Backroom, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015
The exciting, creative sounds of jazz guitar will fill Baba Louie’s Backroom on Friday, Oct. 16, starting at 8pm. Frank Vignola is one of today’s most extraordinary guitarists. His stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world’s top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul, who named Vignole to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List” for the Wall Street Journal. Vignola’s jaw- dropping technique explains why the new York Times deemed him “one of the brightest stars of the guitar”.
With more than 1,000 engagements in the last five years alone, Frank Vignola has become one of the most popular and sought after guitarists on the international music scene. He conducts clinics, masterclasses and workshops at music universities all over the world including Juilliard and Boston University. And here in Pittsfield, as well, where he will conduct one program at Reid Middle School, and another public clinic at Wood Brothers Music (Saturday, Oct. 17). Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the event, dinner available separately. Advance purchase strongly advised!
The online box office for Frank Vignola’s Oct. 16 appearance at Baba Louie’s is now closed. There may be a limited number of tickets available at the door, please call 413-841-7718 to confirm.
Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.
Randy ventured into jazz-rock with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears, leaving to join the Horace Silver Quintet. Later, with his brother Michael on saxophone, the Brecker Brothers Band had immeasurable impact and influence, releasing six albums on Arista, garnering seven Grammy nominations between 1975 and 1981.
In 1997, “Into the Sun,” a recording featuring Randy’s impressions of Brazil, earned the trumpeter his first Grammy as a solo artist. His 2008 album “Randy in Brazil” was recorded in Sao Paulo with a full complement of great Brazilian musicians. Chosen one of the top 10 CDs of 2008 by AllAboutJazz.com, the CD won the Grammy for “Best Contemporary Jazz Album,” his fifth of six Grammy Awards under his own name.
As a composer, performer and in-demand Yamaha clinician, Randy Brecker continues to influence and inspire young musicians around the world. He appears as guest soloist with the Greg Hopkins Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, Oct. 17 (Colonial Theatre, 8pm)
Performer, composer, conductor and arranger Greg Hopkins first picked up the trumpet as a boy in Detroit, and to this day it would be hard to spot him without his horn. Hopkins plays even when caught in traffic on commute to Berklee College of Music, where he’s been teaching since 1974 – the year the London Times called him “a real find” for the Buddy Rich Orchestra.
His own 16-Piece Jazz Orchestra CD “Okavongo” is out on the Summit label, as is his quintet CD “Quintology”, featuring Bill Pierce, Mick Goodrick, and Gary Chaffee. His busy teaching and performing schedule takes him all over the world doing concerts, festivals, jazz club dates, and clinics. A Professor of Jazz Composition at Berklee College of Music, Hopkins has developed and teaches several courses in composition and also directs the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra, one of the most prestigious performing ensembles at the school.
Hopkins works often with his 16 Piece Jazz Orchestra, and also performs regularly with his quintet, and Tim Ray’s trio, Tre Corda. He began his professional career in 1965, freelancing in the Detroit area for such acts as the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight.
Most of the festival’s events are free, thanks to underwriting support from The Feigenbaum Foundation, North Coast Brewing Co., TD Charitable Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Crowne Plaza, jazz education pioneer Jamey Aebersold, jazz advocate and educator Brent Banulis, and Dave Read/ReadWebCo.
Jazz About Town – Pittsfield CityJazz Festival Jazz Crawl – Oct. 9-11, 2015
Friday, October 9
- J. Allen’s, 41 North St. | 7-10pm: Andy Kelly Gypsy Jazz
- Flavours, 75 North St. (enter on McKay)|7-10pm: John Sauer and Aaron Dean
- The Rainbow, 109 First St. | 7:30-9:30pm: The Blue Light Trio
Saturday, October 10,
- House of India, 261 North St. | 6-9pm: Andy Kelly, guitar
- J. Allen’s, 41 North St. | 7-10pm Rich Vinette Quintet |
- The Rainbow, 109 First St. | 7:30-9:30pm: Todd McLeod
- Mission Bar & Tapas, 438 North St. | 7-11pm: Andy Wrba and friends
- The Lantern, 455 North St. | 9-11pm: Peter Primamore Quartet
Sunday, Oct. 11
- Hotel on North, 297 North St. \ 11am-1pm: Jazz Brunch with Dave Bartley
Other events of interest, All events free unless noted
Wednesday, October 7,
Friday, Oct. 9
Monday, Oct. 12