The 15th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival takes place from Oct. 11-20,
in various venues throughout the city’s Upstreet Cultural District
A signature event of the fall foliage season in the Berkshires, festival highlights include a rare pairing of mother-daughter vocalists Stephanie Nakasian and Veronica Swift; Cuban piano standout Dayramir Gonzalez; jazz prodigy Anton Kot; a “jazz crawl” that features local musicians in downtown venues; jazz brunches; and more.
Things kick off on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 11-12, with the Jazz crawl, where many restaurants and lounges will be featuring Berkshires-based musicians. In previous years, as many as a dozen different groups and venues have participated. Known more casually as “Jazz About Town,” the schedule will be announced one week prior to kickoff.
On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Anton Kot, a 16-year-old pianist and drummer, will make his Berkshires debut in the annual Jazz Prodigy Concert. From Milford, Connecticut, Kot was a discovery of the Litchfield Jazz Camp, which provides a nurturing environment for budding talent. The Jazz Prodigy Concert features a young artist who has not been recorded commercially and who is expected to become a force in jazz. Sponsored by the Friends of the Athenaeum, the concert starts at 7pm at the Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave. Admission is free.
Headline weekend starts on Friday, Oct. 18, with another prodigious piano talent, Dayramir Gonzalez and his quartet. A Cuban jazz pianist, composer, arranger and music visionary, Gonzalez has appeared at leading jazz venues worldwide, He will be performing on the Steinway at the Berkshire Museum, 39 South Street. His group includes Dean Torrey, bass; Juan Chiavassa, drums; and Arturo Stable, a master Cuban percussionist and composer.
The keystone event of this 15th annual festival features a rare pairing of legendary vocalist Stephanie Nakasian, a Berkshire favorite, with her daughter, Veronica Swift, the fastest-rising vocalist on the jazz scene today. The show includes material from Swift’s newest release, Confessions. The Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble will open.
At just 25 years old, Veronica Swift has built a résumé that many late-career jazz singers would envy: tours as a featured vocalist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chris Botti; a guest collaboration with Michael Feinstein; engagements at A-list clubs like Birdland, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, and The Jazz Showcase; and headlined at top festivals including Monterey, Montreal and Telluride. As a child, she began performing with her musician parents, the late pianist Hod O’Brien, and the singer/educator/author Stephanie Nakasian, and in 2015, she earned second place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, the most prestigious contest in the art form. Her command of the vocal-jazz tradition is astounding, as was demonstrated at last year’s Pittsfield CityJazz Festival. Swift so impressed the audience that she is the only performer ever invited back for a second consecutive year.
Known as one of the world’s leading jazz singers, Stephanie Nakasian will take you on a fresh and authentic swing voyage that transcends the Great Ladies of Song in both tribute and originality. Capturing the hearts of audiences with her extensive repertoire, reaching from Jazz to Broadway, Nakasian creates an atmosphere of romance and excitement that will transport listeners to another place and time. It will be Nakasian’s third appearance in Pittsfield.
Pre-show entertainment will be provided by pianist Ben Kohn at The Garage (the Colonial’s lobby), starting at 6pm.
The big weekend concludes with a jazz brunch on Oct. 20 at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, 444 North Street.
Details will be updated at www.BerkshiresJazz.org, which also has links to the online box office.
Berkshires Jazz, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization, formed in 2009 from the committee that plans and conducts the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival. With a mission of presenting top jazz talent, encouraging jazz education, and promoting the local jazz scene, Berkshires Jazz programs the Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend in Lee each mid-June, and several individual events year-round.
Box office information to be posted shortly. Veronica Swift tickets are available online at the Colonial Theatre.