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The Williamstown Jazz Festival returns to Williams College from Wednesday, April 29 through Wednesday, May 6. From Big Bands, Dance Parties and gospel groups to Quartets and Trios, there is something for everyone who loves jazz. While many events are free, some have moderate ticket prices. Many venues will be hosting festival-related events, including ’62 Center, The Clark, MASS MoCA, The Orchards Hotel, Spice Root, St. John’s Church and Café Latino. All events are open to the public.
The festival will kick off with the traditional free dance classes taught by Arif Smith and sponsored by the Greylock Federal Credit Union early in the week designed to prepare everyone for the Salsa Dance Party featuring the Nicki Denner Sextet with guest guitarist Freddie Bryant on Friday, May , 8:30 p.m. at MASS MoCA.
The festival will feature multiple college ensembles from NY, CT, RI, OH and local MA colleges who will play in the always ambitious Intercollegiate Jazz Festival, this year to be adjudicated by Virginia Mayhew and John Clark on Friday, May 1 from 12 p.m to 4 p.m. and Saturday, May 2 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at ’62 Center. Gospel Artist Kevin Sharpe will be performing on Friday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m. at St John’s Church and headlining the Festival will be the the Miguel Zenon Quartet on Saturday, May 2 at 8:30 p.m. at ’62 Center. On Sunday, May 3 Guitarist, Jason Ennis will bring his quintet to the Gala Restaurant in the Orchards Hotel for brunch (11am-2pm) and saxophonist/flutist Erik Lawrence will host the Artwalk on Sunday, May 3 at 2 p.m. at WCMA. The Vijay Ayer Trio will perform on Wednesday, May 6 at 8 p.m. at The Clark.
Other events include the silent film Ben-Hur accompanied by the JC Sanford Octet composed of members of the Central NY Jazz Orchestra with a pre-film lecture by Dr. JC Sanford at ’62 Center on Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m., post concert open jam sessions at Cafe Latino (May 1) and Spice Root (May 2) and a jazz brunch featuring the Jason Ennis Quintet at Gala Restaurant on Sunday, May 3, at 11 a.m. Also, artist Peter Bodge will have a show of his jazz inspired linolem print artwork at Cricket Creek Farm and will be giving a walk-through presentation at 4pm on Sunday May 3.
The festival is sponsored by the Williams Dept. of Music, ’62 Center, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Berkshire Bank, Gala, Orchards Hotel, Spice Root, St. Johns, The Williams Inn, Berkshire Hills Motel, Banknorth, Café Latino, JAM, MASS MoCA, Williams College Museum of Art, The High Meadow Foundation, The Mohawk Trail Association, and Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.
More: http://www.williamstownjazz.com; concert hotline: 413-597-3146.
The American Jazz Repertory Orchestra makes its Pittsfield debut on July 2 with a concert at First United Methodist Church that features big-band renditions of Jazz instrumentals, plus a tip-of-the-hat to “the great American song book.” Sponsored by Berkshires Jazz, the 16-piece big band will be supplemented by Berkshires Jazz All-Stars, comprising local standout soloists including Charlie Tokarz, Gary Miller, Andy Kelly, and Vikki True.
The program will be divided into two segments, the first presenting the memorable songs of the big-band era. Performed in both the big band and small-group settings, the songbook set will spotlight the talents of Vikki True, the Berkshires’ top Jazz vocalist. In the second half of the program, the AJRO will play the themes and tunes made popular by Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman. The band plays the original, authentic arrangements of such instrumentals as King Porter Stomp, Four Brothers, Intermission Riff, Woodchoppers Ball, Mood Indigo, and its perennial show-stopper, Sing, Sing, Sing.
The American Jazz Repertory Orchestra is directed by Clem DeRosa, a member of the Jazz Hall of Fame, a big-band drummer and pioneer in Jazz education. During his military career, DeRosa served with one of Glenn Miller’s Air Corps Bands, and later took one of Miller’s “ghost bands” on a tour of European concert and dance dates. He has also taken the legacy band of Benny Goodman on the road.
DeRosa was on the founding faculty of Stan Kenton’s Stage Band Camps (later known as the Kenton Clinics), and was a founder of the International Association for Jazz Education.
The concert gets under way at 7:30pm at First United Methodist Church, 55 Fenn Street, Pittsfield. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door ($15 for students). Further information: 413-442-7718. Video clips of the orchestra are posted at www.AmericanJazzVenues.org.
Berkshires Jazz, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, established in 2009 to present Jazz events and promote Jazz education throughout Berkshire County in western Massachusetts. The organization is also the sponsor of the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival.
Alto sax phenom Grace Kelly, who appeared at both the 2006 and 2007 Pittsfield CityJazz Festivals, has won four 2008 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards: Jazz Soloist, Jazz Vocalist, Extended Composition (101), and Arrangement (I Want To Be Happy). Congratulations, Grace!
The Don Ellis bio-pic, ‘Electric Heart,’ which made its northeast debut at the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival in 2007, will be shown at the 51st annual Monterey Jazz Festival. We’re honored to have been one of the first venues to screen this film. Congratulations to film maker John Vizzusi and to those who brought this interesting story to the silver screen.