We are pleased to announce the lineup for the 14th annual Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival, Oct. 5-14, a cultural highlight of the Fall Foliage season in western New England. Highlights include the annual “jazz crawl,” a jazz prodigy concert; headline performances featuring Veronica Swift (Oct. 12) and Christian McBride (Oct. 13); jazz brunches, and more.
The events all take place within the Upstreet Cultural District, Pittsfield, Massachusetts’ downtown corridor that is rich with visual and performing arts activities, restaurants, lounges, and other cultural attractions.
Things kick off on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 5-7, with Jazz About Town, the annual jazz crawl featuring local musicians in restaurants and lounges. The holiday weekend continues with a brunch on Oct. 7 at The Rainbow Restaurant. Dates, details, and locations will be updated here.
Festival activities resume mid-week with the Jazz Prodigy concert, on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7pm, at the Berkshire Athenaeum. The free concert, sponsored by the Friends of the Athenaeum, will introduce the remarkable bassist Gabriel Severn to Berkshires audiences.
The fast-rising vocalist Veronica Swift opens headline weekend on Friday, Oct. 12, with the Berkshires Jazz All-Star Trio in a 6:30pm dinner/concert at Legion Hall, 41 Wendell Ave. Tickets are $42, including the Italian buffet dinner ($25 for music only; concert starts at 8pm). Tickets are available here.
Christian McBride’s New Jawn quartet caps the festival in a 7:30pm concert at The Colonial Theatre, 111 South Street. The Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble, a curated big band comprising students from Herberg and Reid Middle Schools, will open for McBride. Tickets are $25 and $38.
The festival concludes with a jazz brunch on Sunday, Oct. 14. Ticket information and the online box office can be found at www.BerkshiresJazz.org.
About the artists
Award-winning 13-year-old electric bassist Gabriel Severn began playing at age 7, but was already drawn to the bass by age 2. As a toddler, he’d point the bass out at performances and festivals while watching his dad play. It was then that he developed an ear for Jaco Pastorius’ music, and loved listening to bands such as the Yellowjackets and Weather Report during car rides.
In 2012, at age 7, Gabriel began private lessons, and 4 months later joined his first band. He received international recognition when his video performing Jaco’s solo on Havana at age 11 went viral, setting the wheels in motion for a possible professional career. He has won a Down Beat Magazine award for student composition. He will appear with local musicians Eugene Uman on piano and Conor Meehan on drums.
At age 24, Veronica Swift is being recognized as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene. She performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center at age 11, as part of the “Women in Jazz” series at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. She won second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in 2015, and her album from that same year, “Lonely Woman,” features some of the hottest young jazz players on the scene including Emmet Cohen, Benny Bennack III, Daryl Johns (with whom she shared the Grammy Choir/Band experience), Matt Wigler, and Scott Lowrie.
She moved to New York City in 2016 and almost immediately started performing every Saturday night at the legendary Birdland Jazz Club, a gig she continues to maintain when she isn’t on the road. Earlier this year, she appeared in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s reprisal of the famous Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall concert.
In addition to performing the Great American Songbook and bebop and vocalese classics, Swift is also a passionate devotee of 20s and 30s music. Last year at this time, she was on tour with Chris Botti in California. Here in Pittsfield, she will appear with the Berkshires Jazz All-Star Trio: Benny Kohn, piano; Mary Ann McSweeney, bass; and Conor Meehan, drums.
Six-time GRAMMY-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride has been likened to a force of nature, fusing the fire and fury of a virtuoso with the depth and grounding of a seasoned journeyman. Powered by a relentless energy and a boundless love of swing, McBride’s path has described a continuous positive arc since his arrival on the scene. With a career now blazing into its third decade, and recordings as both a sideman and leader numbering more than 300, the Philadelphia native has become one of the most requested, most recorded, and most respected figures in the music world today.
The consummate jazz educator and evangelist, McBride often leads the ensemble at Jazz House Kids in Newark, NJ, and is the voice of the syndicated NPR program “Jazz Night In America,” and hosts his own show on Sirius/XM. In 2016, he was named creative director of the Newport Jazz Festival. His New Jawn Quartet comprises Josh Evans, trumpet; Marcus Strickland, saxophone; McBride, bass; and Nasheet Waits, drums. Their first CD, “Christian McBride’s New Jawn,” will be released in October, shortly after the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival.
The festival is made possible thanks to sponsorships from the Feigenbaum Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and private donations.
Click here for our online box office for Veronica Swift’s concert on Oct. 12. The Colonial Theatre is also selling tickets for Christian McBride (Oct. 13) online (click here). You can also order them by phone at 413-997-4444 (saving the transaction fee vs. ordering online), and at The Colonial Theatre’s walkup box office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield, during regular operating hours.
See you there!