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The Lenox Jazz Stroll
The pandemic safety guidelines for indoors events have necessitated the suspension of our indoors programming for the remainder of 2020.
But, music followers yearning for ‘live’ performances had a bonanza on Saturday, Sept. 12, when the Lenox Jazz Stroll featured five bands in a series of free one-hour concerts. Taking place throughout the picturesque Berkshires town, the Stroll is sponsored by Mill Town Capital, the Lenox Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, and Berkshires Jazz, Inc.
The lineup and schedule included:
• Noon: Ben Kohn Quartet, Gateways Inn
• 1pm: Mary Ann McSweeney, Winstanley Green
• 2pm: Berkshire Jazz Quartet, Lenox Library Reading Park
• 3pm: Richard Stanmeyer Quartet, Church Street Dining Terrace
• 4pm: Kris Allen, Jonathan Barber, Luques Curtis, Gateways Inn
Pandemic guidelines were strictly followed, and several of the venues were turning away fans (sorry).
Given the evolving pandemic situation, please check back for the latest news. We look forward to the return of some sort of normalcy, and to an exciting year in 2021.
Stay safe, and healthy. And enjoy the growing number of venues that are presenting jazz al fresco. Check our Regional Jazz Calendar for details, which are provided by the artists and the venues.
And with your support, another banner year in 2020!
It has been a wonderful year for jazz lovers in Berkshire County, and we are proud of the role we have played in bringing some of the most memorable performances to the area. As we conclude our 10th year as a 501c3 non-profit organization, here’s a look-back at some 2019 highlights:
• The 8th annual Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend in Lee
• The 15th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival
• Another memorable Jazz Prodigy concert
• Performances by marquee artists such as Ted Rosenthal, Ken Peplowski, Wanda Houston, Samirah Evans, Diego Figueriedo, Veronica Swift, Stephanie Nakasian, and Dayramir Gonzalez, and Matt and Atla DeChamplain.
• Plus, we presented a record number of first-call musicians from the local scene, who populated both our second annual Berkshire Jazz Showcase and other standalone events.
• Our first-ever concert at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, featuring Miro Sprague, Marty Jaffe, Jason Ennis, and Claire Daly.
Our commitment to education continues, with master classes, workshops, joint performances, and, of course, our student art contest.
None of this would be possible without the support of donors and underwriters. As you contemplate your year-end giving, we hope you will take Berkshires Jazz into consideration.
You can make a donation by clicking on the “Donate” button above, or sending a check to:
Berkshires Jazz, Inc.
27 Dewey Ave.
Pittsfield MA 01201
Thank you for your support!
Happy Holidays. We look forward to seeing you in the new year.
Nov. 30, 2019, 7:30pm. Saint James Place,
Great Barrington, Mass.
An evening of fresh and familiar music with Berkshire standouts Miro Sprague, Marty Jaffe, and Jason Ennis, with special guest Claire Daly. This concert marks Berkshires Jazz’ first collaboration with the stunning new performance venue.
The Sprague/Jaffe/Ennis Trio is an exciting new ensemble featuring long time collaborators Miro Sprague (piano), Marty Jaffe (bass), and Jason Ennis (guitar). Though they always include a few surprising interpretations of familiar tunes, the trio mainly performs original jazz compositions by each band member. Infused with influences from Brazil, classical chamber music, funk and more, the trio’s music features intricate group improvisation, inventive arrangements, and a deep sense of beauty and groove.
Joining the trio for this evening is award-winning baritone saxophonist Claire Daly, who is right at home with the mix of familiar and original. Recognized as an interpreter of such legends as Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan, she has appeared in a wide range of ensembles, and has appeared in the Berkshires in both a big-band and small-group setting.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the concert, and are available here, and at Wood Brothers Music, Allendale Shopping Center, Pittsfield.
Berkshire native Miro Sprague is a pianist and composer, known for his inspiring creativity, dynamic and passionate performance style, and artistic versatility. He has performed at many of the world’s top venues and festivals in settings ranging from solo piano to septet. He leads his own trio and quintet, and is a member of the cooperative septet “Holophonor”. He has performed with many renowned artists, and is an in-demand vocal accompanist. Since 2015 has been the pianist of choice for vocalist Karrin Allyson, appearing with her at the 2017 Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, along with bassist Marty Jaffe.
Guitarist Jason Ennis is an exciting voice in the world of jazz guitar. His unique sound, deep groove and sensitive feel, along with a diverse background in jazz, blues, Brazilian music and classical music have made him highly in demand as a soloist, sideman, bandleader and musical director. Jason leads his own instrumental group, Trio Jota Sete, and co-leads the world jazz trio, La Voz de Tres, which has toured extensively throughout the United States and Chile and has released two CDs. His searing blues style is a cornerstone of the NYC-based jazz/blues powerhouse group, Opius Bliss.
Also a Berkshire native, Marty Jaffe comes from a musical family that includes his father, the educator, composer and bandleader Andy Jaffe, a former Board member of Berkshires Jazz. A Juilliard graduate, Marty is the youngest member of the group, and is already in demand as an ensemble player and soloist. He has performed in venues around the world, and has appeared in the Berkshires with Samirah Evans and Karrin Allyson, among others, as well as with Jason Ennis and Miro Sprague.
Guest artist Claire Daly’s career has included anchoring the sax section in the Diva Big Band, freelancing in New York doing every imaginable kind of gig, recording five CDs with the band “People Like Us”, as well as several CDs as leader. She has appeared at many festivals and venues, including Pittsfield, where her last appearance was with Sharel Cassity and Ada Rovatti and the Empire Jazz Orchestra. President Clinton’s Library requested a copy of her first CD, Swing Low, to be included in a listening station as a CD that was significant to the former president while in office. A four-time winner of the Downbeat Critic’s Poll “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition,” she was also recognized by the Jazz Journalist Association as Baritone Sax Player of the Year.
Check back for updates, tickets are on sale now (click here). The venue is amazing, both visually and acoustically. It’s great to be holding an event in this remarkable performance space. Seating is limited, don’t miss out on this highlight of the holiday weekend.
The 15th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival takes place from Oct. 11-20
Six locations will feature local artists in the annual “Jazz Crawl” on Friday, Oct. 11
A signature event of the fall foliage season in the Berkshires, festival highlights include a rare duo of 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 Friday, Oct. 11, for our annual “jazz crawl”, where six restaurants and lounges will be featuring Berkshires-based musicians. A part of a weekend of “Jazz About Town,” the schedule is at the bottom of this page.
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. Click here for online box office. (Members can purchase discounted tickets on the Berkshire Museum site.)
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. Saturday, Oct. 19, 7:30pm at The Colonial Theatre. Tickets are on sale at the Colonial Theatre box office (click here).
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. PBS viewers caught part of her tour with Chris Botti on a recent fundraising concert video.
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.
Jazz About Town Schedule
Friday, October 11
“The Jazz Crawl”
Patrick’s Pub, 26 Bank Row, 5:30-8pm: Kelley Love, keyboard
Panchos, 156 North St., 5:30-8:30pm: Gary Miller, vibes
Flavours, McKay St.: 6-9pm: Andy Kelly, guitar
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, 444 North Street, 7-8pm
Dessert and Live Music with Jeff Link and Kirk Scott
Rainbow Restaurant, 109 First St., 7-10pm: Blue Light Trio
Hotel on North, 297 North Street, 8-11pm: Lita Williams
Saturday, October 12
Rainbow Restaurant, 109 First St., 7-10pm: Lady Di & the Dukes
Sunday, Oct. 13
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, 444 North Street
10am-2pm (music until noon) BornIVblues
Hotel on North, 297 North St.,
11am-2pm: Kelley Love duo
Sunday, Oct. 20
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, 444 North Street
10am-2pm (music until noon): DBsquared (Dave Bartley and Dan Broad)
Hotel on North, 297 North St.
11am-2pm: Kelley Love duo
Announcing the lineup and slate of events for the
eighth annual Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend
June 14-16 at various locations in downtown Lee, Massachusetts
Sponsored by Berkshire Gateway Preservation, Inc. in collaboration with Berkshires Jazz, Inc., the festival includes headline concerts, a free afternoon of jazz in the park in front of Lee Congregational Church, outdoors food vendors, a display of vintage automobiles, and two jazz brunches. Headline performers include regional favorites Wanda Houston and Samirah Evans, singing classic duets, plus a night of Brazil-flavored jazz with guitarist Diego Figueiredo and saxophone legend Ken Peplowski.
The weekend opens on Friday, June 14, with a 7:30pm concert of “Classic Duets and More.” The concert entails a rare pairing of Samirah Evans and Wanda Houston, two of the region’s most exciting and accomplished vocal artists. They will be accompanied by three of the Berkshires most noted instrumental artists: Benny Kohn, piano; Andy Wrba, bass; and Conor Meehan, drums. The weekend continues on Saturday June 15 (7:30pm) with a night of Brazilian-tinged jazz, featuring the fiery guitarist Diego Figueiredo, legendary reedman Ken Peplowski, plus special guest vocalist Chiara Izzi. The musical approach for Saturday has been described as “bossa nova with a fiery modern flavor”.
The headline concerts take place in the Lee Meeting House, a venue of extraordinary audio quality and visual appeal. Also known as Lee Congregational Church, it is located on the Common in downtown Lee, Massachusetts, the gateway to the Berkshires. Tickets for each concert are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the event.
Details, and the online box office, are available at www.BerkshireGatewayJazz.org.
On Saturday afternoon, the park in front of the church becomes an outdoors music fair, with jazz being performed between 11:30am and 4pm (see website for update on performers). Along with the free music, food vendors will be on hand, plus a display of vintage automobiles.
Starving Artist Café will have jazz brunches on both days. Saturday, June 15 (10am-noon) will feature the music of Gary Miller’s Release the Penguins; Sunday, June 16 (11am-2pm), the Rich Vinette Quintet holds sway.
The festival is made possible through the support of several organizations and sponsors, including Adams Community Bank, Berkshire Bank, Canna Provisions, Consolati Insurance, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and the Lee Chamber of Commerce.
For detailed information, continual updates, and a link to the online box office, visit
The 14th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival kick off on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 5-7, with Jazz About Town, featuring regional musicians in restaurants and lounges around Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District. The holiday weekend continues with a brunch on Oct. 7 at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge. Here’s the schedule:
Friday, Oct. 5:
Panchos, 156 North St,
6-9pm: Gary Miller and Ed Green Jazz Duo
Rainbow Restaurant, 109 First St.
7:30pm: Blue Light Trio
Saturday, Oct. 6
Patrick’s Pub, 26 Bank Row
5:30-8pm: Nico Wohl, guitar trio
Panchos, 156 North St.
6-9pm: Dave Bartley, keyboard and vocal
Mission Bar & Tapas, 438 North St.
8-11pm: Mary Ann Palermo and First Take
Hotel On North, 297 North St.
9-11pm: Banulis & Miller Jazz Duo
Sunday, Oct. 7: Jazz Brunch
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, 444 North St.
10am-2pm (music until noon)
Nico Wohl guitar duo
Monday, Oct. 8, the holiday weekend continues
Mission Bar & Tapas, 438 North St. 8-11pm:
Andy Wrba and Friends
Enjoy the vibe!
For information on the rest of the festival, including headliners Veronica Swift and Christian McBride’s New Jawn quartet, plus our jazz prodigy concert, click here.
Attention percussion teachers, students, and anyone interested in Latin rhythms: Berkshires Jazz is hosting a free Latin Percussion Workshop this Saturday, Oct. 14, at Wood Brothers Music Store (Allendale Shopping Center, Pittsfield. 1-2:30pm). The clinic will be conducted by Roger Squitero, percussionist with the Dizzy Gillespie Afro- Cuban Experience.
Dizzy Gillespie is generally credited with bringing Afro-Cuban rhythms to the American jazz scene, and Roger Squitero is helping to perpetuate that movement. Here’s a unique opportunity to get inside tips from one of the top percussionists in jazz. No charge, thanks to a grant from The Feigenbaum Foundation.
Please contact web@BerkshiresJazz.org with any questions.
Spanning two weekends, our 13th Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival festival kicks-off with the popular “jazz crawl” on Friday, Oct. 6. Various local restaurants and lounges present local musicians in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District. No cover charge!
It’s no secret that the Berkshires are home for some amazing talent, and it’s a pleasure to present so many of them in a concentrated timeframe and format.
For full details on this year’s festival, including our jazz prodigy concert and headliners, click here.
Here’s the Jazz Crawl schedule so far. Check back for possible changes and updates.
Friday, Oct. 6
Panchos, 156 North St,
6-9pm: Nico Wohl, guitar
Patrick’s Pub, 26 Bank Row
7-10pm: Andy Kelly Jazz Ambassadors
Rainbow, 109 First St.
7:30pm: Blue Light Trio
Saturday, Oct. 7
Panchos, 156 North St.
6-9pm: Banulis and Miller Jazz Duo
J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille, 41 North St.
7-10om: Andy Kelly Gypsy Jazz
The Rainbow, 109 First St.
7:30pm: Mary Ann Palermo and First Take
Patrick’s Pub, 26 Bank Row
6-9pm: Kozinski/Ricker Guitar Duo
Mission Bar and Tapas, 438 North St.
8-11pm: Sarah Clay Duo
Sunday, Oct. 8
Jazz Brunch at The Rainbow, 109 First St.
11am-3pm: Mary Ann Palermo and First Take
Dizzy Gillespie tribute, Samirah Evans with Charles Neville, piano prodigy Caelan Cardello headline Pittsfield CityJazz Festival
The Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, Oct. 6-15, 2017, is a celebration of America’s classical music, our cultural gift to the world. Spanning two weekends, our 13th annual festival kicks-off with the popular “jazz crawl,” on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6-8. Local musicians perform in restaurants and lounges in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District. (click here for schedule) It’s no secret that the Berkshires are home for some amazing talent, and it’s a pleasure to present so many of them in a concentrated timeframe and format. Capping off both weekends, there will be jazz brunches on Oct. 8 and 15.
One of the most important aspects of the festival is our Jazz Prodigy series, featuring young performers whom we expect to become significant figures in jazz. As has happened for the past three festivals, this year’s artist, pianist Caelan Cardello, comes to us from Jazz House Kids, the renowned educational and performance program in Newark. A high school student in Teaneck, New Jersey, Caelan and his trio appear at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 7pm. Thanks to the support of the Friends of the Athenaeum, there is not charge for tickets to this event.
Our two marquee events show remarkable range and diversity…from the New Orleans mainstay Samirah Evans –with special guest Charles Neville– to a celebration of Dizzy Gillespie’s 100th birthday. Tickets are now on sale for both events.
There are two jazz brunches, Oct. 8 and 15, at The Rainbow Restaurant (Oct. 8) and Dottie’s Coffee Lounge (Oct. 15).
Details for the headline concerts follow.
Friday, Oct. 13, your lucky day
[This show is sold out]
One of the most popular jazz and blues vocalists in pre-Katrina New Orleans, Samirah Evans dedicates time to perpetuating indigenous American music. With a mix of swampy, sultry, and soulful takes on jazz standards and originals, she first performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1990, and became a regular fixture for fourteen consecutive years.
While living in New Orleans, Samirah appeared in concert with such notable musicians as trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Charles Neville, and drummer Shannon Powell (Harry Connick, Jr. band and Diana Krall).
Hurricane Katrina caused Samirah and her husband to seek out new living arrangements outside of New Orleans, so they moved to his native town of Brattleboro, Vermont in the fall of 2006. Her debut performance was at the Vermont Jazz Center with the VJC Big Band. She soon found herself sharing the spotlight with the legendary Shelia Jordan as a principal in a musical theater performance, Beatnik Café’, depicting the beatnik generation.
She has toured Europe, Asia, and both North and South America as a headliner, and shared stages with a multitude of legendary artists from B.B. King and James Brown, to New Orleans own Queen of Soul, Irma Thomas.
Her live performance repertoire runs the gamut from raunchy blues to jazz smooth as silk. She has often been compared to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, and Etta James She made countless new friends in the Berkshires in an appearance at Zucchini’s in 2016, and we are delighted to bring her back for the Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival.
Guest soloist Charles Neville provides a special treat. The second oldest brother of the famed New Orleans musical family, Charles has the most diverse background. His experience on saxophone has included rhythm & blues, funk, jazz, be-bop, popular and even American Indian music. He cites as influences Louis Jordan, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Professor Longhair. He’s a popular Berkshires artist, and we’re delighted to have him on the Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival program for the first time
Samirah’s group includes three of the top rhythm players on the New York scene, all of whom have deep Berkshires connections: Miro Sprague, piano; Mary Ann McSweeney, bass; and Conor Meehan, drums.
Flavours of Malaysia is the setting for many a rising jazz artist, as well as those whose star has already ascended. Acoustically and visually, it’s a “happening” scene. For our jazz festival audience, Flavours is offering special dinner pricing of $15, for your choice among three of their most popular entrees, with stir-fry, curry, and vegetarian options. For the show only, tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the show. The doors open at 7:45pm, when the special dinner pricing goes into effect.
This event is now sold-out. If you were lucky enough to get tickets, we look forward to seeing you there.
Saturday, Oct. 14: celebrating Dizzy’s centennial
History has produced its share of great artists and great people, and John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was both. As a performer, he left behind an incredible record of innovation and inspiration; as a composer, a broad repository of musical masterpieces; and as a man, a legion of friends, colleagues and compatriots who remember him with the same degree of love and esteem they reserve for his work. Those “Dizzy for President” buttons were actually half-serious.
Berkshires Jazz celebrates Gillespie’s 100th birthday with a performance by the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, a 6-piece ensemble led by his long-term bassist John Lee. The group showcases the unique rhythms and well-loved melodies (such as “Manteca” and “Tin Tin Deo”) of Gillespie’s oeuvre of Cu-Bop, which he developed in the 40s and 50s with Chano Pozo. That music rings every bit as fresh today, which is why
jazz ensembles around the world are still performing it.
And, the expanded repertoire of the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience also explores the broader world of Latin-American music–the tunes that Dizzy likely would be playing today.
The musicians are drawn from the high-caliber pool of New York-based talent tha
t frequent the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and All-Star groups, including trumpeter Freddie Hendrix (photo at right), saxophonist Sharel Cassity, Brazilian pianist/vocalist Abelita Mateus, drummer Tommy Campbell and percussionist Roger Squitero. They perform with energy, verve, and style, putting their own fresh stamp on a well-known genre.
Our all-star youth ensemble opens the musical proceedings at 7:30pm. Tickets are $23-38, and are available here.
“Back in the day,” Berkshire radio personality Dave Kidd, father of Berkshires Jazz treasurer Barbara Seddon, conducted this interview with Dizzy Gillespie; it is now on file at the International Jazz History Database.