The Pittsfield CityJazz Festival returns after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The event spans two weekends, taking place from April 23 to May 1, and becomes part of Jazz Appreciation Month.
The festival is made possible by a $10,000 grant from The Feigenbaum Foundation, and sponsorships from Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, and WETF, the jazz station (www.jazzradioWETF.org).
The lineup includes something for everybody.
“Jazz About Town” takes on two forms:
the first Berkshires Jazz Jam (Saturday, April 23, at Mission Restaurant, 7-10pm), with rotating local artists; and
the annual Jazz Crawl (Saturday, April 30, various venues through Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District).[see updated schedule below]
Jazz prodigy Ruby Farmer, a 16-year-old bassist who will be appearing during the 100th birthday observation of Charles Mingus. She will be accompanied by Benny Kohn (piano) and Conor Meehan (drums). Wednesday, April 27, 7pm. Berkshire Athenaeum, sponsored by the Friends of the Athenaeum. Free.
The first stop on a CD release tour by the DIVA Jazz Orchestra (“DIVA Swings Broadway”).
Plus: the latest iteration of the Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble will open for DIVA’s concert, a matinee on Sunday, May 1. Click here for more information and tickets.
And once again, jazz brunch at Dottie’s opens our closing day. Open 8am-2pm, with music from 10am-noon, featuring Dave Bartley and Pete Toigo.
Annual Jazz Crawl April 30, 2022 Sponsored by Pittsfield Cooperative Bank
4-6pm: Benny Kohn | Jeff Stevens Duo
• Hotel on North, 297 North Street
5-7pm: Dave Bartley Trio
• Flat Burger Society, McKay Street
5:30-7:30pm: Ennis/McEachern Quartet * Methuselah, 391 North Street (updated item)
6-8pm: Luke Franco Quartet with special guest Mike Fahn
• Berkshire Palate, 297 North Street
7-10om: Andy Kelly’s Gypsy Jazz Ambassadors
• 101 Restaurant, 1 West Street
8-10pm: Kris Allen Trio
• Methuselah, 391 North Street
8-10pm: Michael Junkins Trio
• RJ’s Restaurant, 109 First Street
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’s New Jawn quartet (Oct. 13); jazz brunches, and more. Box office activity is heavy for both of the ticketed events.
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 kicked-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 continued with a brunch on Oct. 7 at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, featuring Nico Wohl and Andy Wrba.
Festival activities resumed 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, introduced the remarkable bassist Gabriel Severn to Berkshires audiences. He was backed by Eugene Uman, piano, and Conor Meehan, drums. Snippts are appearing on Facebook…check them out.
The fast-rising vocalist Veronica Swift opens headline weekend on Friday, Oct. 12, with the Berkshires Jazz All-Star Trio in a dinner/concert at Legion Hall, 41 Wendell Ave. Tickets are $25 for the concert, which starts at 8pm (optional Italian dinner is $17, including tax and gratuity (dinner available starting at 6:30). Cash bar will be available. 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.
Did you miss this year’s Jazz Prodigy concert during the Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival? Just in case you did, or want to revisit it, here’s a sample, a unique treatment of “Stella By Starlight,” featuring Caelan Cardello. A product of Jazz House Kids, the renowned after-school music program in Newark, New Jersey, Caelan’s trio performed their maiden gig on Oct. 11, at the Berkshire Athenaeum. Watch him!
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
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.
Final updated schedule before the 2016 Pittsfield CityJazz Festival
Jazz Prodigy Concert – Nathan Farrell, alto saxophone
Thursday, Oct. 13, 7pm – Jazz Prodigy Concert – Nathan Farrell, alto saxophone – Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave. (free)
Sponsored by the Friends of the Athenaeum
Scott Robinson Quartet
Friday, Oct. 14, 8:00pm (doors open at 7:30pm) – Scott Robinson Quartet – Flavours Malaysian Restaurant (entrance on McKay Street)
The online box office for the Scott Robinson Quartet performance is now closed. Some tickets will be available at the door starting at 7:30pm. To hold tickets, please call 413-841-7718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karrin Allyson U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors
Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:30pm – Karrin Allyson U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors – Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble – Colonial Theatre, 111 South St.
$20/$35, Tickets: 413-997-4444, or www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.
Sunday, Oct. 16, 11am-1pm -Jazz Brunch – Dredi (Jazz/Reggae) – Dottie’s Coffee Lounge – 444 North Street
A new part of the festival is a month-long exhibit of the works of award-winning photojournalist Ken Franckling. Opening with the First Friday Artswalk on Oct. 7, the exhibit of more than 20 of Franckling’s photos will hang at the Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave. Franclking will be present at the First Friday Artswalk reception on Oct. 7 (5-8pm), signing his book, “JAZZ IN THE KEY OF LIGHT.”
In addition to visually capturing a variety of the world’s jazz greats in performance or moments of personal reflection, Franckling paired the images with essential quotes from interviews he conducted over his long career, working for a variety of mainstream and jazz publications. It is not your typical fine art photography book,
As part of its Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, a local group of professional musicians, the Pittsfield Sister City Jaz Ambassadors, visits elementary and middle schools in the county, educating and entertaining students.
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, Berkshire Bank, the Crowne Plaza, and jazz advocate and educator Brent Banulis.
ABOUT THE HEADLINERS
Kicking-off “headline weekend,” the exciting, creative sounds of saxophonist Scott Robinson will fill Flavours Restaurant on Oct. 14, starting at 8pm – doors open at 7:30. ($25 advance; $30 day of show) Robinson graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 1981; the next year, he joined the college’s staff, becoming its youngest faculty member. He has appeared on more than 200 LP and CD releases, including eleven under his leadership. Robinson’s quartet makes its Berkshires debut at the popular nightspot (entrance on McKay Street, across the street from the parking lot and garage).
The remarkable vocalist and pianist Karrin Allyson performs with her trio at The Colonial Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 15, at u7:30pm. Allyson has been nominated for five Grammy Awards, and has received positive reviews from several prominent sources, including the New York Times, which has called her a “singer with a feline touch and impeccable intonation.” After her set, the Jazz Ambassadors –America’s big band– take the stage, and Allyson will return for some numbers with the big band.
In addition to the headline performers, the Oct. 15 concert will be opened by the Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble, which is in residence at Herberg Middle School. Under the direction of Chris Nelson-Unczur, the ensemble mainly comprises the student musicians in the Herberg Middle School Jazz Ensemble, augmented by graduates and visiting students. Tickets for the Oct. 15 headline concert is available at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.
Jazz About Town – Annual Jazz Crawl, Oct. 7-9, 2016, Downtown Pittsfield
Friday, Oct. 7
Ken Franckling’s “Jazz in the Key of Light”
Reception and book signing, 5-8pm
First Friday Artswalk “after party”
Jazz from 8-10pm
Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave.
Andy Kelly, Gypsy Jazz, 7pm
Patrick’s Pub, 26 Bank Row
Dave Bartley, piano/vocal, 6:30-8:30pm
Panchos, 156 North Street
Blue Light Trio, 7:30pm
Rainbow Restaurant, 109 First St.
Saturday, Oct. 8
John Kozinski, guitar, 6:30-8:30pm
Panchos, 156 North St.
Rich VInette Quintet, 7-10pm
J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille, 41 North St.
Warren Sieme, 7:30pm
Rainbow Restaurant, 109 First Street
Natalia Bernal and Jason Ennis, 8-10pm
Mission Bar and Tapas, 438 North Street
Gruppo Mundo, 9pm-close
The Lantern, 455 North Street
Sunday, Oct. 9
Rainbow Restaurant, 109 First Street
Other events of interest
Month-long Jazz Photography exhibit
“Jazz in the Key of Light”
Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave.
Sunday, Oct. 16
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge
444 North Street, 11am-1pm
Andy Wrba and guests, 7:30pm, every Monday.
Mission Bar and Tapas, 438 North Street
Gruppo Mundo, 6:30pm, every Wednesday
Rainbow Restaurant, 109 First St.
Berkshires Jazz, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to present jazz events and promote jazz education in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
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.
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 | [gview file=”https://berkshiresjazz.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/vinette-quintet.pdf.pdf”]
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,
7:30pm: The Rainbow, 109 First St. | Peter Primamore
Friday, Oct. 9
Rob Fisch’s Intentional Jazz | Whitney Center for the Arts | 42 Wendell Ave. | 7:30pm, $15
Monday, Oct. 12
7:30pm, Mission, 438 North St. | Andy Wrba and Friends
The tenth annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival runs from Oct. 10-19, 2014 in various venues in downtown Pittsfield. A signature cultural event of the fall foliage season in western Massachusetts, the music spans the spectrum of jazz.
In addition to the region’s top big band, the lineup includes four of the top female instrumental and vocal performers, the annual jazz crawl that features local musicians in restaurants and lounges throughout downtown; and a new entry in the Jazz Prodigy series. Full jazz crawl schedule here.
Jazz Prodigy concert with The Robert Woodard Heath Trio
One of the highlights of the 10-day festival is the Jazz Prodigy concert: The Robert Woodard Heath Trio, Featuring Franz Robert, piano. Introducing a young artist who is expected to become a force in jazz, it will be at 7PM Oct. 15 at Berkshire Music School, sponsored by the Friends of the Athenaeum.
Next Festival event is Third Thursday block party in Downtown Pittsfield Oct. 16, featuring at 5pm the Eagles Swing Band and then at 6pm, Metro West Thump.
Stephanie Nakasian, Hod O’Brien Trio
There are only two ticketed events, on Oct. 17 and 18. Opening the headline weekend is vocalist Stephanie Nakasian, featured with Hod O’Brien Trio, Jeff Link, bass; and Jereme Vinette, drums.
The performance takes place in the intimate setting of Baba Louie’s Backroom, a popular speakeasy-type room that is becoming one of the more popular jazz venues in the Berkshires. $20 in advance, $25 at the door. (Please include name for your reservation, in lieu of actual ticket(s))
Empire Jazz Orchestra, Claire Daly, Sharel Cassity, Ada Rovatti
The final concert is Saturday, Oct. 18. The performers are the Empire Jazz Orchestra, the region’s top big band, and will feature three guest artists: saxophonists Claire Daly, Sharel Cassity, and Ada Rovatti. Plus Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble, with students from Herberg Middle School, Rock On Workshop, and Youth Alive. This concert will be held at Pittsfield’s historic Colonial Theatre (and offers discounts to AAA members). Tickets at Colonial Box Office, $35/20.
The weekend winds down at The Little Cinema at the Berkshire Museum, for a Sunday matinee screening of the movie The Girls In The Band. Oct. 19, 2pm, $10 ($5 for Berkshire Museum members).