“Headline weekend” for the Berkshires Gateway Jazz Weekend kicks off with the Frank Vignola Trio (7:30pm, Lee Congregational Church). Frank is one of the most extraordinary (and popular) guitarists performing before the public today. His virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world’s top musicians, including Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul, who named Frank to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List”. The New York Times deemed him “one of the brightest stars of the guitar”.
It’s great to welcome him back to the Berkshires, where he has performed at two Pittsfield CityJazz Festivals, to great critical and popular acclaim. His trio includes co-guitarist Vinny Raniolo and bassist Elias Bailey.
Closing-out the headline performances at this year’s Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend will be the Jeff Holmes Big Band, featuring the amazing vocalist Dawning Holmes. [Click here for tickets, or read on]
Pianist, composer, arranger and trumpeter Jeff Holmes is a nationally published composer/arranger, and a multiple recipient of National Endowment For The Arts Jazz Composition Grants. He has written music for renowned jazz musicians including John Abercrombie, Max Roach, Sheila Jordan, Yusef Lateef, Rufus Reid, and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
In addition to the band’s impressive library of big-band standards and originals, this evening’s repertoire will include a tribute to Leonard Bernstein, whose 100th birthday is being celebrated this year by musical organizations across the globe. Bernstein’s music touched all genres, from classical to pop, opera to jazz, and Hollywood.
The band features the outstanding vocalist Dawning Holmes, who was first heard in Lee during the 2017 tribute to Buddy Rich. In addition to her work with Jeff’s big band, Dawning has sung in jazz clubs from New York City to London, has guested with both Paul Winter and the UMASS Studio Orchestra/Jazz Ensemble I, and opened for Bob Newhart at the Foxwoods Casino Theatre. She performs pieces made popular by Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Amy Winehouse, and is currently working on a project of her own original music and lyrics.
Concert time is 7:30pm, at the Lee Meeting House (Lee Congregational Church). Tickets [click here] are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the event.
Optional Italian buffet, as only Brenda’s can do it!
Matt DeChamplain is “the man” when it comes to stride piano. He approaches his instrument in a fresh and interesting way, reworking familiar standards and interpreting his own compositions. Not just a repertory player, Matt is a creative interpreter of the genre, as shown on his CD “Stride – Bop.”
Matt’s music is rooted in a profound love for the early jazz masters. What makes him unique is his application of early jazz piano devices created by Ragtime, Blues and Stride musicians. He pursues a musicianship that fuses traditional elements with modern jazz concepts. In this program, Matt illustrates how various stride players influenced generations of jazz giants.
So, after Pittsfield’s monthly “First Friday Artswalk,” stride over to 41 Wendell Ave. for this special event. An optional Italian buffet will be available from Brenda’s Catering, starting at 6:30pm. Regular seating will be available at 7pm. Cash bar.
A popular participant in Pittsfield’s jazz scene, Matt DeChamplain is an educator and performer, but rarely gets the chance to mix the two professions. A growing interest in jazz in the Berkshires, encouraged by his two previous appearances in a different (vocal) setting, gives him the opportunity to stretch out.
Advance price for tickets is $42 all-inclusive, including the dinner, tax, and tip, or $25 for the concert only. Available online (click here), don’t miss out!
Ted Rosenthal and his trio perform jazz interpretations of ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ and 9 other familiar compositions of George Gershwin
Ted Rosenthal is one of the leading jazz pianists of his generation, actively touring worldwide with his trio, as a soloist, and in various configurations. Winner of the 1988 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, he has performed with many jazz greats, including Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Phil Woods, Bob Brookmeyer, and James Moody.
His interpretation of George Gershwin compositions was captured on the CD “Rhapsody in Gershwin,” which provides the foundation for our “10, by George” concert. In reviewing this album, Kevin Whitehead of NPR said, “Rosenthal gets Gershwin’s sensibility (with) a classical pianist’s reverence for the material and a jazz musician’s way of running off of it.” As for the band, Whitehead adds, “these players really make the Rhapsody their own and make it modern again.” It’s no wonder that this CD reached #1 in jazz album sales at iTunes and Amazon.
A virtuoso interpreter and presenter of jazz and crossover music, Ted has 15 CDs to his name. His trio includes Martin Wind, bass, and Tim Horner, drums.
A wine bar, featuring the products of Berkshires’ own Balderdash Winery, will be available starting at 6:30pm.
This concert is part of downtown Pittsfield’s annual “10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival,” when arts organizations present a variety of concerts, plays, and other performances with a “10” theme.
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!
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
Saturday, August 26, 3:00pm-8:00pm the HOT SUMMER SWING BASH (rocks and) rolls into Ski Butternut in Great Barrington. There’s some great jazz and swing music in store, including the Squirrel Nut Zippers, local bands, and a discount on tickets, to boot.
The sponsors, Berkshire Bash, are offering an exclusive, special discount offer for friends of Berkshires Jazz that is also a fund-raiser for us. Your ticket is just $30 ($10 off per ticket, which is normally $40), and $5 of that ticket goes directly to Berkshires Jazz. When purchasing your ticket, use code: JAZZ and Berkshire Bash remits $5 per ticket to us!
The day-long festival features national headliner SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS, and local favorites THE LUCKY 5 and BLUE LIGHT TRIO. This family-friendly, fun-filled day also includes ROGER THE JESTER and more kids activities courtesy of United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County.
Squirrel Nut Zippers’ music is a high-energy fusion of Delta blues, gypsy jazz, 1930s era swing, klezmer and other styles. Originally formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, their one-of-a-kind sound ranges in influence from Harlem Hot Music to the sounds of Cab Calloway, Johnny Ace, Raymond Scott, Fats Waller, and Django Reinhardt.
Food options include delicious Indian cuisine from Chef Express, SoCo Creamery, and beer & wine from Lefty’s Brewing. Bring a blanket, a picnic and the whole family!
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.