Berkshires jazz events April 2014

Armen DonelianIn keeping with the spirit of national Jazz Appreciation Month, Berkshires Jazz, Inc. has announced a series of musical events that run the gamut of styles and venues. The April programming spans Berkshire County, and includes performances of student musicians in both Lee and Pittsfield; a Spring Jazz Crawl in downtown Pittsfield; and the debut of a recording of Armenian folk tunes interpreted by the legendary Armen Donelian, in Great Barrington.

Programming partners include the Berkshire Music School, Berkshire Gateway Preservation, Inc., and Castle Street Café.

matinee in Lee

The jazz surge kicks off on Saturday, April 12, with a double header matinee at the First Congregational Church on Park Square in Lee. The event, presented in collaboration with Berkshire Gateway Preservation and the Berkshire Music School, starts at 1pm and features two remarkable musicians in small-group surroundings. The opening group is Nico Wohl and Friends, featuring the 13-year-old guitarist who has been wowing audiences all over the Berkshires; the second set will be performed by the Williams College Jazz Quintet, featuring alto saxophonist Kris Allen.

Allen has performed with many legends, including Illinois Jacquet, Gerald Wilson, Curtis Fuller, and Andy Gonzales, as well as with modern stars such as Helen Sung, Winard Harper, Jeremy Pelt, Andy Laverne, the Mingus Dynasty, and Mario Pavone. He continues to compose and arrange and to hone his skills as a bandleader, and apprenticing as a sideman. In addition to being a first-call musician on his instrument, Allen is a Lyell B. Clay Artist in Residence in Jazz at Williams College, a Lecturer in Music, and is the director of the Williams Jazz Ensemble.

The focus on student jazz musicians continues on Monday, Apr. 14, when the Berkshire Music School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of bassist Andy Wrba will perform at Mission Bar y Tapas on North Street in Pittsfield. The ensemble’s 6pm performance (free admission, first come first seated) will precede Wrba’s regular Jazz at Mission set.

Spring Jazz Crawl

The Jazz Appreciation Month activities continue on the weekend of Apr. 25-27, with a two-evening Spring Jazz Crawl in downtown Pittsfield (Fri-Sat, Apr. 25-26), and a CD release event at Castle Street Café in Great Barrington.

Popularized over the past decade in the annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival in mid-October, the Jazz Crawl is co-sponsored by the City of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development and Berkshires Jazz, Inc. Over the course of the two evenings, Apr. 25-26, a dozen venues will be featuring the best of locally-based jazz artists, in a sequence that will enable fans to hear several performers in the same evening. The full schedule will be posted and updated regularly at

Armen Donelian rolls out double CD

Pianist Armen Donelian rolls out his new double CD with a performance at Castle Street Café in Great Barrington on Sunday, Apr. 27. In this new recording by Donelian, Sayat-Nova’s exquisite 18th Century troubadour melodies are preserved, transformed through an alchemy of contemporary Jazz harmony and polyrhythm, and polished with a Classical aesthetic. Attendees will be invited to meet with the artist after the concert, when a CD autograph session will take place.

The Jazz Appreciation Month activities conclude on April 30, which is celebrated worldwide as International Jazz Day, when Berkshires Jazz will announce the winners of its annual Student Art Contest. With participants from all four of the high schools in the City –Miss Hall’s, St. Joseph’s, Taconic and Pittsfield— the winning entry becomes the graphic design symbol of the Pittfsield CityJazz Festival, which takes place in mid-October. The announcement takes place at 5:30pm at the Berkshire Museum, and will feature a performance by the Pittsfield High School Jazz Ensemble. Light refreshments will be served.

Berkshires Jazz, Inc. is an all-volunteer non-profit organization whose mission is to present jazz events and encourage jazz education in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.