Jazz Festivals

Pittsfield City Jazz Festival
Fri, Oct 6 ~ Sun, Oct 15

Generic festival
Oct 6-15 in Pittsfield MA

Fri, Oct 6 ~ Sun, Oct 15

Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Tickets and information

Berkshires Jazz, Inc. has announced the lineup for the 13th annual Pittsfield CityJAZZ Festival, which runs Oct. 6-15 at various venues throughout the city’s Upstreet Cultural District. The wide-ranging lineup is headlined by a 100th birthday tribute to Dizzy Gillespie; an appearance of New Orleans (now Berkshires) favorites Samirah Evans with Charles Neville; the annual “jazz crawl;” and a new discovery in the organization’s Jazz Prodigy series.

Things kick off on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6-8, with Jazz About Town, the annual jazz crawl featuring local musicians in restaurants and lounges. The holiday weekend concludes with a jazz brunch on Oct. 8 at The Rainbow Restaurant. Dates, details, and locations will be updated at www.BerkshiresJazz.org.

After the full weekend of Jazz About Town, festivities continue with the Jazz Prodigy concert, marking an early start on headline weekend on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at the Berkshire Athenaeum. The free concert, sponsored by the Friends of the Athenaeum, will introduce the remarkable pianist Caelan Cardello to Berkshires audiences. A senior at Teaneck (N.J.) High School, Cardello was a discovery of Jazz House Kids, a nationally renowned after-school program in Newark.

Headline concerts take place on Oct. 13-14, and the festival concludes with a jazz brunch on Sunday, Oct. 15.

As part of its Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, a local group of professional musicians, the Pittsfield Sister City Jazz Ambassadors, visits elementary and middle schools in the county, educating and entertaining students.


Onetime New Orleans vocalist Samirah Evans opens the headline weekend on Oct. 13, at Flavours of Malaysia (8pm). One of the most popular jazz and blues vocalists in pre-Katrina New Orleans, 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.

Hurricane Katrina caused Samirah and her husband to seek out new living arrangements, and they moved to his native town of Brattleboro, Vermont in the fall of 2006. She has toured Europe, Asia, and both North and South America as a headliner, and shared stages with a multitude of legendary artists from Sheila Jordan, B.B. King, and James Brown to New Orleans own Charles Neville, and the 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.

Guest soloist Charles Neville provides a special treat. The second oldest brother of the famed New Orleans musical family, his experience on saxophone has included rhythm & blues, funk, jazz, be-bop, popular and even American Indian music.

Evans’ 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. For the jazz festival audience, Flavours is offering special dinner pricing of $15, with three choices from their most popular entrees. 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.

Berkshires Jazz celebrates Dizzy Gillespie’s 100th birthday on Oct. 14 (Colonial Theatre, 7:30pm), with a performance by the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, a 6-piece ensemble led by his long-term bassist John Lee.

The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience 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.

The musicians are drawn from the high-caliber pool of New York-based talent that frequent the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and All-Star groups, including trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, 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.

The Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble, comprising selected student musicians from Herberg and Reid Middle Schools, among others, opens the musical proceedings at 7:30pm. Tickets ranges from $23-38.

The Oct. 15 jazz brunch is at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge.