Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend will take place June 17-19 this year in downtown Lee, “the gateway to the Berkshires”. The tenth anniversary of the festival will be highlighted by two headline concerts at the Lee Congregational Church, two jazz brunches, and an afternoon of outdoor jazz featuring local groups. The festival is resuming full-scall activities after the two-year pandemic hiatus.
The weekend kicks-off Friday evening, June 17, with a concert by Michael Benedict and Bopitude, a swinging quintet that both plays familiar tunes and uncovers hard-bop material that has had little or no exposure. Bringing a 21st century approach to this important era of Jazz, the group features a veritable who’s-who of New York capital-area artists, including Chris Pasin (trumpet); Brian Patneaude (tenor sax); Bruce Barth (piano); Mike Lawrence (bass); and Michael Benedict (drums and leader).
Five-time Grammy nominee Karrin Allyson headlined the inaugural Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend in 2012, and returns for the capstone concert with guest artist Houston Person on tenor sax. Allyson has built a mastery of The Great American Songbook, blues, pop, be-bop, Brazilian, and French chansons, to name a few. With fifteen albums released so far, her range and creativity seem to have no bounds. Her quartet features Houston Person on sax, guitarist Jason Ennis, bassist Marty Jaffe, and the inimitable Karrin as leader, vocalist, and pianist.
The headline concerts start at 7:30pm on each day. Tickets for each concert are $30 in advance, $35 on the day of the event, and are available online. Tickets will also be available June 1 at the Lee Chamber information booth during normal business hours.
Jazz in the Park, Saturday, June 18, 11:30am-4pm, is free, and will take place in the new performance pavilion on the Lee Common. There is also no music charge for the jazz brunches, which will be held at Starving Artist Café’ on both Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, 11am-2pm. The regular brunch menu will be available.
There’s not a bad seat in the house at the Lee Congregational Church, but seating is limited, and festival planners are recommending advance purchase. For regular updates, the schedules for the jazz brunches and jazz in the park, and a link to the online box office, visit https://berkshiregatewayjazz.org/.
Attendees will be asked to adhere to Tri-Town Health Department pandemic protocol guidelines in place at the time.