The Pittsfield City Jazz Festival today announced the lineup for an expanded 10-day event that kicks off on Columbus Day weekend and presents the best of both local and international performers. The fourth annual festival, Oct. 10-19, will feature “Jazz around town,” highlighting regionally-based artists on Oct. 10-12; Jazz in School, with week-long performances and presentations in Pittsfield’s public schools; and a series of headliner concerts.
Events comprise a variety of formats, and will take place at several venues throughout downtown Pittsfield, the seat of Berkshire County in western Massachusetts. Many events are free to the public, starting with a noon-hour kickoff on Friday, Oct. 10, with the Eagles Stage Band, the Jazz unit of Pittsfield’s own Eagles Band. Columbus weekend then features local performers in restaurants and lounges around Pittsfield.
Concerts get under way on Wednesday, Oct. 15, when the Noah Baerman Trio performs at the Berkshire Athenaeum. Baerman is a pianist, composer, and educator, and has several CDs to his name. He recently was profiled on NPR’s Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland. Attendance is free.
On Thursday, Oct. 16, acclaimed composer Evan Lurie premieres his “Improvisations on ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’,” in a free concert at the Berkshire Museum. Written for the Festival, Lurie’s work is part of Pittsfield’s “Big Read” project, underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts. A founding member of the Lounge Lizards, Lurie is the musical director of Nickelodeon’s Emmy Award-winning preschool show, The Backyardigans, and will be appearing with his septet of accomplished NY-based musicians.
The Oct. 17 concert features “Jazz Meets Symphony,” with the New Black Eagle Jazz Band and the Pittsfield CityJazz Youth Orchestra, at the historic Colonial Theatre. In addition to a full set by themselves, the Black Eagles will perform several of their traditional Jazz pieces that have been adapted for small symphony, with an orchestra comprising student musicians from Berkshire County high schools in Pittsfield, Dalton, Great Barrington, Lee, and Lenox.
For the first time, the festival will feature an evening of Jazz Vocals, spotlighting the groups of Terry Roiger and Ron Gill. Roiger has made a name for herself with the repertoire of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, while Gill has just released a CD of songs by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. The Jazz vocalists will perform on Saturday, Oct. 18, in a cabaret setting at Pittsfield’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The headliner performances conclude on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 19, with “Organic Jazz, the Two Faces of Barbara Dennerlein” showcasing her formidable solo talents at the pipe organ and Hammond B3. The concert is presented under the sponsorship of the Berkshire Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Germany-based Dennerlein, who is famous for her prowess in playing the baseline on the pedals, is concluding her first American tour with this matinee performance at Pittsfield’s First Baptist Church.