The weekend kicks off at 6pm on Thursday, July 25 with the screening of “A Life in E Flat, ” a biographical profile of the legendary alto saxophonist, NEA Jazz Master and 4-time Grammy winner Phil Woods. Through a special arrangement with Jazzed Media, producers of jazz films and CDs, the screening at the Lee Library on Main Street is free and open to the public.
The festival includes two headline concerts in the striking performance space at First Congregational Church, 25 Park Place. Freddie Bryant & Kaleidoscope appear on Friday, July 26 at 8pm; and the Greg Caputo Big Band with special guest Phil Woods takes to the stage on Saturday, July 27 at 7:30pm. Tickets for these two concerts, $25 each, or $40 for both, are on sale at the Chamber of Commerce information booth in downtown Lee; at Qwik Print, Great Barrington, and Wood Brothers store in Pittsfield and online at Berkshire Gateway Jazz. Information at 413-243-1033.
In addition to the two headline concerts, the weekend is spangled with free events, starting with the Thursday movie, continuing with art exhibit, and a series of “Jazz in the Alley” concerts next to Spectrum Theatre:
The first of the al fresco events is on Friday afternoon, July 26, 2-4pm with a performance by the Berkshire Jazz Collective, featuring Andy Wrba and other musicians from the area;
“Jazz in the Alley” resumes on Saturday, July 27 with an outdoor art exhibit, plus a noontime concert featuring a quintet of local jazz performers including Rich Vinette, Stan Pyrzanowski, Josh Kleederman, Jack DiNicola and Ted Murray;
Also on July 27, Andy Kelly's Jazz Ambassadors, a roaming New Orleans-style group, will be strolling downtown in various locations along Main Street starting at 1pm, kicking off at Baja Charlie’s and finishing in the alley next to Spectrum Theatre;
The festivities conclude on Sunday July 28with a Jazz Brunch at the Starving Artist Creperie, 40 Main St,, 11am-1pm. Lee.
With schooling in Brazilian music, classical and jazz, Freddie Bryant’s art is starting to challenge traditional labels. His talents are now being sought out by artists from diverse background ranging from trumpet great Tom Harrell to the Mingus Orchestra, vocalist Eliane Elias to Klezmer virtuoso clarinetist Giora Feidman. The repertoire of his ensemble Kaleidoscope will include much of the music from their latest CD, “Live Grooves.”
Described as “the keeper of the big band flame,” drummer Gregory Caputo fronts a 16-piece unit that will perform a salute to some of the biggest bands of the jazz era. His program, “Benny Goodman to Gordon Goodwin,” will feature the NEA Jazz Master and multiple Grammy Award winner Phil Woods, who returns to the Berkshires after two appearances at the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival in 2006 and 2011. Woods, a multiple Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master, is a guest artist on Caputo’s CD “Velocity,” and their performance (Saturday, July 27, 7:30pm) will include much of the material from that live recording.
Additional events, including programming in some local restaurants, will be announced on the festival website, BerkshireGatewayJazz.com, where tickets are also available.
The Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend had its premiere last September, under the direction of Rich Vinette. Earlier this year, Berkshire Gateway Preservation, Inc. and Berkshires Jazz, Inc. combined efforts on this event, moving it to the peak weekend of the tourist season. Other performers to be announced. The weekend is funded in large part through the grants of generous sponsors, including Adams Community Bank, Limelight Productions, Onyx Specialty Papers, Consolati Insurance, Big Y Foods, Inc., and the Berkshire Eagle.