Growing up in western Massachusetts in a musical family, Sprague began playing piano at age 13. He won several awards in Downbeat Magazine's Student Music Awards, including best original composition in 2002 and 2004. He performed extensively in New England before moving to New York City in 2003 to attend the Manhattan School of Music.
In 2012 he was selected to attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA, a prestigious, tuition-free jazz masters program that accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class. He returns to the Berkshires for his first gig after just finishing the two-year program, in which only seven musicians were accepted.
One of the Institute's earliest goals was to create a unique college- level jazz program where the masters of jazz could pass on their expertise to the next generation of jazz musicians the way Thelonious Monk had done in his Manhattan apartment throughout the '50s and '60s. In September 1995, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance was launched and the first class of seven students began their intensive training with some of the world's greatest musicians.
Sprague has appeared on a dozen CDs, four of them as a leader. His return to the Berkshires features him in a trio setting, with Marty Jaffe on bass and Alex Snydman on drums.
Jazz at Baba Louie’s is a production of Berkshires Jazz, Inc., a non-profit organization formed to present jazz events and promote jazz education in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The concert opens the second-half 2014 programming for Berkshires Jazz, which also sponsors the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival and other year- round events.
Baba Louie’s Backroom, 34 Depot St., Pittsfield. Saturday, July 19, 8pm (tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door). Information and programming updates can be found at BerkshiresJazz.org, where tickets are currently on sale.