Trio will perform in a special headline concert on Feb. 15, during the city’s third annual 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival. In his Pittsfield performance (Baba Louie’s Backroom 34 Depot Street, 8pm), Gerson puts his unique spin on jazz compositions that were popularized by 10 different jazz pianists over the decades, from historic to current.
To be held throughout the city’s Upstreet Cultural District from February 13-23, 2014, the 10-themed festival will feature signature programming such as 10 short plays that were written specifically for the event; an art auction of pieces that measure 10x10 inches, and other performing and visual art innovations. In his first-time program, pianist Gerson, who has appeared on screen or on the sound tracks of a dozen movies, takes the works of 10 different jazz pianist/composers and re-imagines them in his own inimitable style. The 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival marks his Pittsfield debut.
With a style that ranges from mellow to frenzied, Gerson has been described as “Little Richard meets Oscar Peterson.” He has captivated North American music fans with his unique treatment of jazz standards and rarities.
Gerson attended the Manhattan School of Music as a classical piano major, and soon fell under the sway of the sounds of Lester Young, Buddy Rich, the “Jazz at the Philharmonic” recordings and, above all, the pure entertainment potency of Louis Armstrong. He moved quickly and easily into the professional arena, gigging with traditional jazz bands and becoming one of the most in-demand performers. He headlined the top jazz clubs in New York, such as the Village Gate, Blue Note, Tavern on the Green, and a two-year stint at the club Zanzibar. He appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s film “The Cotton Club,” swinging some of the classics of the Harlem Renaissance. Soon after, he was hired by Woody Allen for a cameo in Crimes and Misdemeanors, and has appeared in more than a dozen subsequent films.
The Chicago Tribune assessed Gerson thusly: “Supremely talented, Gerson knows how to royally entertain…energetic renditions of timeless classics…melody, passion, and improvisation all come together in one glorious package.”
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and are available now at Berkshires Jazz. Dinner will be available separately at Baba Louie’s main dining room starting at 5pm, or in the Backroom when the doors open at 7pm. Baba Louie’s Backroom is fast becoming the most vibrant room for ‘live’ music in Pittsfield, in the heart of the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.
Last winter’s 10X10 festival creatively enlivened downtown Pittsfield and drew more than 6,500 patrons to the city (more than doubling the attendance at the inaugural festival in 2012) to experience more than 75 performances, events and art exhibits.
Berkshires Jazz, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to present jazz events and encourage jazz education in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. It was formed in 2008, as an outgrowth of the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, a signature event of the Fall Foliage season in western Massachusetts.