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Pittsfield Cityjazz Festival Enters the Home Stretch

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5th Annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival Enters Home Stretch With
Weekend of Headline Concerts, Educational Experiences

PITTSFIELD, Mass., Oct. 13, 2009 The Industrial Jazz Group, the Frank Vignola Trio, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet highlight the final weekend of the fifth annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, Oct. 15-18. After a rousing start on Oct. 7 with Royal Hartigan and blood drum spirit, plus the city of Pittsfield's official Eagles Stage Band, the 12-day festival heads for the home stretch with a memorable series of free and ticketed events.

The “headline weekend" will last for four days, starting on Oct. 15 with Pittsfields Third Thursday festivities, which will feature the California-based Industrial Jazz Group. The IJG pioneered the concept of avant-garde party music," demonstrating that music can indeed be complex, sophisticated, sexy, fun, funny, critical, smart, and groovy all at once. Their free performance will take place outdoors, weather permitting (or indoors at the Berkshire Museum).

Also on Oct. 15, guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola will conduct a master class at the Berkshire Music School, 30 Wendell Ave., in Pittsfield. Intermediate guitarists and above are invited to bring an instrument that can be played without amplification. The class begins at 7:15pm; admission is $20, and is open both to students and the general public.

In addition to his master class, this years Jazz in Schools program will be enhanced by two special appearances by Frank Vignola on Oct. 16, at Taconic and Pittsfield High Schools. The free concerts are underwritten by a grant from the Berkshire Bank Foundation.

On Friday, Oct. 16, Vignola will appear at the Top of the Crowne, the lounge overlooking Pittsfield from the top floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Vignola plays all forms of music, from Django Reinhardt to bluegrass, and the variety of his performances have created a strong fan base of all ages. Tickets for the 7:30 concert are $20.

Brubeck, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his groundbreaking Time Out album, which included the hit Take 5, will appear with his quartet at the Colonial Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble, a 16-piece big band assembled for the occasion, will open for Brubeck and will perform with him. The concert starts at 8pm, and tickets are $25 and $15.

“It is thrilling to present the legendary Brubeck, whose 'Take 5' is probably the most recognized jazz composition in the history of this wonderful music," said Ed Bride, president of Berkshires Jazz, Inc., sponsors of the festival. “Our audiences will once again hear the legendary 1894 Hamburg Steinway, a gift to the Colonial Theatre in memory of Franoise Nunnalle', a woman who loved the performing arts, and was committed to education," said Bride. Brubeck appears through the generosity of the Chervenak-Nunnalle' Foundation.

In recognition of the Brubeck milestone, several establishments are observing Pittsfield's first “Restaurant Week," offering special meals or other deals for the same price of $19.59.

An annual festival highlight is Jazz In Schools, spanning the 12-day jazzathon and beyond, presenting performances, demonstrations, and discussions by the Pittsfield Sister City Jazz Ambassadors. This group is headed by guitarist and teacher Andy Kelly, and will visit 12 schools in and around Pittsfield. A donation from Greylock Federal Credit Union allows this program to continue at no cost to students or the school system.

The entire jazz-education effort falls under the “Legends and Learners" initiative, and is sponsored by the aforementioned financial institutions, plus TD Bank and Target.

The festival concludes on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 18, with an open Jazz Jam at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Ave. in Pittsfield. Piano and drums are provided, and musicians of all levels of skill and experience are welcome.

On Columbus weekend, Oct. 9-11, the festival featured its popular Jazz About Town series, with restaurants and lounges presenting local musicians and all genres of instrumental and vocal jazz. Restaurant owners have reported increased attendance and longer visits by patrons on the nights when they have participated in this aspect.

Tickets for the Oct. 16 and 17 concerts are on sale at the Colonial Theatre box office, 413-997-4444, and online through the festival's web site, BerkshiresJazz.org.

The Pittsfield CityJazz Festival was formed in 2005 to present mainstream and traditional jazz in a downtown setting. Over its first four years, the festival has presented such headline talent as NEA Jazz Masters Billy Taylor and Phil Woods; up-and-coming artists such as Grace Kelly; individual standouts such as TS Monk, Jr., Claire Daly, Peggy Stern, Winard Harper and Barbara Dennerlein. The New England Jazz Ensemble released a live recording of that bands appearance at the festival.

In 2009, the festival steering committee established Berkshires Jazz, Inc., a non-profit organization whose twofold mission is to present live jazz events and promote jazz education within Berkshire County.

This story appears courtesy of Ed Bride Associates.
Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

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