May 25, 2024

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CityJazz Festival 2017: A centennial tribute to Dizzy Gillespie: Video

The 13th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival will be held October 6-15 and includes a centennial tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, as well as performances by the vocalist Samirah Evans with saxophonist and fellow New Orleans native Charles Neville. 

The event is produced by Berkshires Jazz which earlier this year saluted three other jazz figures who were born 100 years ago: Ella Fitzgerald (part of the Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend in June); Buddy Rich (on July 22); Thelonious Monk (on August 12, with the Ted Rosenthal Quintet).

The festival begins on Columbus Day weekend (October 6-8), with a club crawl called Jazz About Town at venues around the town.  The Jazz Prodigy Concert, a free event, follows on October 11 featuring the pianist Caelan Cardello, a senior at Teaneck High School in New Jersey and a product of the remarkable Jazz House Kids program created by Melissa Walker.

Headline concerts take place on the following weekend, kicking off on October 13 at Flavours of Malaysia with a performance from vocalist Samirah Evans, who relocated from New Orleans to Vermont, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Evans will be joined by special guest Charles Neville, along came to fame with Art, Cyrille and Aaron as the Neville Brothers. Backing Evans and Neville will be Miro Sprague (piano), Mary Ann McSweeney (bass) and Conor Meehan (drums).

The Dizzy Gillespie tribute on October 14 (at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield) features a performance by the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, a six-piece ensemble led by his long-term bassist John Lee. The band includes trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, saxophonist Sharel Cassity, Brazilian pianist/vocalist Abelita Mateus, drummer Tommy Campbell and percussionist Roger Squitero.

The festival concludes on Sunday, October 15 with a jazz brunch.  Throughout the week, the Pittsfield Sister City Jazz Ambassadors, a local group, visits elementary and middle schools in the county, educating and entertaining students.

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