PITTSFIELD, MA, Sept. 26, 2005 -- Mayor James M. Roberto today announced Legacy Banks Pittsfield CityJazz, the first downtown Pittsfield jazz festival. The events at the Berkshire Music Hall, Oct. 14-16, will present traditional and mainstream Jazz over two evening concerts, one of which will be recorded for issuance on CD. Several local establishments are expected to announce independent Jazz-related events throughout the weekend.
"This is just another great cultural event that we're bringing to downtown Pittsfield," said Ruberto. "I expect this event at the Berkshire Music Hall to become an annual event during the foliage season, when our residents and visitors can come and enjoy all this great city has to offer."
The Friday concert will feature the first Pittsfield appearance of the New Black Eagle Jazz Band, the country's preeminent exponent of traditional Jazz. On Saturday, Oct. 15, the New England Jazz Ensemble returns to Pittsfield, and will record its fourth CD "live." Vocalist Joyce Breach and the Keith Ingham Duo will also be featured in the Saturday concert.
J. Williar Dunlaevy, chairman and CEO of Legacy Banks, said, "This jazz festival is another great example of the renaissance of downtown Pittsfield, and we are pleased to partner with Mayor Ruberto and the City to make it happen Legacy Banks is committed to Pittsfield and the Berkshires, and this sponsorship is another dimension of our investment in the community. We have heard the Black Eagles Jazz Band several times at Ozawa Hall on the Tanglewood campus, and we are thrilled to now help bring them to Downtown Pittsfield."
Besides Legacy Banks, co-sponsors with the City of Pittsfield include the Berkshire Music School, Brix Wine Bar, Barrington Stage Co., Berkshire Bank, Downtown, Inc., The Gables, and others to be named.
The Friday concert (Oct. 14, 8pm) marks the return of the New Black Eagles Jazz Band to the Berkshires. They have appeared at Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow, and other regional venues, but have not performed in western Massachusetts in the past several years, nor ever in Pittsfield. Although the band's sound was developed in casual settings such as Passim's in Cambridge and the legendary Sticky Wicket Pub in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, about half of their appearances in any year are in a concert setting.
The Black Eagles have played throughout the United States and in Europe, for schools, weddings, workshops and broadcast for PBS and NPR. PBS has also used them for TV shows such as "Roaring Through The 20's," in which they were featured with Claude Hopkins and Bobby Short. They also appeared on PBS' "This Old House."
Over nearly two human generations, the band has had almost no turnover. The renowned New York Times critic John S. Wilson once wrote that the band is "so far ahead of other traditional bands.there is scarcely any basis for comparison."
Saturday's concert (Oct. 15, 7:30pm) is a double bill, with the famed New York vocalist Joyce Breach and the Keith Ingham duo, followed by the New England Jazz Ensemble.
Writing in the NY Observer, Rex Reed described Breach as "a throaty peach [who] has been adding a new luster to Manhattan's after-dark scene. Her husky voice, superb taste in songs, and unique way with a classy tune are worth waiting for."
Breach, who lives in New York, was winner of the 2000 MAC Award for Best Jazz Performer and winner of the 1998 Bistro Award for Best CD ["This Moment"]. She is an accomplished and sophisticated interpreter of classic American popular song.
The New England Jazz Ensemble was formed in 1991 as a weekly rehearsal band and forum for new compositions by regionally-based artists. Over the years, it has also evolved into a professional performance group. It has three CDs to its name, including Duke Ellington's adaptation of The Nutcracker, which was a highlight when the Ensemble perf