Pittsfield CityJazz Festival to Celebrate Dizzy Gillespie’s 100th Birthday

Festival in Berkshires includes performances by the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, Samirah Evans with Charles Neville and others

Dizzy Gillespie image 0

Dizzy Gillespie

The 13th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival will be held Oct. 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 (Oct. 6-8), with a club crawl called Jazz About Town at various venues. The Jazz Prodigy Concert, a free event, follows on Oct. 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 Oct. 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, who came to fame along 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 Oct. 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, Oct. 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.

For more information about the festival, visit the Berkshires Jazz website.