NEJE WILL PLAY THE PITTSFIELD JAZZ FESTIVAL OCTOBER 13th, 2012 at the Colonial Theatre 8pm, Tickets $15-25
Lineup Announced for 8th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, Oct. 5-13
PITTSFIELD, Mass., – Berkshires Jazz has announced the lineup for its eighth annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, which takes place Oct. 5-13, 2012 in various venues around the city’s Upstreet Cultural District. Spanning two weekends, the festival highlights include:
• Jazz About Town, on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 5-7. This “jazz crawl” features local musicians in restaurants and lounges throughout downtown (venues to be announced).
• Jazz Prodigy Adam O’Farrill
• The Jazz Arts Trio, and
• The New England Jazz Ensemble with guest soloists Giacomo Gates and Ali Ryerson,.
O’Farrill, a trumpet player who is garnering accolades across the northeast, is son of renowned pianist Arturo O’Farrill. He will appear at the Berkshire Athenaeum in an Oct. 10 concert sponsored by the Friends of the Athanaeum (7pm, free). His quartet has appeared at significant jazz venues in New York, and he will be making his Berkshires debut at the festival.
The headline weekend opens on Friday, Oct. 12 with the Jazz Arts Trio, headed by the remarkable concert pianist Frederick Moyer. What can safely be called the only jazz group of its kind, the Jazz Arts Trio, through note–for–note transcriptions of historic moments in piano jazz, is keeping alive music that otherwise would live on only in recordings. Their latest CD, Swing of Many Colors, includes a full re-performance of Ahmad Jamal’s landmark album But Not For Me: Live at the Pershing. The Jazz Arts Trio will appear at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center on Friday, Oct. 12, and is a collaborative presentation with Barrington Stage Co. (8pm, $20).
The New England Jazz Ensemble is a 16-piece big band whose repertoire will include material from the band’s latest CD, recorded live in performance in Hartford, Connecticut. They appeared at the first Pittsfield CityJazz Festival in 2006, putting the festival on the map when they issued a recording from that performance.
A renowned jazz/blues vocalist, Giacomo Gates’ will be a guest artist with the New England Jazz Ensemble. His CD Luminosity spent over three months in the top 20 of the Jazz Week charts; his latest recording, The Revolution Will Be Jazz, a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron, was the most-played CD on jazz radio for 7 consecutive weeks in 2011. Gates has been nominated as Jazz Vocalist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.
Guest soloist Ali Ryerson has emerged as one of the most exciting and versatile flutists on the scene. She has performed with such diverse talents as Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, Stephane Grappelli, Frank Wess, and (as principal flutist with the Monterey Bay Symphony) with Luciano Pavarotti. She put alto flute in the spotlight in her years of duet concerts and recordings with guitarist Joe Beck.
The New England Jazz Ensemble with Giacomo Gates and Ali Ryerson will appear with the Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Colonial Theatre, (8pm, $15-25).
Tickets and additional information at www.BerkshiresJazz.org or 413-442-7718.
About Berkshires Jazz
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, which remains a signature event of the Fall Foliage season in western Massachusetts.
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Media contact: Ed Bride, 413-442-7718 (Ed@berkshiresjazz.org)
IT’S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SWINGING hits WBGU’s CMJ Jazz Top 20,
March 12, 2012
Under the Auspices of the Greater Middletown Concert Association
NEW ENGLAND JAZZ ENSEMBLE COMES TO MIDDLETOWN FEBRUARY 12
- MIDDLETOWN MUSICIANS OF THE BIG BAND ERA TO BE REMEMBERED AT CONCERT -
The 16-piece New England Jazz Ensemble, well-known for its goal of perpetuating the
uniquely American large jazz ensemble as an art medium, will appear on the stage of Middletown’s MHS Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12, at 3:00 p.m.
This group is noted for featuring original and contemporary jazz arrangements and compositions. In the concert on February 12th the New England Jazz Ensemble will also offer, with some special musical numbers, a tribute to Middletown musicians of the Big Band era. A ceremony organized to honor the many Middletown musicians of that era will also be part of that Sunday afternoon program.
The ensemble was founded in 1991 by trumpeter Mike Jones, and has been led since then by Music Director Walt Gwardyak. Their concerts have been given in many areas of the United States and abroad as well as throughout New England.
The Greater Middletown Concert Association is the organization bringing the New England Jazz Ensemble to Middletown’s new 700-seat MHS Performing Arts Center, 200 LaRosa Lane (opposite 680 Newfield Street). “We are urging relatives as well as fellow musicians and friends … of those early Middletown performers of the 30s through to the 50s and 60s to contact us at our website: www.GreaterMiddletownConcerts.org, or by
phone: 860 347-4887, with any information or souvenirs that would add to the tribute being prepared as part of the February 12th concert,” urges Barbara Arafeh, president, and Richard Wrubel, vice president, of the Greater Middletown Concert Association.
Tickets are available now for this special concert and occasion to take place on Sunday, February 12th at 3 p.m. Prices are $30 (front section) or $25 (rear section). Student and group prices are available. For tickets call 860 347-4887, 860 346-3369 or send checks to: Greater Middletown Concert Association, P.O. Box 2622, Middletown, CT 06457. All major credit cards are accepted. Website: www.GreaterMiddletownConcerts.org.
FBBJ looks at (listens to) “Grand Night…”
First some decoding. The words “jazz ensemble” here mean big band. As in five saxes, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, bass, drums, 3 guest soloists and one announcer. The disk is titled It’s A Grand Night for Swinging. Details can be found at http://www.neje.org The three guests are Ali Ryerson on flute, vocalist Giacomo Gates and guitarist John Abercrombie.
First kudos should go to the announcer, a certain Ed Bride from the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Ed gives you the needed details about all the tunes – song title, composer, arranger, names of the soloists, Greenwich Mean Time and the barometric pressure. Why have an announcer? Because the entire disk was done live in performance. And it was not cherry picked from the best takes done over a week’s residence at a club. All the music comes from one concert.
And this is what strikes me most about this release. The performance by the ensemble, the big band is very together, tight, solid, swinging, at a very high level. If you listen closely, you can’t fake this. Either the band has its act together or it doesn’t. The NEJE is definitely cookin’ on high heat here.
Another plus is that all the arrangements come from band members, namely trumpet player Jeff Holmes, alto saxophonist John Mastroianni and pianist Walt Gwardyk. When most or all the arrangements come from the band members, it bodes well for more CDs from that band. It usually means there is a deep well of ideas for more fresh arrangements to draw from.
I believe Jeff Holmes is playing the lead trumpet chair. It sounds to me like he is doing a very good job, but I will leave the judgement on that to others who are more qualified than I am.
I should note that this is NOT the first recording by the NEJE. There are several others, which can be found on their web site.
Based on the charts and the ensemble alone, this is one of the better regional big bands. Check it out.
*News Update 10/06/2011*
Listen to Walt Gwardyak talk to Mark Channon about the NEJE and the celebration of 20 years of fabulous entertainment!
New England Jazz Ensemble
The New England Jazz Ensemble is a large jazz orchestra comprising regionally based artists. The group features original and contemporary jazz arrangements and compositions. Much of the band’s material is generated by the ensemble’s members. It is a performance group as well as a composer’s forum.
The Goals of the New England Jazz Ensemble
* To perpetuate the uniquely American large jazz ensemble as an art medium
* To encourage the writing of new work for large jazz ensemble
* To reach culturally diverse audiences and to educate the public about jazz
* To share the band’s wealth of expertise with the public in the form of concerts,
educational forums and programs, guest performances and recordings
* To support the opportunities for professional jazz artists to be employed
in their specific areas of expertise in order to maintain the integrity of
the jazz community in our region.
Board of Directors
Robert Balchunas, President
Ed Bride, Secretary
Claudia Bell, Vice President
Jeffrey W. Holmes
Gregory Laxer, Vice President
Ann Mastroianni, Treasurer