(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – “Jazz Appreciation Month” will be marked by Berkshires Jazz with CD release concerts by baritone saxophonist Claire Daly and Jeff Holmes, along with several other jazz-related events, including concerts, workshops, open rehearsals, and a jazz-themed Student Art Contest.
The two CD release concerts are on consecutive Fridays: on March 29, 2013, baritone saxophonist Claire Daly performs music from her highly-touted new recording, “Baritone Monk,” at Berkshire Museum’s performance space, 39 South St., Pittsfield; on the following Friday, April 5, 2013, Jeff Holmes brings his quartet to Baba Louie’s Backroom, closing out another in Pittsfield’s increasingly popular First Fridays Artswalks.
In addition to the CD release party, Holmes will conduct a workshop and rehearsal with the Pittsfield High School Jazz Ensemble, in advance of their appearance at the Berkshire Museum on April 11.
Berkshires Jazz will announce the winning entry in its annual Student Art Contest at a 5pm reception on April 11. The winning artwork will become the graphic symbol for the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, which takes place in mid-October. All entries will be on display at Berkshire Museum for the April 11 announcement. The PHS Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Ronald A. Lively, will perform several selections during that reception (light refreshments included), which has become an annual highlight of the local observance of Jazz Appreciation Month.
The activities continue on the First Friday of May, when the Williams College Jazz Group performs in a free concert at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts. The 7:30pm concert will begin as the First Friday Artswalk concludes on May 3.
Claire Daly’s “Baritone Monk” explores the work of the legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, and has been heralded as among the most important releases in the past year. Sponsored in part by North Coast Brewing, which supported the recording project, “Baritone Monk” has been well-received by the media and is getting solid airplay nationally. “Unless you’ve been comatose these past few years, you must be aware that Claire Daly has established herself as one of our most compelling and creative voices on the baritone saxophone,” wrote Bob Bernotas in JazzImprov Magazine.
The performance of the Claire Daly Quartet is a first-time event at Berkshire Museum, representing the conclusion of a northeast tour by Daly, a perennial poll-winning performer. Her career has included anchoring the sax section in the Diva Big Band for seven years, freelancing in New York doing every imaginable kind of gig, recording a dozen CDs. She has appeared twice at the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, headlining her own quartet at the Women in Jazz night (2007) and with the American Jazz Repertory Orchestra (2010).
Daly is a six-time winner of the Downbeat Critic’s Poll “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition,” and having achieved that recognition, has also been the winner of the Jazz Journalist Association “Baritone Sax of the Year” award.
A week later, on Friday, April 5, Berkshires Jazz hosts a CD release event at Baba Louie’s Backroom, featuring Jeff Holmes, one of the most significant composers and performers on the jazz scene. Holmes’ latest CD, “Of One’s Own,” a combination of jazz standards and original compositions, is his first in a small-group setting. Among the positive reviews of this new CD, JazzTimes writes, “Listeners are in for a treat, as the music washes over you and sweeps you away with its vibrant artistry.”
Holmes’ performing credits include Billy Taylor, the Paul Winter Consort, the New York Latin All-Stars, the New England Jazz Ensemble, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, and his own Big Band. He has written for such artists as John Abercrombie, Ernie Watts, Max Roach, Sheila Jordan, and Yusef Lateef. He is also lead trumpeter and composer for The New England Jazz Ensemble, which recorded its first ‘live’ album at the initial Pittsfield CityJazz Festival in 2005, and which performed here again in 2012.
Holmes’s quartet appears for the first time at Baba Louie’s, 34 Depot Street, as part of the “First Fridays Artswalk” activities in downtown Pittsfield. His appearance is supported in part by a grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council. Advance purchase strongly advised.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History launched Jazz Appreciation Month (“JAM”) in 2001 as an annual event that pays tribute to jazz both as a historic and living American art form. It has since grown to include celebrations in all 50 states and 40 other countries. In celebrating JAM, the museum joins with a diverse group of organizations, institutions, corporations, associations and federal agencies that have provided financial and in-kind support, as well as organizing programs and outreach of their own.
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. Updates and ticket information are available at Berkshires Jazz.