Since the official opening of Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base in Reading, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 2004, jazz aficionados have been pleased to be entertained by an assortment of talented musicians from near and far away. The Jazz Base was a key venue during the ten day Berks Jazz Fest in March, and no one is surprised that the line-up of great music will continue every Thursday evening throughout the summer.
Fans may not realize, however, that the Jazz Base is now the home of the officially designated Berks Summer Jazz Series. This series, which includes every show held at the Jazz Base, will also highlight an impressive selection of some very well-known artists throughout the summer.
The Berks Summer Jazz Series was kicked off this past Thursday evening with Chuck Loeb, a musician who is familiar to Berks Jazz Fest crowds as the one who arranges and leads the Berks All Star Jam every year. This year at Berks Jazz Fest 2005, Chuck also gave us an awesome show with his own band and featuring saxophone player David Mann. Chuck is always a welcome addition to the Jazz Fest – often he is more in the background, arranging and making sure everything goes well, enhancing the expert skill of other artists, but this year, with a separate show, he was able to take a more prominent role, and everyone would have to agree that he is nothing less than a ‘class act.’ It seemed all of us got more of a taste of just how accomplished he is, and so he was a superb choice for the opening of the Berks Summer Jazz Series. The show featured the Berks Jazz Fest Horns, Gerald Veasley, and Chuck’s very talented band. (more pictures and a recap of the show to follow)
In addition to Chuck Loeb, there are a number of additional surprises in the line-up for the summer, including the following:
Thursday, June 30th, is a release party for Gerald Veasley’s November 21st, 2004 live CD recording of At The Jazz Base! which will be available on July 26th. For any of you who were there in November, this promises to be a great night of reminiscing. If you missed the recording session, here’s your chance to hear some of the music recorded on the CD, and share in the excitement of the upcoming release.
Jaared, an accomplished saxophone player, broke onto the smooth jazz scene in 2000 with a hit solo album entitled Foreward and is currently touring with Peter White. He and Peter did a show at Berks Jazz Fest, and now he will return to Berks as part of the Summer Jazz Series on July 28th. Voted one of the top five saxophonists of the Washington, D.C. metro area, he was also nominated as Best New Artist of the year at the 3rd Annual Smooth Jazz Awards in 2002, and he has been gathering loyal fans ever since.
Nick Colionne, who has worked with artists like the Impressions, Natalie Cole, and Curtis Mayfield, will perform on August 26th. His songs have been recorded by people like Paul Anka and Johnnie Mathis. A successful solo artist, he makes a great connection with the audience and his show also promises to be a great time of jazz!
Acoustic Alchemy, an English band with a long track record of hit albums, played Berks in 2004, and will return on September 22nd, this time to the intimacy of the Jazz Base. This is a band that has made its way across the Atlantic Ocean to develop a huge fan base in the United States. If you’ve never heard them, you’re in for a treat – they are extremely talented and quite entertaining. Those who caught their show the first time here in Reading have been waiting excitedly for them to return. Their trademark is the pairing of two guitar players, Greg Carmichael on nylon string and steel string guitar and Miles Gilderdale on the steel string and electric guitar. The way the two guitar players complement each other is totally engaging to the listener. The pleasant and humorous demeanor of all the band members is fun to watch and also speaks to their wonderful connections to the audience.
We hope to see you at the Jazz Base this summer if you’re anywhere within driving distance, and if you’re not close enough, remember those coming from out of town and staying at the Sheraton in order to attend Jazz Base shows will receive a special package deal.
These days there are so many great festivals and shows around the country that feature the best of contemporary jazz music, and with this new series, Berks continues to do all it can to keep jazz music lovers in a year-round jazz state of mind.
Visit www.geraldveasley’sjazzbase.com to see a complete listing of all the shows to be held in the Berks Summer Jazz Series.
Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council