A blockbuster trio of concerts climaxes the March 16-25 First Energy Berks Jazz Fest
The 10-day groove in Greater Reading climaxes with a trio of great shows -- An Evening With The Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole on Saturday, March 24, at 10:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom; Chuck Loeb featuring The Berks Jazz Fest Horns plus the WJJZ All-Stars Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, Steve Cole and Gerald Veasley on Sunday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m., also at the Sheraton Reading Hotel Ballroom; and An Evening With Guitars & Saxes featuring Gerald Albright, Tim Bowman, Jeff Golub and Kirk Whalum on Sunday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
The Sax Pack ensemble of Kashiwa, Waters and Cole definitely puts the funk into teamwork. Kashiwa is one of the most energetic saxophone presences in smooth jazz. He is celebrated for his inventiveness with the sax. Waters also has had a robust solo career, selling close to half a million records. Through almost 20 years as a recording artist he remains the epitome of sexy, romantic cool. Cole, who rocketed to fame via his several-year side gig with Brian Culbertson, is one of contemporary jazz's hottest saxophonists.
Chuck Loeb's gig featuring The Berks Jazz Fest Horns plus the WJJZ All-Stars is a particularly poignant event because it is the WJJZ Smooth Jazz 97.5 Fan Appreciation Concert. Thousands of smooth jazz listeners in the greater Philadelphia area were ecstatic when WJJZ came back on the air at 97.5 FM in November of last year after a three-month hiatus due to a format change by its previous station's management.
And who better to be the headliner for this special celebration than Loeb, the brilliant guitarist, renowned producer, master educator and perennial Berks Jazz Fest fan favorite? Kashiwa, Waters, Steve Cole and acclaimed bassist Gerald Veasley (another popular Jazz Fest staple) comprise the WJJZ All-Stars and undoubtedly will be joined by others by the time the concert hits the Sheraton stage. Proving that homegrown talent definitely can be big league are The Berks Jazz Fest Horns -- Bill Miller on trombone, Rob Diener on trumpet and Mike Anderson on sax.
The festival's closing concert features one of the most enduring but ever evolving all-star shows in the smooth jazz genre -- Guitars & Saxes. With the lineup the past 10 years rotating seemingly more frequently than the globe, the concept stays fresh because every year the four artists bring their own unique vibe, groove and musicianship to the ensemble.
Saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum are two of contemporary jazz's most soulful and dynamic performers. Both spent several years touring with Jeff Lorber as part of the ongoing Groovin' for Grover phenomenon, paying tribute to the Philadelphia sax legend whose brilliant blend of pop, soul and jazz laid the foundation for the popular genre.
Jeff Golub's signature guitar sound is one of funky, blues-drenched smooth jazz. Fellow guitarist Tim Bowman, the brother of gospel star Vickie Winans, is equal parts smooth jazz and gospel. The musical director of The Winans in the 1980s, he segued to smooth jazz a decade ago and the genre is richer for it.
Among the other headliners at this year's festival are the Luther Vandross tribute featuring Dionne Warwick; the world premiere Soul Summit concert; Boney James; David Sanborn; Rick Braun; Richard Elliot; Jonathan Butler; Pieces of a Dream; Marion Meadows; Doc Powell; Dave Brubeck; Nelson Rangell; Philippe Saisse; Joyce Cooling; Pat Martino; Mindi Abair; Ann Hampton Callaway; Denis DiBlasio Quintet; Gerald Veasley’s Electric Mingus Project with John Blake Jr.; Kevin Mahogany; David Liebman; Warren Hill; Nick Colionne; Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band; The Rolling Stones Project featuring Tim Ries, Mike Davis, Bernard Fowler and Ben Monder; and the Berks All-Star Jazz Jam.
To order tickets:
Visit the Sovereign Center Box Office, 7th & Penn streets, Reading
Visit the Sovereign Performing Arts Center Box Office, 136 N. 6th St., Reading
Call Ticketmaster at 215-336-2000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com
Order online at berksjazzfest.com
For more information on the festival, including artist bios, click on www.berksjazzfest.com
For more information on the Berks Arts Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes all the arts in an effort to enrich the quality of life in Berks County, click on www.berksarts.org