December 1, 2009

The 20th Annual VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest celebrates milestone with white-hot lineup

READING, PA -- November 29 -- The 20th Annual VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest, presented by the Berks Arts Council, runs March 19-28, and promises a memorable experience for lovers of contemporary and traditional jazz, blues, one-of-a-kind ensemble shows and more.

What began as a weekend festival of a few shows has grown to 10 days of great music and camaraderie, creating lasting friendships and memories.

The festival has always been unique in that it offers an array of venues and musical styles, with more than 130 events at major venues, clubs and restaurants throughout Reading and Berks County, Pa.

Several artists who played for the first fest in 1991 are returning this year, including Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band; Turtle Island Quartet with special guest Cyrus Chestnut; and Denis DiBlasio with special guest Randy Brecker.

Other featured artists in this year's festival include jazz trumpet star Chris Botti; pianist Keiko Matsui; the legendary Blood Sweat & Tears; bassist and hometown favorite Gerald Veasley with his Electric Mingus Project; contemporary jazz star Boney James; trumpet great and local favorite Rick Braun & Friends, featuring David Benoit, Richard Elliot and Selena Albright, joined by the Berks Jazz Fest Horns; the always-entertaining duo of Peter White & Mindi Abair; Earl Klugh with opening act Tuck & Patti; Kim Waters & Kenny Lattimore plus opening act Gregg Karukas; Jane Monheit with the Reading Pops Orchestra; and Pat Martino Quartet featuring Eric Alexander, Tony Monaco and Jason Brown.

Fans also will enjoy vocalist Jackie Ryan featuring Larry McKenna, Lee Smith, Dan Monaghan and Tom Lawton; the free community concert by the U.S. Air Force Satellite Jazz Ensemble; Frank Vignola's Hot Club; Dean Brown Band; saxman Euge Groove; Joe McBride Trio; Nick Colionne & Eric Darius; the Yellowjackets; and Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Concert.

Unique ensemble shows to look forward to this year are the Music of Grover Washington Jr. featuring Jason Miles, Gerald Albright, Walter Beasley, Chante Moore, Randy Brecker, Jeff Golub, Ada Rovatti, Buddy Williams, Ralph MacDonald and Neal Jason.

Hometown favorite Rick Braun is celebrating this milestone year with a 20th anniversary concert, Rick Braun & Friends featuring David Benoit, Richard Elliot, Selina Albright, and the Berks Jazz Fest Horns and Berks Jazz Fest Strings.

The 20th Anniversary Berks All-Star Jazz Jam features Chuck Loeb, Rick Braun, Peter White, David Benoit, Gerald Veasley, Joe McBride, Nick Colionne, Chieli Minucci, Brian Bromberg, Eric Darius, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot.

There's also Brian Bromberg & Friends, with the veteran bassist being joined by Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb, Michael Lington, Marion Meadows, Cindy Bradley and Will Kennedy, Gary Meek, Alec Milstein and the Berks Jazz Fest Horns; and Guitarzzz featuring Chuck Loeb, Chieli Minucci and Paul Jackson Jr. plus opening act Jessy J, Oli Silk and Jackiem Joyner.

Blues are back in a big way, with rousing shows promised by the Grammy Award-winning Robert Cray Band; vocal powerhouse Shemekia Copeland plus opening act Eric Steckel with the Craig Thatcher Band; and guitarist and vocalist Coco Montoya plus opening act Deanna Bogart Band.

The VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest is proud to bring fans 20 years of great music and lasting memories. Join in the celebration!

The 20th Annual VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest, presented by the Berks Arts Council, runs March 19-28, and features an expansive array of musical styles featuring contemporary and traditional jazz and blues artists. Over 130 events at major venues, clubs and restaurants throughout Greater Reading make this a truly unique music festival. For more information, including ticketing, artist bios and archived releases, visit www.berksjazzfest.com. For more information on the Berks Arts Council, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to promoting the arts in Greater Reading, visit www.berksarts.org.

Tickets go on sale Saturday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m.
To order tickets:
Visit the Sovereign Center box office, Seventh and Penn streets, Reading.
Call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 to charge by phone; or visit ticketmaster.com.
Order online at berksjazzfest.com.

For a complete schedule of concerts, visit www.berksjazzfest.com

Posted by Peter Böhi at December 1, 2009 1:14 AM