21st annual Boscov�s Berks Jazz Fest brings big star power

The 21st annual Boscov�s Berks Jazz Fest, presented by the Berks Arts Council, runs March 25-April 3, and features some of the hottest names in contemporary and traditional jazz, blues, R&B, fusion and more.

With a new title sponsor and one of the most diverse lineups in festival history, the 2011 Boscov�s Berks Jazz Fest promises to be one of the best yet. More than 130 events are hosted at large venues, clubs and restaurants throughout Berks County.

There is something for everyone: the legendary Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio; the always-popular Guitars & Saxes, featuring Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Peter White and Jeff Golub; B-3 master Joey Defrancesco with his trio; jazz icon Dave Brubeck with his quartet; electric bass legends Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten; and guitar masters Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, Howard Alden and Gene Bertoncini.

Don�t miss big names like The Rippingtons; Rick Braun, who is joining the Reading Pops Orchestra; and Brian Culbertson, who is wrapping up this year�s festival with a finale concert featuring vocalist Kenny Lattimore.

Expect memorable shows by Grammy Award-winning vocalist Steve Tyrell; contemporary jazz-fusion masters Chieli Minucci & Special EFX; jazz supergroup Fourplay; Pieces of a Dream and Phil Perry; Norman Brown and Richard Elliot; Euge Groove; and more.

Fusion has a big presence at this year�s fest, with Jeff Lorber Fusion, featuring Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Jimmy Haslip, Michael White, and special guest Randy Brecker; Al Di Meola�s World Sinfonia; and Steve Smith & Vital Information: NYC Edition.

Several brunches offer a delightful way to start the day, with Andrew Neu; the trio of Marc Antoine, Brian Simpson and Jeff Kashiwa; and a blues brunch with the Clarence Spady Band.

Ensemble shows are always a treat, and there is no shortage of ensembles this year.
The BeBop Sessions with Chuck Loeb & Friends features Loeb, Brian Bromberg, Randy Brecker, Rick Braun, Philippe Saisse, Gerald Albright, Ada Rovatti and more.

The Vista All-Stars bring the experience of a jazz cruise to you, with Wycliffe Gordon, Houston Person, Ken Peplowski, Shelly Berg, Tom Kennedy, Ernie Adams and Dee Daniels.

The Original Jazz Crusaders, featuring Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson bring their reunion tour to Reading.

Brian Bromberg and his band are coming to town for a CD release concert, and will include special guest Randy Brecker in the celebration.

Gerald Veasley, a Philly native and Berks favorite, is hosting Gerald Veasley�s Sounds of Philly, with Will Downing, Carol Riddick, Nick Colionne and Walter Beasley. Join Gerald �Round Midnight for two late-night jams at his namesake club, Gerald Veasley�s Jazz Base. This in-the-moment event is a new festival favorite.

Gerald Albright will present The Man and His Music, with special guests Rick Braun, Larry Braggs, and Selina Albright, plus the Berks Jazz Fest Horns.

Blues once again has its own niche in the festival, with concerts by Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Walter Trout and opening act Gina Sicilia; Mark Hummel�s Blues Harmonica Blowout, featuring Lazy Lester, Jerry Portnoy, Mark Wenner and the Blues Survivors; and the young and rising stars of Homemade Jamz Blues Band.

The Ladies of JazzSharon Bailey, Suzie Ernesto and Toni Lynne -- are back, and are joining The Last Big Band for an afternoon of standards.

Dance Hall Docs always promise a rousing show, with their Music of Tower of Power and More concert, featuring vocalist Brent Carter, a former lead singer of TOP.

The always-popular free community concerts, sponsored by Reading Eagle Company, are back, with the U.S. Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble welcoming two different special guests on back-to-back nights of shows. Randy Brecker joins RIB for the first show, and Ernie Watts will be sharing the stage for the second. The Berks High School All-Star Band is opening both nights.

This year�s festival brings a rich variety of musical genres, with two promises � great music, and a really good time.

A complete schedule of concerts, artist bios, hotel information and more is available at www.berksjazzfest.com

Tickets go on sale Saturday, Dec. 4, at 10 a.m.