Berkshire Jazz Festival

Tickets on Sale

By: - Mar 18, 2024


On March 9, 2024, Berkshires Jazz celebrated our 15th birthday as a 501c3 non-profit organization. What a remarkable run it’s been, with a bevy of jazz masters and prodigies, big bands and soloists, instrumentalists and vocalists. Here’s our latest news: the lineup for our eighteenth annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, which runs from Apr. 18-28 in various locations throughout the city of Pittsfield, Mass., the downtown of the Berkshires. 


Starting with an open jam session and ending with a jazz brunch at Dottie’s, the events include the popular Jazz Crawl, a swing dance, the jazz prodigy concert introducing two (!) young musicians to Berkshires audiences, and headline concerts featuring Brandon Goldberg and Marcus Roberts. The box office is open, and you can find a link at the end of this newsletter.


As close followers know, our festival is a highlight of Jazz Appreciation Month, a national observance that was conceived by the Smithsonian Institution in 2001, and later sanctioned by Congress. It also falls on the eve of another celebratory event, Duke Ellington’s 125th birthday anniversary, which will be observed during some of the performances.


The 10-day festival kicks-off with an open jam session at Hot Plate Brewing, on Thursday, April 18, curated and refereed by pianist Dave Bartley. The festival’s annual Jazz Crawl anchors the weekend events, on Apr. 19; sponsored by Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, the crawl features local artists in restaurants and lounges throughout the City. On Saturday, Apr. 20, the Wandering Dance Society will hold a swing dance at Proprietor’s Lodge, preceded by an hour of instruction for those interested in the increasingly popular dance movement. A Sunday jazz brunch at Dottie’s on North Street caps the first weekend.


The Jazz Prodigy Concert kicks-off “headline week” on Tuesday, Apr. 23 at the Berkshire Athenaeum. The concert presents two young artists in their performance debut together, pianist Jasper Zimmerman and alto saxophonist Zach Catalano, backed by Pete Toigo on bass and Conor Meehan on drums. Sponsored by Friends of the Athenaeum, the Jazz Prodigy Concert has represented the first actual gig for many of today’s rising artists. Jasper and Zach were so highly recommended by the overseers of the Litchfield Jazz Camp that we couldn’t decide between them. So, more history will be made here.


Headline concerts include trios headed by two phenomenal pianists at different phases of their careers, the teenage prodigy Brandon Goldberg and the masterful Marcus Roberts. Another jazz brunch at Dottie’s concludes the festival on Sunday, Apr. 28.


More detail, you say? OK.



17-year-old Brandon Goldberg has been playing piano since he was three years old, making his Newport Jazz Festival debut at the age of 13. He has played at the most important jazz festivals in the world, and on the stages of the most prestigious jazz clubs, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dizzy’s Club, The Side Door, and Birdland Theatre, among others. He first appeared in the Berkshires in 2022, in front of a turn-away crowd at Ventfort Hall. His Pittsfield performance will be a CD-release concert for his brand new recording, “Live at Dizzy’s”. 


JazzTimes called Brandon “a gifted pianist and composer, a sensitive interpreter, and an inventive improviser who is deeply immersed in jazz." His recording “In Good Time” drew this comment from Downbeat Magazine: "…unassailable technique, advanced harmonic understanding, a deep sense of swing and, most impressively, a clarity and plethora of ideas executed to near perfection." If you were fortunate enough to catch him at Ventfort Hall, or at Dizzy’s, you already know that a concert by Brandon Goldberg is a special event, indeed. He’s another “veteran” of the Litchfield Jazz Camp.


As part of the Jazz Appreciation Month observances across the country, Berkshires Jazz presents a wide range of music, much of it represented in Marcus Roberts’ extended composition, “From Rags to Rhythm,” an anthology of jazz styles. Marcus is considered one of the preeminent American jazz pianists of his generation. During the first fifteen years of his career, he completed more than thirty recordings; and all, whether solo piano, with trio, big band, or symphony orchestra, have been critically acclaimed. His life and work were featured in a CBS’s 60 Minutes episode, “The Virtuoso,” which traced his life from his early years in Jacksonville, Florida, and at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, to his award-winning career as a performer and composer. 




Marcus Roberts’ musical spectrum represents a perfect message for our Jazz Appreciation Month observations. From his early days with Wynton Marsalis, where I first saw him (Blues Alley in Georgetown) to his work as an ensemble player and a leader, to his role as guest soloist, Marcus Roberts has impressed audiences for 40 years. 


And, to pick up after the mention of Duke Ellington: he was born on Apr. 29, 1899, and Marcus Roberts’ first set will include music from the Ellington playbook. His performance is a one-time affair, and we’re calling it “From Rags to Rhythm to Duke.”


The Berkshires Jazz All Star Youth Band will open this final concert of the festival. A curated ensemble hosted at Reid and Herberg Middle Schools, the band has drawn wide acclaim at openings for such festival headliners as Dave Brubeck, the Diva Jazz Orchestra, and Emmet Cohen. This concert is sponsored by a generous grant from The Feigenbaum Foundation. 


As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the mission of Berkshires Jazz is to preserve jazz, America's indigenous art form, and nurture its growth by presenting high quality jazz programs, fostering jazz education, and promoting the local jazz scene. Tickets are on sale for both of the headline concerts, with box office links and other details on our home page (click here or paste the following into your browser: You can also find information about how to donate, so we can keep on providing programs of this magnitude at accessible prices.


Please feel free to forward this to friends and colleagues, so they can join in the celebration.