Jazz in the Berkshires

Celebrating Four Centennials

By: - Jul 11, 2017


I wish you'd had a chance to hear our salute to Ella last month (as part of the Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend in Lee). Did I not send you any information about it? Wanda Houston fronting the Vermont Jazz Center Big Band, with many of the actual arrangements that Ella sang with Basie, Duke, and the like. A great crowd and a concert well-received.

I trust that this isn't news to you, but Berkshires Jazz is celebrating the 100th birthday year of four seminal jazz figures in 2017: Ella Fitzgerald (part of the aforementioned Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend ); Buddy Rich (July 22); Thelonious Monk (Aug. 12, with the Ted Rosenthal Quintet); and Dizzy Gillespie (part of the mid-October Pittsfield CityJazz Festival).

Drummer Greg Caputo brings his big band to Lee for the Buddy Rich salute. Greg has always served as a great ambassador for classic swing and big band jazz. His drumming credits include stints with Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Harry James, Nelson Riddle, Benny Goodman, Sheila Jordan, Sammy Davis Jr., and countless world class jazz artists. Local fans remember his appearance in Lee with NEA Jazz Master Phil Woods, a family friend when the two were growing up in Springfield. That gig turned out to be Woods’ final appearance in the Berkshires.

Called the “keeper of the big band flame” by Jazz Times magazine, Greg's repertoire is always presented with great precision and spirit. Classic Drummer magazine describes him as "a master drummer who speaks volumes in refined sensibilities and superb technique." An inductee into the National Jazz Archives, he is also on the faculty of UMass’ highly-regarded Jazz In July program. A Massachusetts native, he recently moved from Pittsfield to Florida, so this will be a rare opportunity to see a great band with a memorable program.

Ed Bride
Director of Jazz Pittsfield