Kirk Whalum’s Gospel According to Jazz Celebration has become a staple as the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest finale as presented by Berks Arts Council.
This year’s concert on Sunday, April 15, at 6 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral figures to be especially memorable with the recent additions of three esteemed artists — Jonathan Butler, Maysa and Wycliffe Gordon — to an already impressive lineup.
The uber-talented trio replaces Take 6, which developed a schedule conflict.
The Gospel According to Jazz Celebration now features Butler, Maysa and Gordon plus Kevin Whalum, John Stoddart, and the DOXA Gospel Ensemble.
For information on the complete lineup of performing artists and ticket information, please visit www.berksjazzfest.com
Kirk Whalum, a peerless saxophonist and composer who brings a deep spirituality to everything he plays, once again has assembled an extraordinary group of musicians to explore gospel music, one of the roots of jazz.
An ordained minister, he has a Master of Arts degree in Religion.
Ever since boyhood, acclaimed South African guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler has been using his gifts of song, composition and instrumentation to communicate the messages of his soul.
Butler has a long history of doing gospel shows with Kirk Whalum, including two at Berks Jazz Fest. While renowned for his performances and recordings in the jazz and R&B worlds, Butler’s gospel albums hold a special place in his heart.
He remains a captivating and powerful performer, pouring his heart into selections from his immense catalogue. His soaring, gritty but beautiful voice transports listeners to deeper realms both emotionally and spiritually.
Maysa first gained fame as the featured voice with Incognito, one of the best funk/jazz/soul groups in the world.
She is the kind of singer who takes hold of a song and enraptures her audience in the palm of her hands, as she delivers lyrics, phrases, melodies and harmonies in a way that only she can.
Blessed with an instantly identifiable honey-toned mezzo-soprano and an undeniably brilliant and magnetic stage presence, Maysa’s alluring vocals, candor, humor and purity are exquisite.
Having collaborated with everyone from Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan to Incognito and Angela Bofill, Maysa can hang with the best.
Maysa also is performing with Incognito this year in Berks Jazz Fest on Saturday, April 14, at 10 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading.
Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, a renowned musician, composer, conductor and arranger, hosts all the gospel shows on Entertainment Cruise Productions jazz cruises.
Gordon was a member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet, an original member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and a featured guest artist on Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center Series.
His arrangement of the theme song to NPR’s “All Things Considered” is heard daily around the globe. His show “Jazz a la Carte” was named one of the five best moments in jazz by the Wall Street Journal.
Gordon’s performance experience includes work with David Sanborn, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simons, Natalie Merchant, Rene Marie, Dianne Reeves, Anat Cohen, Ricky Skaggs, Arturo Sandoval, Doc Severinsen, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Tommy Flanagan, Shirley Horn, Joe Henderson, Eric Reed, Randy Sandke and Branford Marsalis, to name a few.
Legendary jazz keyboardist George Duke once described vocalist Kevin Whalum, the younger brother of Kirk, as “butter” in reference to Kevin’s smooth, sweet voice in covering gospel, soul, jazz or scat.
R&B/gospel vocalist and keyboardist John Stoddart is unquestionably one of the music industry’s most notable talents and is an accomplished artist, composer, writer, composer and instrumentalist.
Reading’s own DOXA Gospel Ensemble, whose name means “praise,” has been featured many times as guests with other artists, mostly notably in Kirk Whalum’s Gospel According to Jazz Celebration.
The vocal ensemble also has presented its own concerts, including one with special guest Gerald Veasley, the renowned bass player.