The 28th annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest as presented by Berks Arts Council once again will glitter with a galaxy of stars performing April 6-15, 2018.
The 10-day Jazz Fest will be epic in scope, talent and genres — with a multiplicity of concerts at venues large and small encompassing contemporary jazz, traditional jazz, pop, crossover, world, blues, roots, funk, R&B, gospel and unique concerts produced especially for the festival.
The Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest is recognized as one of the largest and most diverse music festivals of its kind in the country. Since 1991, the festival has been an important part of the Greater Reading’s community revitalization efforts as both an economic and cultural catalyst for positive change.
The festival gets off to a rousing start on Friday, April 6, with the Opening Night Celebration, Brian Culbertson: Colors of Love Tour, at 7:30 p.m. at the Santander Performing Arts Center. Culbertson, the award-winning multi-instrumentalist, mainly features his signature acoustic piano on his new romantic album Colors of Love due out on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Also at 7:30 on April 6 at The Inn at Reading will be the Special All-Stars featuring four musical heavyweights in guitarist Chieli Minucci, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, keyboardist Lao Tizer, violinist Karen Briggs and bassist Gerald Veasley.
That epic opening Friday will continue with a blockbuster 10 p.m. concert at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading Grand Ballroom, acclaimed chart-topping trumpeter Rick Braun with superstar saxophonist Dave Koz, he of the nine Grammy Award nominations and nine No. 1 albums.
The Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest lost a dear friend when Chuck Loeb passed away July 31 at 61 from cancer. Loeb was much more than just a fabulous guitarist with incredible musicianship – the consummate arranger and composer. He also was a wonderful human being and a prolific and peerless performer at Berks Jazz Fest.
Chuck may be gone — but he will never be forgotten by his Jazz Fest family of volunteers and fans. The Remembering Chuck Loeb concert on Sunday, April 8, at 6 p.m. at the Santander Performing Arts Center will feature Eric Marienthal, Rick Braun, Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason, Kirk Whalum, Will Lee, Michael Franks, Dave Koz, Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber, Randy Brecker, Paul Jackson Jr., Chieli Minucci, Nick Colionne, Kim Waters, Gerald Veasley, Bill Evans, Mitch Forman, Brian Bromberg, Andy Snitzer, Lionel Cordew, Ron Jenkins, David Charles, Matt King and The Berks Horns.
Also gracing the stage will be Chuck’s wife Carmen and his daughters Christina and Lizzy Loeb. A portion of the proceeds will establish the Chuck Loeb Scholarship Fund.
Kirk Whalum’s Gospel According to Jazz Celebration has become a staple as the Berks Jazz Fest finale and this time will feature Take 6 plus Kevin Whalum, John Stoddart, Shelea Frazier and the DOXA Gospel Ensemble.
Berks Jazz Fest always has a plethora of brilliant artists and other notables in the 28th edition will include:
Sensational saxophonist Boney James with special guest vocalist Eric Roberson.
The celebrated Pieces of a Dream with special saxophonist Kim Waters, guitarist Nick Colionne and vocalist Eric Roberson.
The iconic group Fourplay with keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, drummer Harvey Mason and saxophonist Kirk Whalum.
The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, under whose production the group has released 22 albums, all of which have attained Top 5 Billboard status and sold over three million albums, plus saxophonist/singer Grace Kelly.
Rayford Griffin’s Reflections of Brownie: A Tribute to Clifford Brown by his nephew and volcanic drummer Rayford Griffin featuring trumpet maestro Rick Braun, ground-breaking bassist Brian Bromberg, keyboard master Hans Zermuehlen and sensational saxophonist Andy Snitzer.
EPK as in sizzling saxman Euge Groove, acclaimed guitarist Peter White and transcendent pianist Keiko Matsui.
Saxophone great Gerald Albright with special guest vocalists Selina Albright, his daughter, and sensational singer Kenny Lattimore.
Famed British funk/jazz/soul group Incognito featuring Maysa, she of the instantly identifiable honey-toned mezzo-soprano and an undeniably brilliant and magnetic stage presence.
Grammy Award-winning vocalist Catherine Russell teams up with jazz guitarist, vocalist and bandleader John Pizzarelli in a stunning tribute to Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra.
Two-time Grammy-winning and legendary vocalist Lisa Fischer and her band Grand Baton.
Phenomenal blues guitarist/vocalist Ana Popovic plus Philadelphia-based blues vocalist/saxophonist Vanessa Collier, whose rise to the top has almost been meteoric.
In the Music of Rory Gallagher, who produced some of the greatest rock/blues albums of the 1960s, 70s and the 80s, the Band of Friends features seminal blues prodigy/guitarist /vocalist Davey Knowles; bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy, who played, recorded and toured with Gallagher for 20 years; and drummer Ted McKenna, who also played with Gallagher from 1978-81.
Performing a special brand of music that encompasses multiple genres, the Victor Wooten Trio is led by world-renowned bassist Victor Wooten, a five-time Grammy Award winner and a founding member of Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. The trio features drummer Dennis Chambers and saxophonist Bob Franceschini. The opening act is Teen Town, a young, impressive fusion/jazz/funk trio out of Williamsport.
Chilean-born tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, who at the tender age of 24 won the prestigious 2013 Thelonious Monk Competition. She later became a recipient of the Martin E. Segal Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center and a double recipient of the Altazor Award, Chile’s highly prestigious national arts prize.
Jazz Funk Soul with pianist Jeff Lorber, saxophonist Everette Harp and guitarist Paul Jackson Jr.
The Heart & Soul of Sax featuring Kirk Whalum and Everette Harp with special guests Maceo Parker, Dee Dee Bridgewater and The Berks Horns.
The Caribbean Connection with former New York Yankees star outfielder and guitarist Bernie Williams, saxophonist Elan Trotman, flautist Nestor Torres and Kareem Thompson on steel pans.
The inspiring all-star pairing of pianist David Benoit and guitarist Marc Antoine.
Steve Cole & Friends featuring Nick Colionne, Kevin Whalum, Jay Rowe, JJ Sansaverino, David Dyson and Carl Anderson.
Saxophonist Eric Marienthal, trumpeter Rick Braun, bassist Brian Bromberg, keyboardist Mitch Forman and drummer Lionel Cordew salute the music of Cannonball Adderley, one of the great alto saxophonists and an iconic performer in the hard bop era of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Berks All-Star Jazz Jam, Berks Bop Night and the four Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jams are perennial festival favorites showcasing multitudes of performers.
The Slam Allen Band, a slamming hit at the inaugural Reading Blues Fest presented by Berks Arts Council in October, returns to Berks to showcase Slam, one of the most dynamic and original blues and soul artists on the scene today.
The Billy Price Band with special guest Johnny Rawls, a soul blues singer, guitarist, and keyboardist.
Hard-swinging, rocking bluesman Popa Chubby.
Distinctive guitarist Dave Stryker, accomplished tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and his Organ Quintet with special guest Steve Nelson, one of today’s most revered jazz vibraphonists.
The Royal Scam, the world’s premier Steely Dan tribute band, playing more than 40 of Steely Dan’s masterpieces and keeping the compositions of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker and the enthusiasm of fine musicianship alive.
Greg Hatza ORGANization. Hatza, a Reading native is a Hammond B3 organ master and the possessor of a fiery technique and a seemingly innate feel for jazz phrasing.
Cullen & Company, populated with local and regional marquee artists, features guitarist/vocalist David Cullen, drummer Matt Cullen, guitarist/vocalist Craig Thatcher, bassist Chico Huff, pianist/vocalist Cliff Starkey and saxophonist/harmonica player Pete Fluck.
The Reading Pops Orchestra with Berks County’s own instrumentalist and vocalist Erich Cawalla.
Reading Symphony Orchestra presents Glorious Gershwin featuring pianist Simon Mulligan, bass baritone Kevin Deas and soprano Julie-Ann Whitely Green.
The GetJazzED Night Jazz Jam hosted by GetJazzED chairman Mike Eben, Eric Marienthal, Albert Rivera, Gerald Veasley and the Lars Potteiger Trio.
Mike Eben’s From the Hip Nonet with special guest Albert Rivera.
The Hot Club of Reading featuring Josh Taylor, Chris Heslop, Ken Gehret, Trey LaRue and Josiah Taylor with special guest accordion virtuoso Julien Labro.
The U.S. Navy Band Commordores in two free community concerts, one with the Berks High School All-Star Jazz Band.
KU Jazz Jazz Ensemble I and After Hours Jazz Chorus.
There also will be Berks Jazz Fest Night pre-fest concerts … the Hot Club of Philadelphia March 14 at Alvernia University; the Eric Mintel Quartet March 16 in Allentown; and Mary Stallings March 25 in Lancaster.
A post-fest concert will be the Joey Alexander Trio April 20 at Kutztown University.
For information on the complete lineup of performing artists and ticket information, please visit www.berksjazzfest.com
Berks Jazz Fest is a project of Berks Arts Council, a local arts agency whose mission is to cultivate, promote, and support the arts in our community through collaboration, education and presentation. In addition to the Berks Jazz Fest and Reading Blues Fest, Berks Arts Council presents the Bandshell Concert Series, Fast Lane Art, the Pagoda Awards, administers the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts grant program, and provides art exhibition and marketing opportunities for local artists. Visit them at www.BerksArts.org