Jazz, Art, Food in Downtown Lee, MA in the beautiful Berkshire Hills
June 15-18, 2017
The Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend presents a great lineup of headline concerts on Friday June 16th, Saturday June 17th, plus free “Jazz in the Park” concerts together food vendors and shopping all in the beautiful western Massachusetts town of Lee, MA, the “Gateway to the Berkshires.”
Friday, June 16 2017 8:00 PM
The Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend celebrates Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial birthday with a concert of arrangements she performed with Count Basie, Duke Ellington and others. Leading the way is the Vermont Jazz Center Big Band, a 16-piece ensemble of area professionals, directed by Rob Freeberg. Acclaimed vocalist Wanda Houston will front the band for this tour-de-force of the great American songbook.
Dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century…and perhaps the first jazz artist to become a household name. One of today’s outstanding interpreters of vocal jazz and blues, Wanda Houston has loved and sung along with Fitzgerald’s music since she was a young girl. Originally from Chicago, Wanda grew up singing gospel music in church and with her family’s theater group. She has led an active career as an actress performing on the grand stages of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Broadway. Like Fitzgerald, she is a great singer as well as a superb storyteller; she colors the spaces between her songs with fascinating stories of her youth and the trials and tribulations of life on the road.
SATURDAY, JUNE 17 2017 8:00 PM
One of the longest-standing, best-known and highly-respected traditional jazz groups, The New Black Eagle Jazz Band returns to the Berkshires after a three-year hiatus. Celebrating their 45th anniversary in 2016, the band has dozens of recordings to its name, including a Grammy nomination. Of their prowess and creativity, the late N.Y. Time critic John S. Wilson wrote that the band is “So far ahead of other traditional bands…there is scarcely any basis for comparison.”
In 2009, the Black Eagles teamed-up with famed guitarist Duke Robillard for a recording called “Nothing But the Blues.” After many years, they are reunited exclusively for the Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend.