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Berks Jazz Fest delivers 10 days of nonstop world class music

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STORY WRITTEN BY CHERYL THORNBURG
cthornburg@pottsmerc.com
@MercArtsCheryl on Twitter

Now in its 25th year, Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest is bigger and better than ever, and this year it’s even expanding across county lines to include two major concerts at the historic Sunnybrook Ballroom in Lower Pottsgrove. In the height of the Big Band era, Sunnybrook hosted the A-listers of the music world, including Benny Goodman, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong.
In 2015, Sunnybrook is the venue for the US Army Jazz Ambassadors on April 14 and Lou Dottoli and the Sounds of SunnyBrook in “Celebrate Sinatra” on Saturday, April 18.
The 10-day festival kicks off Friday April 10 and runs through Sunday April 19 with countless performances at dozens of venues large and small. There will be 50 major ticketed concerts and more than 125 free concerts. The music will run the full spectrum of what the world calls jazz, including big band, blues, smooth jazz, funk, bebop, swing, fusion and more.
Headlining opening night is Wynton Marsalis at the Santander Performing Arts Center on April 10 at 7:30 p.m. Marsalis performed in the 1991 Berks Jazz Fest inaugural concert and returns for its 25th anniversary with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Another special event will be the 25th anniversary Berks All-Star Jazz Jam, held at the Crowne Plaza It will include Rick Braun; Gerald Veasley; guitarists Nick Colionne, Peter White and Marc Antoine; Gerald Albright; bassist Brian Bromberg; Harp; saxophonists Euge Groove, Marion Meadows and Paul Taylor; Lionel Cordew; keyboardist Alex Bugnon; and Bobby Lyle on the B3 organ.
Also special for the 25th anniversary will be the Berks Bop Big Band at Building 24 Live on April 14 and April 15. This concert will feature a big band made up of Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Brian Bromberg, Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Everett Harp and Lionel Cordew, plus local and regional musicians, performing bebop together.


The Reading Pops will return for the celebration in “Jazzin’ Up the Pops” on April 19, with special guests New York Voices, who performed in the second annual Jazz Fest.
There will also be several of the popular Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jams at the Crowne Plaza.
Closing out the festival Sunday April 19 will be Kirk Whalum’s Gospel According to Jazz Celebration in the Scottish Rite Cathedral, featuring legendary vocalist Yolanda Adams, winner of numerous prizes including four Grammys. Also performing that night is Pottstown’s own Candace Benson, who was the runner-up last fall in the Gospel competition TV show, “Sunday Best.”
The Berks Jazz Fest is presented by the Berks Arts Council. For complete performance schedules, directions, where to stay, go to the official website, www.berksjazzfest.com.

MAJOR CONCERTS FOR BERKS JAZZ FEST
FRIDAY, APRIL 10
Pat Martino Trio: Jazz Base at the Crowne Plaza Reading, $39
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis: Santander Performing Arts Center, $59 and $49
Fabulous Friday Funkathon: Part I
Dance Hall Docs with special guest Brent Carter plus The Uptown Band featuring Erich Cawalla & Jenifer Kinder
Building 24 Live, $25 (General Admission)
Boney James: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $49 (Reserved Seating)
Reading Jazz Connection, Greg Hatza & Tim Price Organ Quartet: Jazz Base at Crowne Plaza Reading, $10 cover at the door (General Admission)
Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jam: Sweet Street Desserts Jazz Tent at Crowne Plaza: $25 (General Admission)

SATURDAY, APRIL 11
Randy Hansen – The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Building 24 Live, $25 (General Admission)
Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers featuring Sweetpea
Atkinson plus Pieces Of A Dream: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $45, two concerts (Reserved Seating)
Brian Bromberg with special guest Andrew Neu: Jazz Base at the Crowne Plaza Reading, $30 (General Admission)
The Soul Of Jazz featuring Jeffrey Osborne, Najee, Maysa, Nick Colionne, Gerald Veasley, Brian Simpson: Santander Performing Arts Center, $49 (Reserved Seating)
Jazz Orchestra Of Philadelphia directed by Terell Stafford: Miller Center for the Arts, $40 (Reserved Seating)
Music of Stevie Ray Vaughn – Tommy Katona & Texas Flood: Building 24 Live, $25 (General Admission)
Incognito: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $49 (Reserved Seating)
Andrew Neu with special guests Carol Riddick and David P Stevens: Jazz Base at Crowne Plaza Reading, $10 cover at the door (General Admission)
Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jam: Sweet Street Desserts Jazz Tent at Crowne Plaza, $25 (General Admission)

SUNDAY, APRIL 12
Sunday Jazz Brunch / 10 a.m. Buffet / 11:15 a.m. show, Urban Jazz Coalition & Friends: Sweet Street Desserts Jazz Tent at Crowne Plaza: $40 (General Admission, includes brunch)
Ultimate Tribute to the Original Allman Brothers – Live At The Fillmore: Building 24 Live, $25 (General Admission)
Gerald Albright plus Jazz Funk Soul: Chuck Loeb, Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, Ron Jenkins, Rayford Griffin: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $45, two concerts (Reserved Seating)
Brian Culbertson: Santander Performing Arts Center, $49 (Reserved Seating)
Dianne Reeves: Miller Center for the Arts, $49 (Reserved Seating)

MONDAY, APRIL 13
U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors featuring Eric Marienthal plus Berks High School All-Star Jazz Band: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, FREE (General Admission)

TUESDAY, APRIL 14
U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors plus the Pottstown High Jazz Band: Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown, FREE (General Admission)
Berks Bop Big Band: Building 24 Live, $38 (General Admission)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15
20 Feet From Stardom (Film): R/C Reading Movies 11 & IMAX, Tickets available at the door
Billy Cobham’s ‘Spectrum 40’ Band: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $42 (Reserved Seating)
Berks Bop Big Band: Building 24 Live, $38 (General Admission)

THURSDAY, APRIL 16
Djangoholics Anonymous: Jazz Base at Crowne Plaza Reading, $15 (General Admission)
Pat Travers Band: Building 24 Live, $25 (General Admission)
Berks All-Star Jazz Jam: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $49 (Reserved Seating)

FRIDAY, APRIL 17
Honoring Masters of Fusion – Alex Bugnon, Gerald Veasley, Chieli Minucci, Chris Farr, Rodney Holmes: Jazz Base at the Crowne Plaza Reading, $40 (General Admission)
Will Downing and special guest Phil Perry: Scottish Rite Cathedral, $49 (Reserved Seating)
Larry Coryell & Strings Attached: Miller Center for the Arts: $40 (Reserved Seating)
James Hunter Six plus Mikey Junior Band: The Inn at Reading Ballroom: $39 (General Admission)
Fabulous Friday Funkathon – Part II, The Original Groovemasters plus Reggie Brown & Bunch A Funk: Building 24 Live, $25 (General Admission)
Tedeschi Trucks Band: Santander Performing Arts Center, $39.50 – $75 (Reserved Seating)
Jazz Attack: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $45 (Reserved Seating)
Sax Summit: Jazz Base at Crowne Plaza Reading, $10 cover at the door (General Admission)
Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jam: Sweet Street Desserts Jazz Tent at Crowne Plaza, $25 (General Admission)

SATURDAY, APRIL 18
Berks Jazz Fest Auction featuring musical guests The New Spirits: Jazz Base at Crowne Plaza Reading, FREE
Eric Clapton Retrospective – Craig Thatcher Band: Building 24 Live, $25 (General Admission)
Nick Colionne plus Marion Meadows & Paul Taylor: Crowne Plaza Reading Hotel Ballroom, $45, two concerts (Reserved Seating)
Marc Antoine: Jazz Base at Crowne Plaza Reading, $35 (General Admission)
Fourplay: Scottish Rite Cathedral: $49 (Reserved Seating)
Kind Of New: Miller Center for the Arts: $40 (Reserved Seating)
Steely Dan Tribute – The Royal Scam: The Inn at Reading Ballroom, $25 (General Admission)
Royal Southern Brotherhood: Building 24 Live: $39 (General Admission)
Celebrate Sinatra – Lou Dottoli and the Sounds of Sunnybrook Dance Band: SunnyBrook Ballroom, ticket info at sunnybrookballroom.com
Remembering Joe Sample: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $45 (Reserved Seating)
Classic Rock Meets Contemporary Jazz – The Jost Project: Jazz Base at Crowne Plaza Reading, $10 cover at the door (General Admission)
Gerald Veasley’s Midnight Jam: Sweet Street Desserts Jazz Tent at Crowne Plaza, $25 (General Admission)

SUNDAY, APRIL 19
Sunday Jazz Brunch Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo: The Inn at Reading Ballroom, $40 (General Admission, includes brunch)
Brassy Sunday Jazz Brunch – Élan Trotman, Jeff Bradshaw, Joey Sommerville: Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, $40 (Reserved Seating, includes brunch)
Jazzin’ Up the Pops – New York Voices and the Reading Pops Orchestra: Miller Center for Arts, $40 (Reserved Seating)
Gospel According to Jazz Celebration – Kirk Whalum, Yolanda Adams, Kevin Whalum, Shelea Frazier, Rick Braun, John Stoddart, Gerald Veasley, Candace Benson, and the Doxa Gospel Ensemble: Scottish Rite Cathedral, $49 (Reserved Seating)

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