When guitarist/vocalist Nick Colionne passed away suddenly on January 1, the news left the jazz world shocked and heartbroken, none more so than the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest management, musicians, and fans.
“Nick was a cherished member of the Berks family since his first performance at the festival in 2006, when he was part of the Jason Miles-produced “The Music of Marvin Gaye & Motown” concert,” said fest general manager John Ernesto. “Since then, he has performed at every fest, and was scheduled to be a major part of the 31st edition in April.
“Nick was a special, genuine, likeable, and lovable human being. Sadly, he is gone. So now it is time for the Berks family to celebrate Nick’s life and music during the April fest.”
Colionne was to appear in the Anniversary Celebration Concert on Friday, April 8, in the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and in “Nick Colionne and Friends,” a jazz brunch on Sunday, April 10, in the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading Grand Ballroom. Both concerts will be held as planned – and both will remember Colionne.
The Friday concert will include a special segment — “A Tribute to Nick Colionne” — organized by saxophonist/musical director Eric Marienthal. The concert also will feature Rick Braun, Keiko Matsui, Everette Harp, Brian Bromberg, Adam Hawley, Lindsey Webster, and The Berks Horns.
The entire Sunday brunch concert will feature an all-star ensemble that will join forces to honor and celebrate Nick.
The Sunday brunch concert has been renamed — “Nick Colionne’s Friends: A Salute to Nico!” — and will feature Maysa, Kim Waters, Gerald Veasley, Jackiem Joyner, Adam Hawley, Kayla Waters, JJ Sansaverino and The Berks Horns, under the music direction of pianist/composer Brian Simpson.
The all-star ensemble will join forces to perform many of Nick’s classic songs, providing fans what promises to be a memorable concert.
“I miss Nick’s big smile and bigger heart,” said Gerald Veasley serve as MC as well as performing for the concert. “He was beloved by fellow musicians who enjoyed making music with him onstage and sharing a laugh with him offstage.
“The Berks Jazz Fest had a special place in Nick’s heart. Though I miss Nick deeply, it will be a joy to honor him at jazz fest.”
In the late 1970s, the Chicago native played with the Impressions, did studio work for Natalie Cole, Curtis Mayfield and Al Green, and toured with the Staple Singers.
With his breakthrough solo album, Just Come On In in 2003, he achieved stardom with his mix of jazz and R&B.
In 2016, Nick released The Journey, which featured five consecutive No. 1 singles on the Billboard Smooth Jazz National Airplay and Smooth Jazz Songs charts. Nick was the first artist ever to have five straight singles from the same CD reach the top of the charts.
Nick recently finished recording the CD – Just Like That – which is scheduled to be released in late March.
Colionne was known for his cool threads, always dressing to the nines for his performances. He was known for his kindness to young musicians, teaching and mentoring many students in the Elgin, Illinois area.
“For nearly two decades, Nick has been a fixture of the Berks Jazz Fest,” said Justin Heimbecker, Berks Arts executive director. “We are grateful that our Berks family had so many opportunities to enjoy his amazing musicianship, endearing personality, sharp sense of humor, and of course, his unforgettable wardrobes. We will miss the musician and the man, and we send our love and prayers to his extended family.”