Jeffrey Osborne

Keiko Matsui

The 29th annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest as presented by the Berks Arts Council once again will glitter with a galaxy of stars performing April 5-14, 2019.

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, blues, 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.

CLICK HERE to get digital, printable copy of the 2019 Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest brochure!

The Berks Jazz Fest is noted for featuring marquee musical artists and the 29th edition has such heavyweights as multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson in the Opening Night Celebration; saxophonist Boney James; vocalist Jeffrey Osborne; The Jazz Cruise All-Stars: legendary trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Eric Marienthal with trumpeter Terrell Stafford; Journey Hall of Fame drummer Steve Smith & Vital Information NYC Edition; blues masters guitarist/vocalist Walter Trout and keyboardist Bruce Katz; pianist Keiko Matsui with the Reading Pops Orchestra kicking off their 50th Anniversary Celebration; the Allman Betts Band featuring Devon Allman and Duane Betts — the sons of Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts; premier blues band Tommy Katona & Texas Flood; and acclaimed keyboardist Bob James.

Brian Culberston

The 2019 Berks Jazz Fest is populated with a number of unforgettable tribute shows that undoubtedly will delight audiences.

Saxophonist Art Sherrod and The ASJ Orchestra’s Motown, Soul Revue and Aretha Franklin Tribute featuring saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, saxophonist Elan Trotman, guitarist Paul Brown, vocalist Kevin Whalum vocalist Tracy Hamlin, trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, guitarist David P Stevens and organist/pianist Benjie Porecki.

“We’re in This Love Together:” A Tribute to Al Jarreau starring Chris Walker, Jarreau’s longtime bassist and musical director, featuring special guests vocalist Regina Belle, trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Eric Marienthal.

Grover at 75! Grover Washington Jr., one of the most influential saxophonists of all time and one of the founders of the smooth jazz genre who passed away in 1999, would have turned 75 on Dec. 12, 2019. Paying tribute are saxophonist/bassist/keyboardist Gerald Albright, saxophonist Everette Harp, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, saxophonist Andy Snitzer with Grover Washington Jr.’s Original Band and The Berks Horns.

Lean On Me: Vocalist José James Celebrates Bill Withers, the legendary R&B singer/songwriter. Vocalist Lizz Wright also is on the bill.

Celebrating the Music of Weather Report, one of the pre-eminent early jazz fusion bands, as only producer/keyboardist Jason Miles can do it. Joining in the celebration are trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Bob Mintzer, bassist Gerald Veasley, violinist Karen Briggs, multi-instrumentalist Mino Cinélu and drummer Richie Morales.

“I Got Life:” The Music of Nina Simone, the High Priestess of Soul with her seductive and hypnotic voice who was one of the most extraordinary artists of the 20th century, featuring vocalist Carol Riddick and bassist Gerald Veasley.

Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s boisterous blend of funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop plus Slam Allen’s Tribute to James Cotton featuring harp player Steve Guyger, harmonica player Rene Carlson and harmonicist/vocalist Mikey Junior. With his blast-furnace sound and larger-than-life personality, Grammy Award-wining harmonica master James “Superharp” Cotton, who died in 2017, was a blues giant in every respect.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool Tribute featuring saxophonist Mike Eben, saxophonist Chris Heslop, tuba and bass trombonist Ken Kemmerer, drummer Dave Lazorcik, trumpeter Bob Meashey, bassist Steve Meashey, keyboardist Marty Mellinger, saxophonist Albert Rivera, trombonist Bill Smith and French hornist Al Stokes. Davis, the iconic jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer, was among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music.

Berks Jazz Fest is famous for its collaboration concerts and this edition is no exception.

The Allman Betts Band

Sweet, Sexy Soul! with vocalists Howard Hewitt, Will Downing and Avery Sunshine.

The Soul of Jazz! with vocalist Eric Roberson, guitarist Nick Colionne, keyboardist Brian Simpson and pianist Alex Bugnon.

The Sax Pack! with, of course, saxophonists — Steve Cole, Jeff Kashiwa and Jackiem Joyner.

West Coast Jam! with saxophonist Richard Elliot, trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White.

Two-time Grammy-nominated writer and producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis & Friends featuring vocalist Phil Perry, guitarist Nick Colionne, vocalist Maysa, saxophonist Kim Waters, saxophonist Art Sherrod and flutist Althea Rene.

Bassist Brian Bromberg’s Unapologetically Funky Big Bombastic Band featuring saxophonist Everette Harp, guitarist Ray Fuller, drummer Tony Moore, pianist Tom Zink and The Berks Horns.

Of course, the most amazing collaborative undertaking of Berks Jazz Fest every year is the Berks All-Star Jam, which has been rechristened the Chuck Loeb Memorial All-Star Jam.

Loeb, who passed way from cancer in 2017, was the musical director of the All-Star Jam, turning it from a loose jam session into a well-produced concert without losing any of its improvisational characteristics. Once again, the Jam will be jammed with a bevy of marquee artists.

Then there is the popular Gerald Veasley Midnight Jam that will transpire on the two Fridays and two Saturdays of the festival and feature a number of artists both weekends.

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum’s Gospel According to Jazz Celebration has become a staple as the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest finale. This edition features special guest Take 6, the most awarded cappella group in history with 10 Grammy Awards, plus vocalist Kevin Whalum, vocalist/keyboardist John Stoddart and Reading’s own DOXA Gospel Ensemble.

Kirk Whalum

Other notable concerts include pianist/keyboardist/vocalist Joe McBride and The Texas Rhythm Club featuring The Berks Horns’ Mike Anderson, Rob Diener, Chuck Gottesman, Skip Spratt and Andy Mohler; the Dave Stahl Quintet featuring Tom Strohman, Lew Leabman, Wayne Fox and Rob Cochran; Reggie Brown & Bunch-A-Funk; The Royal Scam Steely Dan tribute; Cullen & Company featuring David Cullen, Matt Cullen, Cliff Starkey and Chico Huff plus the Peter Rogan Band featuring Cliff Starkey, Fred Moreadith, John Fundyga and Charise Rogosky; Kayla Waters and Teen Town; Julien Labro, Olli Soikkeli Quartet plus The Hot Club of Reading with special guest Gonzalo Bergara; Django Reinhardt All-Star Djam hosted by Julien Labro featuring Olli Soikkeli, Josh Taylor, Max O’Rourke, Eduardo Belo, Chris Heslop, Trey LaRue, Zach Brock and Gonzalo Bergara; Carl Filipiak & The Jimi Jazz Band; Erich Cawalla’s Uptown Band; and pianist Bobby Lyle and Kenny Blake.

The Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest also is notable for its free community concerts with military bands.

The U.S. Navy Band Commodores will perform in two concerts, one with the Berks High School All-Star Jazz Band directed by Kevin Kjos. The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors will perform in the festival as well.

Get JazzED is a music-in-education program of Berks Jazz Fest, dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performance and developing new audiences. There are several concerts with Get JazzED tie-ins.

There are two Doc Mulligan Get JazzED Day concerts on April 7, with the Middle School Big Band Festival in the afternoon and the High School Big Band Festival in the evening. Get JazzED Day is named in honor of Doc Mulligan, whose trombone playing and skillfully arranged charts have been a fixture in the Berks County musical world for many years.

Get JazzED Night on April 8: RMF Project Penske Jazz Jam hosted by Mike Eben, Albert Rivera, Gerald Veasley and Brian Bromberg.

On Jazz Appreciation Day in Reading on April 10, the Kutztown University Jazz Ensemble I plus the Berks High School All-Stars Jazz Band, both directed by Kevin Kjos, will be in concert. The Chuck Loeb Memorial Scholarship Winners also will be honored.

There will be several Berks Jazz Fest preview concerts: Hot Club of Philadelphia; Craig Thatcher Jazz Project; Dave Stahl Big Band featuring Andy Snitzer and Gerald Veasley; Piano Duet: Kirk Reese and Andy Roberts plus the Berks Piano Quartet; and The Last Big Band.

Arturo Sandoval performs in a post Berks Jazz Fest concert..

Through the creation and support of varying arts events, community collaborations and grants, the Berks Arts Council positively impacts our community cultural and economic well-being. The mission of the Berks Arts Council is to inspire, unite and grow our community through arts collaboration, education and presentations.

Our vision is to support community and economic growth, promote positive change and create a more connected community.

Today, in everything the Berks Arts Council does and supports, we seek to make Berks County, PA a more creative, more desirable and a more resilient community.
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