GREAT BARRINGTON -- A little jazz, a little American Songbook, a little witty talk -- just another summer weekend at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.
The weekend events begin at 8 tonight with sax master Joshua Redman joining the classic jazz piano trio, The Bad Plus, and ends 7 p.m. Sunday with vocalist Michael Feinstein and his trio in an evening of material from the American Songbook. Sandwiched between Redman and Feinstein at 8 p.m. Saturday is author and journalist Fran Lebowitz in a conversation hosted by WAMC / Northeast Public Radio's Joe Donahue.
"Redman's intense and fiery tenor sax meshes with The Bad Plus' skewed takes on standards, modern rock anthems, and their own compositions," Mahaiwe executive director Beryl Jolly said in a news release. "We are looking forward to an exciting evening of contemporary jazz."
Born in Berkeley, Calif. and educated at Harvard (graduating summa cum laude), Redman is the son of saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff.
Redman's professional music career began with a first place prize at the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition.
A record deal with Warner Brothers soon followed, and Redman suddenly became the new face of jazz. Initially playing with established jazz greats like Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, and Charlie Haden, Redman soon branched out to become a formidable bandleader in his own right. He's now released 15 recordings, two of which have been nominated for a Grammy.
The Bad Plus -- pianist Ethan Iverson, drummer Dave King, and bassist Reid Anderson -- first gained notice for their audacious, script-flipping interpretations of rock and pop songs. Tunes that have gotten the Bad Plus treatment include Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," Blondie's "Heart of Glass," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," The Bee Gees's "How Deep Is Your Love?" and even Stravinsky's "Variation d'Apollon." Yet, despite their reputation for brilliant covers, The Minnesota-based band's 2012 album, "Made Possible," focused exclusively on new pieces contributed by all three musicians.
Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed "The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook," is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, and the Hollywood Bowl, as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace.
"His holiday concert with us sold out several years ago and we are very happy to have him return to Great Barrington," Jolly said in a news release
At the Mahaiwe, Feinstein will be accompanied by his trio: Tedd Firth (musical director / piano), Bryan Carter (drums), and Sean Smith (bass).
The roots of all his work began in Columbus, Ohio, where Feinstein started playing piano by ear as a five-year-old. After graduating from high school, he worked in local piano bars for two years, moving to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of renowned concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin's assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.
Gershwin's influence provided a solid base upon which Feinstein evolved into a performer, composer, and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an interpreter of music legends, such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, and Harry Warren.
Most recently, in April 2013 Feinstein released a new CD, "Change of Heart: The Songs of Andre Previn," in collaboration with composer-conductor-pianist Andre Previn -- an album honoring Previn's repertoire from his catalog of pop songs that have most commonly been featured in motion pictures.
Purveyor of urban cool, witty chronicler of the "me decade," and the cultural satirist whom many call the heir to Dorothy Parker, Fran Lebowitz offers insights on timely issues such as gender, race, gay rights, and the media, as well as her own pet peeves, including celebrity culture, tourists, and strollers.
Lebowitz' first two classic books of essays, "Metropolitan Life" and "Social Studies," have been collected in the "Fran Lebowitz Reader." She is also the author of the children's book, "Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas." She recently broke a 10-year writer's block and is back at work on her novel, "Exterior Signs of Wealth." A documentary film about Fran Lebowitz, "Public Speaking," directed by Martin Scorsese, premiered on HBO in November 2010.
Joe Donahue, who will host Lebowitz' appearance at the Mahaiwe, is the host and producer of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio's "The Roundtable," a three-hour daily talk show. He also is the host of the nationally syndicated program, "The Book Show." In addition, Donahue is the station's vice president of news and programming and an adjunct professor at his alma mater, The College of Saint Rose.
"Lebowitz's remarks are sure to be topical and memorable, and peppered with her signature biting wit ," Jolly said in a news release.