To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In the afterglow of the ninth annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, and The Berkshire Eagle’s excellent coverage, I feel it is important to point out a fascinating yet overlooked and underappreciated element: the local talent that abounds in the Berkshires.
What was overlooked in the Eagle’s coverage was the trio that backed Zoe Obadia in her "jazz prodigy" concert at the Berkshire Athenaeum. All of these musicians are first-call players on their instrument, often leading groups of their own in different settings. And, up until 4 p.m. on the day of the concert, Zoe had never been in the same room with these three musicians: Andy Jaffe (piano), Dan Broad (bass) and Connor Meehan (drums). This is one of the remarkable facets of her (and their) talent: to put together a memorable performance with one 90-minute rehearsal. It is also one of the beauties of improvisational music.
Many people believe that the most important aspect of the festival is its work with students; this includes visits by the Sister City Jazz Ambassadors to the schools; clinics with middle school students (Geoff Vidal at Herberg); and, the well-covered concert by the Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble and the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. To see the Brubeck ensemble’s musicians working with those students was a remarkable experience. Profiling high school senior Zoe Obadia was another way to maintain the visibility and the importance of music programs in the schools.
Kudos to The Eagle for its comprehensive coverage. And, hats off to the local musicians who work year-round to keep America’s cultural gift to the world vibrant on the local scene, long after the headliners are back on the road. Indeed, the 10 venues that presented performances in the annual "jazz crawl" reported record audiences. Headliners are great, but without this active local scene, jazz would disappear from the cultural landscape.
The writer is president, Berkshires Jazz, Inc.