Home Jazz Berkshires Jazz Fall Sprawl with Brandon Goldberg

Berkshires Jazz Fall Sprawl with Brandon Goldberg


Brandon Goldberg. Photo courtesy of Sally Prissert — W Studio.

Berkshires Jazz continues to lead the resurgence of jazz in Berkshire County by welcoming an exciting new concept. During the weekend of November 18-20, they will present what they call the Berkshires Jazz Fall Sprawl. At the center of the event will be 16-year-old piano phenom Brandon Goldberg, who will make his Berkshire County debut with his trio at Ventfort Hall in Lenox on Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. The three-day event will range from small, local bands to the 17-piece Amherst Jazz Orchestra in venues from Pittsfield to Lenox. More information on the Berkshires Jazz Fall Sprawl and its full schedule can be found here. In order for Berkshires Jazz to present this incredible music-filled weekend, the Mill Town Foundation stepped up, as they have done before, by subsidizing the Brandon Goldberg Trio concert while allowing all other events to be presented free of charge.

Brandon Goldberg will make his Berkshire County debut with his trio at Ventfort Hall in Lenox on Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. Photo courtesy of gildedage.org.

The main event headliner is Brandon Goldberg, who was just 12 when he caught the attention of the Berkshires Jazz board. Brandon had already played the piano and made music since he was three, finding his passion for jazz by listening to the masters including Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He is currently working on his highly anticipated third album after his first two albums, “Let’s Play!” from 2019. (released when he was 13) and “In Good Time” from 2021. Both albums received four-star reviews from Downbeat Magazine. Each was listed as one of the best albums of the year in the magazine’s annual review.

Jazz standards and original compositions can be heard on his two albums which have garnered rave reviews from jazz critics. Gary Fukushima of Downbeat Magazine in November 2021 wrote: “… [His] unassailable technique, advanced harmonic understanding, a deep sense of swing and, most impressively, clarity and a plethora of ideas [are] executed almost to perfection. In September 2021, Leonard Weinreich of London Jazz News had this to say about “In Good Time”, “…this album takes it to the next level… [it’s] a categorical statement to indicate that [his] artistic development made his lack of years irrelevant.

I have listened to a good deal of Brandon’s playing, and after reading numerous reviews gushing about the young man’s talent, I have found that it is generally accepted that Brandon possesses a Mozartian precocity, while demonstrating the nuanced ease of a seasoned professional defying any characterization of him as a cheeky young curiosity. However, I’m much more inclined to put it bluntly: Forget his age, Brandon Goldberg is the real deal.

Brandon Goldberg and Berkshires Jazz President Ed Bride. Photo courtesy of Ella Goldberg.

He has performed at many prestigious jazz festivals, including those in Newport, Monterey and Litchfield. Click here to see Brandon perform at Litchfield Jazz Fest 2021. His resume includes playing the stages of some of the world’s most renowned jazz clubs in New York City and beyond, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Blue Note, Birdland Theater and Dizzy’s Club where he is due to perform on January 17 and 18 next year. .

The Goldberg family call Miami, Florida home, where Brandon performed with the Miami Symphony Orchestra which recognized his talent early on. In 2018, when Brandon was 12, and a year later in 2019, he was commissioned by the orchestra to write two original compositions for piano and orchestra. The compositions, “Surroundings” and “Rhapsody in F Minor” received resounding praise. Although Brandon and his family call Miami home, they have ties to Berkshire County. His family owns a home in Pittsfield where they hope to spend more time in the future.

The concert will take place in the library of the 28,000-square-foot, 28-room Ventfort Hall mansion built for Sarah Morgan, sister of industrialist JP Morgan, and her husband George Morgan when Lenox was the center of social season during the Golden age. . Interestingly, the Morgans had the same last name before their marriage, but were apparently only distant relatives. Construction of the Jacobean Revival mansion was completed in 1893 and was one of more than 70 “cottages” built by the absurdly wealthy of Lenox and surrounding areas at the time. The interior of Ventfort Hall is particularly distinguished and generally regarded as the most elaborate of the Gilded Age mansions in the region. The mansion was saved by a group of concerned local citizens just days before its scheduled demolition in 1997 as it was slowly swallowed up by the surrounding woods. The 1999 Academy Award-winning film “The Cider House Rules” contributed to its early restoration when the exterior of the mansion was used in the film as St. Cloud’s orphanage. Since then, Ventfort Hall has been beautifully restored, houses the Golden Age Museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Brandon will perform on the Morgans’ long-lost Steinway piano, purchased directly from the factory in 1895. Photo courtesy of gildedage.org.

Brandon will perform on the long-lost Steinway, purchased direct from the factory by the Morgans in 1895 specifically for Ventfort Hall. Sadly, Sarah Morgan died the following year, cutting short her enjoyment of the unprecedented elegant sound for which a Steinway is celebrated. After George’s death in 1911, all the furniture in Ventfort Hall was auctioned off when the Morgan children took possession. All of them, that is, except the Morgan’s Steinway, which moved to a family home in New York. It remained in the family for subsequent generations before ending up in Portland, Oregon, from where the magnificent six-foot rosewood piano was finally returned to its original home in September 2021 thanks to a donation from the great, tall, Morgans. great grandson.

Brandon will be joined by two superb musicians, bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer Aaron Kimmel, who both play regularly with Brandon as part of the Brandon Goldberg Trio. Ben Wolfe is on the faculty of the Juilliard School and has performed in bands led by Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis. Wynton Marsalis had this to say about Ben’s playing: “Ben Wolfe swings with authority.” Aaron Kimmel is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where he studied with Kenny Washington and Billy Drummond, and regularly freelances at Smalls and Dizzy’s Club in New York. He has performed with jazz luminaries such as Harry Allen, Ann Hampton Callaway and Jon Faddis.

A cash bar including beer and wine will be available before and after the concert and audience members are welcome to meet Brandon after the concert. Tickets can be purchased for $35 on the Berkshires Jazz homepage. Berkshires Jazz chairman Ed Bride said tickets were selling out fast for the limited-seat concert and suggested buying tickets as soon as possible.