The 31st edition of Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest will enter its fourth decade with a duration of 10 days from April 1 to 10, celebrating jazz in all its manifestations, from blues to big band, from bebop to contemporary, from fusion to Latin. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.
The festival, presented by Berks Arts, will open with the traditional Harold B. Leifer Memorial Luncheon at the Peanut Bar restaurant in downtown Reading, featuring the Groovemasters, featuring bassist Bennie Sims, keyboardist Cliff Starkey and saxophonist / singer Erich Cawalla.
The opening night will feature the famous Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with trumpeter / composer / director Wynton Marsalis at the Santander Performing Arts Center.
Marsalis, who was the headliner of the inaugural Berks Jazz Fest, returned with JALCO for the 20th and 25th anniversary festivals, and last performed in Reading in May 2021 with the JALCO Septet in the one of the first live concerts in the region after COVID-19. His performance on April 1 is sure to be one of the highlights of the festival.
Festival general manager John Ernesto said several special presentations – a staple of the annual festival – are planned for 2022, including “Celebrating the Women in Jazz,” featuring iconic singers Patti Austin and Maysa, on Saturday 9 April at DoubleTree by Hilton Reading in the Grand Ballroom.
Austin will appear as part of the celebratory women in jazz concert produced by Chris “Big Dog” Davis, where she will share the stage with the incredible Maysa Leak. Both are known around the world for their brilliant vocals, and both have careers that include national awards, hits, and international tours. Appear with them the singers Selina Albright (Gerald’s daughter) and Lindsey Webster; saxophonist Jessy J; violinist Karen Briggs; flutist Althea Rene; and multi-instrumentalist Marcia Miget.
“When we approached Chris about producing the project, he just said, ‘I love the idea. Let’s do it, ”said Ernesto. “Chris did an amazing job producing special themed concerts for the festival. This year’s tribute to the music of Stevie Wonder was a huge hit with our fans.
“I have no doubt that the ‘Celebrating Women in Jazz’ concert will be a memorable musical experience.”
Headliners for the 2022 jazz festival will include Bela Fleck, who was due to appear with the Flecktones in 2020 but was unable to attend the rescheduled festival in August. Bela fans will be happy to hear that he will be performing with his “My Bluegrass Heart” tour project on April 2 in the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading Grand Ballroom.
Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabakuro will make his Berks Jazz Fest debut with his band on April 9 at the Miller Center for the Arts, bringing his signature rock-style to the small instrument. The Hawaiian-born Japanese-American musician has explored a variety of musical styles and his latest album, “Jake and Friends,” connects him with an array of legendary musicians including Willie Nelson, Moon Taxi, Bette Midler, Kenny Loggins, Jimmy Buffett and more.
Other notable headliners and concerts at the 2022 festival include:
Anniversary Celebration Concert with Eric Marienthal, Rick Braun, Keiko Matsui, Nick Colonne, Everette Harp, Adam Hawley, Chris Walker and The Berks Horns
The Chuck Loeb Memorial All-Star Jam which will feature Patti Austin performing a mix of her hits.
David Sanborn & Friends with Randy Brecker and Joey DeFrancesco
Regular Brian Culbertson Festival with Marcus Anderson
Peter White & Vincent Ingala with special guest Mindi Abair
Najee with special guests Bobby Lyle and Phil Perry
The Royal Scam and the Reading Pops Orchestra performing the music of Steely Dan
SFJazz Collective, a leaderless band from San Francisco exploring the latest in innovative jazz
Blues artists Selwyn Birchwood, John Nemeth and Craig Thatcher & Mike Guldin
Norman Brown, Gregg Karukas and Eric Darius with Rebecca Jade
Everette Harp and Andy Snitzer launch their new project “Inspirations! “
The Fest Finale with Rick Braun and Gerald Albright with special guest Jeff Lorber
Every Friday and Saturday at 11:30 p.m., fans can continue partying with Gerald Veasley Jams in the little DoubleTree Ballroom. And during the weekdays, music will be performed with special free community concerts and regional bands in more intimate venues.
“We look forward to seeing the festival return to its traditional spring schedule,” said Justin Heimbecker, executive director of Berks Arts. “Having presented the twice postponed 30th Anniversary Festival last August, it’s a quick turnaround, but the entire Berks Jazz Fest team is ready to do it again.
“With a strong and diverse lineup of artists, attracting a cross section of music fans, we anticipate a successful festival. “
Check out the full program at www.berksjazzfest.com, as well as more information about the musicians and educational opportunities.
In line: Order through the website, www.berksjazzfest.com.
In person: Stop at the Santander Arena ticket office, Seventh Street and Penn Street on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, starting at 10 a.m.