Coming Attractions in Jazz: Autumn Festival Update

By J. R. Carroll.

The final installment in our jazz festival preview series picks the best bets for the outdoor Beantown Jazz Festival and then checks out what’s happening in Falmouth and Pittsfield as the leaves begin to turn.

Wild Magnolias Big Chief Bo Dollis

Wild Magnolias Big Chief Bo Dollis

The outdoor portion of the Beantown Jazz Festival finally arrives on Saturday, September 25. Spread along Columbus Ave., between Mass. Ave. and Burke St., in Boston’s South End, the festival features simultaneous events on three separate stages, not unlike Newport and a number of other outdoor festivals. (This is by design, whereas the indoor gigs avoided simultaneity, embracing only a chosen handful of the many performances taking place during the 10 days leading up to the outdoor festival.)

Attendees have several options: Park yourself at one stage for the entire afternoon; pick a single set in each time slot; or, wander among the stages and catch snippets of all or most of the performers. (Download the Saturday schedule and plot your own strategy.)

Since my personal preference is to be a serial chiller, here are my recommendations:

  • 12:00 p.m.
  • Berklee Global Jazz Institute Ensemble
    Berklee Stage

    If you happened to catch WGBH’s studio performance by this group, you, too, may have been impressed with what artistic director Danilo Pérez and these young musicians have accomplished during the brief time the Ensemble has existed.

    Pianist Andy Milne

    Pianist Andy Milne

  • 1:15 p.m.
  • Andy Milne and Dapp Theory
    Target Stage

    Describing what pianist Andy Milne and his quintet Dapp Theory are up to is a challenge. (Patricia Barber meets the Roots? Stevie Wonder meets Prime Time? Joe Lovano meets Bjork?) Milne is an innovative voice—no, make that several innovative voices—and whatever he shows up with on Saturday is bound to be way beyond interesting.

  • 2:15 p.m.
  • The Greg Osby 6 Featuring Mark Turner
    Berklee Stage

    This is some seriously serendipitous scheduling: Saxophonist Greg Osby was an important mentor to Andy Milne. Osby is always worth hearing, but this time around he’s bringing something special in the person of Fly reedman Mark Turner. Not to be missed.

  • 3:30 p.m.
  • The Boogaloo Swamis
    BeanTown Stage

    This year’s Beantown Jazz Festival is in part a tribute to New Orleans, so it seems appropriate that they’ve invited Mickey Bones and his Boogaloo Swamis to the party. (Zydeco from Somerville? Yep.) This one’s just for the fun of it.

  • 4:45 p.m.
  • The Wild Magnolias
    Target Stage

    Masking in the South End? The Wild Magnolias, led by Big Chief Bo Dollis, have been parading at Mardi Gras and other New Orleans festivals for over half a century, so why not here? (And why, unfortunately, at the same time as Jon Batiste?) This is a sure cure for Treme deprivation and a spectacular way to wrap up the outdoor festival.

Jon Batiste Band ENCORE from Blue Note on Vimeo.

If the scheduling obliged you to miss pianist Jon Batiste at Beantown, you’ll get a second chance on Saturday, Oct0ber 2, at 7 p.m., when he and his quintet headline this year’s JazzFest Falmouth. (This particular performance takes place at the Cape Cod Conservatory on Highland Drive.)

The previous evening, starting at 5 p.m., you can catch a variety of local performers up and down Main Street during the JazzFest’s annual Jazz Stroll. Bookending the festival, the JazzFest winds down with a selection of jazz brunches in and around Falmouth and Woods Hole beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

The resurgent city of Pittsfield has been receiving some welcome media attention this week, but largely overlooked have been the contributions of Pittsfield’s jazz community. The Pittsfield CityJazz Festival runs from October 8–21 and hoists a tent over a variety of performances, many of them free.

The first weekend, Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10, is devoted to “Jazz About Town,” featuring a very diverse array of regional performers.

The second weekend offers concert performances by visiting artists. On Friday, October 15, at 7:30 p.m., vibraphonist Joe Baione and his quintet appear at the Crown Plaza Hotel. The following evening at 8 p.m., baritone saxophonist Claire Daly is guest soloist with both the Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble and the American Jazz Repertory Orchestra at the Colonial Theatre.

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