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PREVIEW: Berkshires Jazz Summer Showcase on Saturday, July 13, features Michael Junkins, Pamela Knowles, Don Mikkelsen

Bring your own chairs or blankets, and arrive hungry, because you will definitely want to enjoy the diverse offerings of area food trucks. Not to mention the beer and wine garden.

Pittsfield — If you like jazz music but don’t feel like galavanting around the Berkshires after dark visiting the county’s many jazz night spots, then you will be interested to know that a lineup of popular local jazz musicians will perform at this year’s Berkshires Jazz Summer Showcase on Saturday, July 13, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Pittsfield Common.

The event takes place on the field adjacent to the playground at First Street Common in Pittsfield. For seating, you should bring your own chairs or blankets, and it is best to arrive hungry, because you will definitely want to enjoy the diverse offerings of area food trucks. Not to mention the beer and wine garden.

The festival begins with the Michael Junkins Group. Michael is a well-established fixture on the local jazz scene, appearing regularly at Race Brook Lodge, the Lion’s Den, Bascom Lodge, and other venues. He plays standards and originals with Matt Steckler on saxophone and BSO percussionist Will Hudgins on vibes. Steckler is a saxophonist/woodwind specialist but also performs on vocals, keyboards, percussion, and electronic media.

Time Off Magazine has compared Pamela Knowles’ voice to “an expensive glass of wine — full-bodied, complex, and delicious.” She has appeared in jazz clubs from London to Paris and at concert venues in Sweden, Finland, India, and Italy, as well as at festivals in Australia, New Zealand, and North America. Knowles’ “Thirteen Kinds of Desire,” a setting of 13 verses by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, has earned glowing reviews. Steve Rath, senior producer Of NPR’s “Jazz At Lincoln Center,” wrote, “Knowles, an uncommonly good singer, sets Kommunyakaa’s deep lyrics with casual precision. The tracks shift by — husky, mysterious, playful, clear and swinging. It’s thirteen kinds of engagement.” Knowles will appear on July 13 with pianist Tim Regusis, bassist Tarik Shah, and drummer Tido Holtkemp.

Trombonist Don Mikkelsen has played with Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Tom Jones, Mel Torme, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the house band at Caesar’s Palace, and a great many more. Mikkelsen’s discography tells a fuller story, with recording credits ranging from Grandmaster Flash and Peter Gabriel to Ann-Margret and the Louie Bellson Big Band. In fact, his Bellson credits go back to the early 1980s. Mikkelsen will be joined on July 13 by keyboardist Tardo Hammer, bassist Otto Garder, and drummer Pete Sweeney.

Lead sponsor for the Berkshires Jazz Showcase is The Berkshire Eagle, with additional support from HiBrid, Mountain One, the Mill Town Foundation, and the City of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development.

Hear the Michael Junkins Group, Pamela Knowles, and the Don Mikkelsen Quartet at Pittsfield Common on Saturday, July 13, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., in the annual Berkshires Jazz Summer Showcase. This event is free of charge.

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