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PREVIEW: Jazz at Lincoln Center musicians Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack III celebrate the Great American Songbook, March 23, at the Mahaiwe

These musicians will be backed on the 23rd by a rhythm section comprising Jocelyn Gould on guitar, Miki Yamanaka on piano, Charles Goold on drums, and Mark Lewandowski on bass.

Great Barrington — According to The Wall Street Journal, Bria Skonberg “plays trumpet like a red hot devil and sings like a dream.”

New York Times critic Nate Chinen wrote, “Ms. Skonberg has become the shining hope of hot jazz, on the strength of a clarion trumpet style indebted to Louis Armstrong, a smooth purr of a singing voice inspired by Anita O’Day and the wholesome glow of youth.”

If these accolades give you insufficient reason to come to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on March 23, then adding trumpeter Benny Benack into the mix will do the trick and provide all the motivation you require. These two musicians are affiliated with Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) and will be backed on the 23rd by a rhythm section comprising Jocelyn Gould on guitar, Miki Yamanaka on piano, Charles Goold on drums, and Mark Lewandowski on bass.

Trumpeter Bria Skonberg. Photo by Shervin Lainez.

In addition to trumpet chops, both musicians have their own singing style, Bria’s aforementioned “smooth purr of a singing voice,” and what Benny’s website describes as “sly, mature, naturally expressive delivery in the post-Sinatra mold.” Thus equipped, Bria and Benny will re-imagine some of the classic songs made popular by George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and others, while paying tribute to such vocal greats as Ella Fitzgerald and the beloved combos of Judy Garland and Bing Crosby, as well as Dean Martin and Peggy Lee.

Trumpeter Benny Benack. Photo by @jazzaddikt.

Skonberg has led The Big Bang Jazz Band, as well as her own group, Bria’s Hot Five, and co-founded the New York Hot Jazz Festival. She has performed with Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Wycliffe Gordon, and Shaye Cohn, and won the 2017 Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.

Downbeat Magazine voted Benack 2023’s Number Two Male Jazz Vocalist “rising star” and a “rising star” on trumpet. He has recorded three studio albums, the third of which was released in June. It features Peter Bernstein, Emmet Cohen, Chad LB, and others. You may have seen Benny perform on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, and he also served as house trumpeter for NBC’s variety show “Maya & Marty,” as well as host and featured soloist of Postmodern Jukebox. He is a regular with Charlie Rosen and the 8-Bit Big Band.

Wynton Marsalis directs JALC’s touring initiative, which is about showcasing up-and-coming musicians the organization has identified as rising stars. Jazz at Lincoln Center has been a leading advocate for jazz, culture, and arts education for over three decades.

Hear trumpeters Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, on Saturday, March 23, at 8 p.m. This is a Mahaiwe Member & Youth Discount Event. Tickets, $34 to $69, are available here or by calling (413) 528-0100, Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m.

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