Arts & Events
The 14th Annual Jazz on Fourth Festival, which benefits Berkeley High School performing arts program, takes place this Sunday, May 17.
The festival will feature free live outdoor performances by the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble and Combo, the Charles Hamilton Alumni Band (including past players from the BHS ensemble, led by their mentor), blues by Johnny Nitro & and the Doorslammers from North Beach, and salsa by Tito y su Son de Cuba, protegés of the Buena Vista Social Club. The event will fill Berkeley’s Fourth Street, between Hearst and Virginia, from noon to 5 p.m.
During the festival, there will be a raffle to benefit the Berkeley High jazz programs, with prizes donated by the Fourth Street merchants, including the grand prize of a $1,000 gift certificate at Pave Fine Jewelry.
Fourth Street and the plaza will be filled with local merchants with interactive displays, food, and children’s activities, including facepainting. There will be two beer gardens, a sake garden, and two stages where alternating bands will play, until the finale, from 4 to 5 p. m., by the cream of the Berkeley High jazz players.
Charles Hamilton, described as “the glue that holds the BHS jazz program together,” has assembled a one-time only group of Berkeley High alumni: Josh Jones on drums; Michael Aaberg on piano; Ben Bail on alto sax; Miles Perkins on bass; Joshi Martin on tenor sax; Mark Wright on trumpet and Moshe Milon on percussion. Hamilton will be retiring after 25 years at Berkeley High.
“It’s an extraordinary event,” said Jenny Bloomfield, parent coordinator along with Cherilyn Brunetti for the fundraising and support group for the jazz program. “They’ve been sponsoring us for 14 years; the truly extensive, three-tiered jazz program at Berkeley High is possible in good part because of their sponsoring.”
The Charles Hamiltom Alumni Band, according to Bloomfield, has been putting together a CD of Hamilton’s own music, recording at Fantasy Studios. “Charles wrote these tunes for his own five children over the years,” she said. “We heard some of it on a recent KCSM broadcast. I think the band that’ll play Sunday was born out of that project.”
Later this year, the program will send an ensemble of 27 students to the Montreux Festival in Switzerland. “We send groups to various competitions,” said Bloomfield. “We were just at the Next Generations Festival in Monterey.”
Bllomfield spoke of Hamilton and the program: “In the years Charles has been there, the standard has been just constant. And every year, we get new players in who are really exceptional. And the support for the program is truly committed. Cheri Brunetti, whose son is a trombone player like Charles, is unvolved with a medical practice, running from cubicle to cubicle, yet finds the time to put in the work for the jazz program. What keeps the funding alive is people like her.”