Arts, Dining & Entertainment

Chris Bakriges leads benefit, “Playing for Change: A Concert For Hope” at ArtisTree Community Arts Center, Oct. 9

Courtesy of ArtisTree


Friday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. — SOUTH POMFRET — Chris Bakriges and internationally renowned artists will fill ArtisTree’s performance hall with the sound of jazz during a special performance Friday, Oct. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. Joining pianist Chris Bakriges are Jay Hoggard on vibraphone, Billy Arnold on drums, and Avery Sharpe on bass. Their personal and collective quest is part of this fascinating evening of music called “Playing for Change: A Concert For Hope.”

The group plays music inspired by songs and spirit from around the world in celebration of the global humanitarian efforts and achievements of people and agencies working for peace through the universal language of music. Music is elemental, universal, instinctive, and speaks to the soul – a mysterious pulse at the very heart of the human experience. This tale is a panorama of the world’s music and a vivid portrait of the pioneers who traveled far and wide to collect it. Hoggard, Sharpe, Bakriges, and Arnold have not only performed far and wide with the greats, they are also dedicated scholars of various traditional music all over the globe.

Vibraphonist Jay Hoggard’s music has touched the hearts and souls of listeners around the world for forty years. His music has been described as positive, spiritual, uplifting and happy, seamlessly blending jazz and gospel roots with African marimba rhythms. He draws on traditional and contemporary musical vocabulary to develop new directions for the vibraphone.

In talking about bassist Avery Sharpe, writer and New York Times music critic Gene Santoro says simply, “forget about categories like mainstream and fusion and neobop … because if there’s one thing you can say about Avery Sharpe …  it’s that there’s no label worth hanging on him except musician. And at that, he’s extraordinary.”

Whether it was decades ago on the chitlin’ circuit or his current work for Young @ Heart Chorus, Billy Arnold has maintained that the rudiments of drumming are the rudiments of life. With Young @ Heart, Arnold has played in Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and South Africa, where he was working with artists through a cultural exchange program at the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst, Massachusetts. He was recently honored at the first annual L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards (Living Entertainment Greats in the Arts, Culture and Youth Development) that acknowledged him as one of the greatest known and unknown contributors to the world of entertainment, the arts, culture and youth development from the Western Massachusetts area.

“No matter how small, musicians create a movement over time that connect the world through music,” Bakriges notes. “It’s through music that we can understand our differences and create a better world.” Bakriges, a pianist, composer, and ethnomusicologist of Greek decent, has not only performed in musical meccas such as London, Toronto, New York, and Paris, but relishes playing in places where one wouldn’t think that global-inspired jazz would have much currency like India, Pakistan, Turkey, and the Czech Republic. “Improvisation is the basis for our understanding, trust, and ultimate friendship.” He adds that, “creative music is the weapon of the future to conquer mistrust, poverty, and hate.”

These artists come together from three states and use the lens of jazz to present an engrossing original sonic odyssey inspired by the world’s musical heritage and their ongoing effort to understand, appreciate, and preserve it.

Tickets are $20. Advance reservations are required, and there is limited seating. Visit for more information or to reserve seats.

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