10 Castle Street, Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230  413-528-5244
"Where to Eat in Great Barrington"
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413-528-5244
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Chef Michael Ballon prepares
Lamb Scaloppine with Babaghanouj, Mushroom Soup, and Warm Cranberry Cobbler


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Jazz from CASTLE STREET CAFE



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I became a serious jazz fan while cooking in New York City and listening to Phil Schaap on WKCR in the 1980s. The restaurant’s Argentinian porter - a couple of decades my senior - used to dance around the kitchen with a broom to Birdflight, Schaap’s early morning Charlie Parker segment. I’m still listening to old cassettes taped from Schaap’s marathon birthday tributes to Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk and other greats.

When the opportunity arose to expand Castle Street Café, I knew I wanted to create a venue for live jazz in the Berkshires. I hoped to continue a tradition established at The Music Inn in Lenox, which became, in the 1950s, a haven for some of America’s greatest jazz performers. The Celestial Bar at Castle Street Café opened in December 1997 with Nat King Cole’s baby grand piano gracing the stage (the piano has since been retired) and William Gottlieb’s classic photographs of jazz greats from the 1930s and ’40s lining the walls.

Ten years later, the bar continues to present a wide variety of styles, from blues to Be Bop. I am indebted to Mike Schiffer, who has booked our acts from the beginning and in the process introduced me to jazz musicians from Albany and the Berkshires to Brooklyn. Although their names are not necessarily well known, many have played with jazz legends such as Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and Sonny Rollins, and it is a pleasure to showcase their extraordinary musical talent in Great Barrington. Jazz clubs are an all too endangered species in this country. Just this past year, New York’s legendary Bottom Line closed, reminding us all how challenging it is to present live jazz.

In celebration of our 10th year of live jazz at Castle Street Cafe, we are proud to release this CD, showcasing 14 performers who play at the Celestial Bar. Great food and live jazz are celebrations of the senses. My staff and I invite you to the café for a taste of both.

Michael Ballon

1.Adrian Cohen Trio,"Be Bop"
2.Jay Messer Quintet,"Chet"
3.Ted Rosenthal Trio, "Sisters"
4.Teri Roiger,"I Just Got Back in Town"
5.Leo Russo Quartet, "Big Bear"
6.Playscape Quintet, Órd Street Café"
7.Francesca Tanksley Trio, "Into The Light"
8.Teresa Broadwell, "Travellin’ All Alone"
9.Ted Perry Trio, "Seven Valleys"
10.Stephanie Nakasian "Pent-Up House"
11.Lee Shaw Trio, "Sweet Baby"
12.Armen Donelian Trio, "Seasons‘ Change"
13.Advanced Phunk, "Wartbyrd Suite"
14.Vikki True & Richard Downs, "You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond"

$15 plus $3 shipping