Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Freihofer Jazz Fest in Saratoga Springs is HERE

The annual event -- two days of jazz bliss -- was started in 1978 by legendary impresario George Wein. The greatest names in jazz have performed at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center over the years, and many who are “stars” now appeared here as up-and-coming talent.

It's this Saturday and Sunday (June 26-27), starting at noon each day.

Miles, Sonny, Ella, Basie, Dexter, Getz, Dizzy, Sarah, Carmen, Weather Report, Herbie, Chick ... on and on and on -- have graced the stage. Stages, really, as the event has one main amphitheater stage and a small gazebo stage, both hosting superb bands.

[Photo, by me, is Terrence Blanchard's band in 2008]

It has been called Newport Jazz Festival - Saratoga, Kool Jazz Festival and JVC, but for years now, the Freihofer Baking Co. has been the main sponsor. Bless them!! And while George Wein sold the event a few years back, it went to the capable hands of Danny Melnick of Absolutely Live Entertainment, who has been a fine caretaker for the last few years.

Don't let rain disuade you. bring stuff for passing showers if they even come. Usually, they don't. And bring a cooler with all your needs (no glass containers) even beer or other adult pleasures.

This year’s event doesn’t have huge “big name” hooks, other than the stellar pianist Ahmad Jamal. But there is talent a plenty. I’m particularly looking forward to Kendrick Scott’s Oracle band, saxophonist JD Allen, Jamal, Al DiMeola, bluesman Taj Mahal and trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, as well as a first look at young trumpeter Mario Abney. There’s more .. The lineup is below, but those starting times are sometimes subject to change during the daytime hours.

Saturday – June 26th
Main Stage
* Noon – Mario Abney Quintet
* 1:20pm – Evan Christopher New Orleans Clarinet Virtuoso
* 2:40pm – Legendary blues musician Taj Mahal
* 4:10pm – Pianist Ahmad Jamal
* 5:35pm – Al DiMeola’s World Sinfonia Group
* 7:10pm – Festival favorites Al Jarreau & The George Duke Trio
* 9:00pm – Sax For Stax featuring Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum
Gazebo Stage
* 12:15pm – JD Allen Trio
* 1:35pm – Tomasz Stanko Quartet Polish Jazz Legend
* 2:55pm – Alyssa Graham
* 4:20pm – Steve Kroon Sextet
* 5:40pm – Mario Abney Quintet

Sunday – June 27th
Main Stage
* Noon – Trio of OZ featuring pianist Rachel Z and Omar Hakim
* 1:20pm – Vibraphonist Stefon Harris with Blackout
* 2:40pm – Ann Hampton Callaway
* 4:10pm – The Ramsey Lewis Trio
* 5:50pm – Juan De Marcos & the Afro Cuban All Stars
* 7:40pm – Gladys Knight “The Empress of Soul”
Gazebo Stage
* 12:15pm – Hailey Niswanger Berklee College of Music alto sax phenom
* 1:35pm – Kendrick Scott Oracle
* 2:55pm – Linda Oh Trio
* 4:15pm – Trio of OZ featuring pianist Rachel Z and Omar Hakim
* 5:35pm – Ralph Lalama Quartet

Indoor amphitheater seats may be scare at this juncture, but single-day tickets are:
* Saturday Amphitheater: Adult $65, Child (12 & under) $55
* Sunday Amphitheater: Adult $58, Child (12 & under) $51
* Lawn: Adult $44, Child (12 & under) $5

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