The Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY, has hosted a world-class jazz festival since 1978. Invented by George Wein--an icon who invented the music festival, most famously the Newport Jazz Festival (though that only scratches the surface for his accomplishments)--it has had appearances by nearly every jazz legend. Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Dexter Gordan, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Count Basie, Jack DeJohnette, Ray Charles, Wayne Shorter and more.
No one played the festival more often than Dave Brubeck, who first appeared at the second edition in 1979 and last appeared in 2009--a total of 13 years. He was a close friend of Wein and close to the hearts of legions of music lovers around the globe. Brubeck died last December, one day shy of his 92nd birthday.
[Dave Brubeck Quartet plays the jazz festival in Saratoga in the 1980s. Chris Brubeck is on bass. © R.J. DeLuke]
A few years back, the people at SPAC started a Walk of Fame. Similar to the famous one in Hollywood, it immortalizes some of the important people in the facility's history with a star, emblazoned with the honoree's name, placed on one of the walkways at the performance venue. SPAC hosts all kinds of musical performances. It's first jazz honoree was Wein in 2011. And on Sunday, June 30, at Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, Brubeck will join that group.
The ceremony is scheduled for 4:40 p.m.
It will be held on a day when a couple other old-timers will be doin' it on the main SPAC stage--86-year-old crooner Tony Bennett and 76-year-old blues legend Buddy Guy. Brubeck was 89 when he last performed at the Saratoga festival.
Brubeck's career is truly legendary and he has been honored in numerous fashions over the years, thankfully. He actually last played in Saratoga in 2011, as a guest with the band Triple Play, led by his son, Chris Brubeck. He left to a roaring ovation. Wonderful, because it was to be his last public performance.
Brubeck logged so many miles, did so many gigs, won over people in so many countries, played so many notes. And he was special to SPAC and the audiences that faithfully flock to the event every year.
That star with that name will be special.
[Rumor has it Rudresh Mahanthappa, the wonderful musician who was named Jazz Journalists Association's Alto Saxophonist of the Year, will received his award from the association on Saturday, June 29, the day he will play two sets].