If you are a Jazz enthusiast and want a weekend of fun June 27th and 28th, then come on down to the Saratoga Jazz Festival for their 43rd annual performance. This Festival always has a mix of internationally renowned artists, among some of the guests this year headlining the show will be Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Nile Rodgers with his band Chic, Kool & The Gang and guitarist Taj Mahal.
This year’s total lineup will present 24 acts, with 16 festival debuts, including some new and upcoming musicians such as the Gullah-inspired quintet Ranky Tanky, and 18-year-old, blind jazz piano virtuoso Matthew Whitaker.
There will be one huge harmonious weekend party celebrating everything from funk to soul, blues to R&B, classic jazz, roots and Latin, as per Elizabeth Sobol, CEO of SPAC, tells saratoga living. “
NILE RODGERS & CHIC, KOOL & THE GANG, CASSANDRA WILSON, TAJ MAHAL,
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS OF DAVE BRUBECK & CHARLIE PARKER, ELIANE ELIAS, ISSAC DELGADO & HIS AFRO-CUBAN BIG BAND, KURT ELLING & DANILO PEREZ DUO
Headline the Two-Day Event Presenting 24 Groups, Including 16 Festival Debuts
Festival Debuts by RANKY TANKY, OZMOSYS, AMINA FIGAROVA, CONNIE HAN TRIO, EMMALINE, MATTHEW WHITAKER, TIEMPO LIBRE, CAROLYN WONDERLAND, RYAN KEBERLE & CATHARSIS; Local Artists include CHUCK LAMB with the BRUBECK BROTHERS; JORGE GOMEZ with TIEMPO LIBRE, and GARLAND NELSON leading JOYFUL NOISE, presented by Caffé Lena
FREIHOFER’S JAZZ FEST FRIDAY, PRESENTED BY TIMES UNION TO KICK-OFF WEEKEND WITH LOCAL MUSICIANS AND JAZZ-THEMED EVENTS IN SARATOGA SPRINGS, FRI, JUNE 26, 2020
(Saratoga Springs, NY), January 27, 2020 — The 2020 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival features a remarkable roster of twenty-four musical groups, highlighted by multiple Grammy® Award winners and current 2020 Grammy-nominated artists, hosting a rich array of talent encompassing generations of musical heritage, stellar newcomer status and star-studded notoriety. With sixteen exciting Festival debut performances including Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Kool & The Gang, Ranky Tanky and Tiempo Libre – Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival is poised to be a must-stop destination on the 2020 festival trail, touting two days of top-notch concerts ranging from jazz to roots, funk, blues and beyond.
Slated for Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, performances will begin each day on the Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage at 11 a.m. Performances on SPAC’s Amphitheater Stage will begin at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday and at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday.
“This June we will bring together funk, soul, R&B and classic jazz for a two-day party, unlike anything this iconic festival has ever seen. Our headliners Nile Rodgers & CHIC and Kool & The Gang of hit song ‘Celebration’ will create an irresistible atmosphere,” says Elizabeth Sobol, President, and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
“The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Celebrate’/’Good Times’,” says Danny Melnick, the festival producer and President of Absolutely Live Entertainment.“Nile Rodgers & CHIC and Kool & The Gang are gonna’ ‘rock the house’ and, as always, the festival will present diverse and emerging artists such as Ranky Tanky, Matthew Whitaker, Amina Figarova, Carolyn Wonderland, Ryan Keberle, Connie Han, and Emmaline along with honoring the centennials of two jazz legends, Dave Brubeck and Charlie Parker.”
SPAC also announced that Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Friday, presented by Times Union, will return on Friday, June 26 for the third annual collaboration with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the rich history of jazz in the region. Once again the event will feature Chamber businesses welcoming locals and visitors with scores of live jazz events themed dining, and social dance options that will serve as the kick-off to the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs.
In addition to two non-stop days of great music on two stages, fans can also enjoy a host of amenities including fine arts and crafts fair, artist CD signings, southern-style barbeque and other food vendors at SPAC’s newly renovated concession area. Guests are welcome to bring in their own food and beverages, as well as blankets, tents and lawn umbrellas. Parking for the event is free.
SPAC is offering a $20 student and child amphitheater pass, available for children ages 15 and under and students with school-issued ID at the time of entrance. Children ages 15 and under are admitted free on the lawn.
2020 FREIHOFER’S SARATOGA JAZZ FESTIVAL LINE-UP:
SATURDAY, JUNE 27
Nile Rodgers & CHIC*
A music legend, Nile Rodgers amplifies his legacy as a multiple Grammy® Award-winning composer, producer, arranger and guitarist by constantly traversing new musical terrain and successfully expanding the boundaries of popular music. As the co-founder of CHIC and the newly elected Chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rodgers pioneered a musical language that generated chart-topping hits like “Le Freak,” and sparked the advent of hip-hop with “Good Times.” Nile Rodgers transcends all styles of music across every generation with a body of work that’s garnered him inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2017) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (2016). A typical CHIC set includes mega-hits written, co-written and/or produced by Nile Rodgers, including “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk), “Like A Virgin” (Madonna), “We Are Family” (Sister Sledge), “Let’s Dance” (David Bowie), “Upside Down” (Diana Ross) and many others.
Returning to SPAC is Cassandra Wilson, an American jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer from Jackson, Mississippi. Named America’s Best Singer by Time Magazine, she has been described as “Soulful, sensual and lyrical, she’s carrying on the tradition of great jazz vocalists.” A two-time Grammy® Award-winning artist and DownBeat Magazine’s “Jazz Vocalist of the Year” for three consecutive years, Wilson is considered by many to be one of the most talented jazz singers alive today. Wilson has also performed one of the leading roles in Wynton Marsalis’ Blood on the Fields, the first jazz work to receive a Pulitzer Prize.
Issac Delgado & His Afro-Cuban Big Band*
Issac Delgado is an award-winning composer, vocalist, and performer who has played an essential role in the evolution of Cuban music as it is known today. Born in Havana in 1962, he helped to further both the salsa and timba genres, starting his career as a group member of several prominent Cuban bands. He went on to establish himself as a solo artist and leader of a number of talented musical groups throughout his career, all laced with his unique creative sensibility. Having recently returned to Cuba after ten years abroad, in 2019 he released Lluvia Y Fuego, the highly anticipated 17th album of the treasured “El Chevere De La Salsa.”
Ozmosys featuring Omar Hakim, Rachel Z, Linley Marthe & Kurt Rosenwinkel*
Drummer Omar Hakim, pianist Rachel Z, bassist Linley Marthe, and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel each have significant contributions to jazz and make up the super-group Ozmosys. Whether with Weather Report, Miles Davis, Kate Bush, Madonna, Daft Punk or David Bowie, Omar Hakim is one of the most versatile, dynamic and grooving drummers in the world. Rachel Z first became known with Steps Ahead, subsequently was a major contributor to Wayne Shorter’s High Life album, has toured the world with Peter Gabriel and has released over a dozen albums as a leader. Linley Marthe last played Saratoga with the groundbreaking Joe Zawinul Syndicate and Kurt Rosenwinkel and is known for redefining the jazz guitar to become one of the primary jazz influencers in the 21st century. Together they create music drawing from all these experiences but, as the album title states, with their Eyes to the Future.
Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100 featuring Rudresh Mahanthappa, Terri Lyne Carrington, Charenée Wade, Adam O’Farrill, Kris Davis, Larry Grenadier & Kassa Overall*
Acclaimed co-musical directors Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto saxophone) and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums) celebrate jazz master Charlie Parker (born August 29, 1920) – one of the most innovative and influential artists in modern musical history – and examine his impact in pop, hip-hop, rap, rock, and jazz. Joined by a superb lineup including Charenée Wade (vocals), Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Kris Davis (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass) and Kassa Overall (DJ), Mahanthappa and Carrington will honor Charlie Parker’s centennial year by showcasing “Bird’s” uncompromising musical joy, humor, and beauty by mining his deep repertoire and showcasing new, modern compositions.
Amina Figarova Sextet plus Strings*
Hailing from Azerbaijan, the New York-based Amina Figarova is an internationally influenced—and recognized—composer, pianist, and bandleader. The Amina Figarova Sextet has been a hit at major festivals like the Newport Jazz Festival and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Amina and her “Amina Figarova Sextet Plus” is a grantee of the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works which supports the creation of new works by professional U.S.-based composer-led jazz ensembles and helps assure that these compositions will be heard through live performances and recordings.
Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:
Matt Wilson’s Honey & Salt with Dawn Thomson, Nadje Noordhuis, Jeff Lederer & Martin Wind
The New York-based drummer Matt Wilson combines buoyant zeal, idiosyncratic style, infectious humor, joyous swing and an indomitable spirit of surprise. Wilson has released thirteen albums as a leader. His latest recording, Honey And Salt (Music Inspired By The Poetry Of Carl Sandburg), was recognized on over thirty worldwide “Best of 2017” lists, including Top Ten in the NPR Critics Poll, JazzTimes, Irish Times, Boston Globe, Jazziz and All About Jazz. The album received a coveted 5-star review (masterpiece) in DownBeat.
Javon Jackson Quartet featuring Jimmy Cobb
Tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson came into international prominence touring and recording with the legendary drummer Art Blakey as a member of his band the Jazz Messengers. Symbolizing a new generation of musicians that blend tradition with neo-jazz, Jackson went on to release 14 recordings as a bandleader and tour and record over 135 CDs with jazz greats including Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Donald Byrd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Richard Davis, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller, JoAnne Brackeen, Stanley Turrentine, and Ben E. King. Javon currently serves as the Director of the Jackie McLean Institute at the University of Hartford.
NEA Jazz Master and drum legend, Jimmy Cobb, is the last surviving member of the 1959 jazz masterpiece Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. Born 91 years ago this week (January 20, 1929), Cobb’s personal history is jazz history – he has played with virtually every major jazz artist over his 75-year career, including Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and countless others. In 2009, Cobb celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue, touring the world with an all-star band that included Javon Jackson, and a performance at the festival that summer.
Little Freddie King*
Born in McComb, Mississippi in 1940, Fread E. Martin grew up playing alongside his blues guitar-picking father (Jessie James Martin). Honing his guitar chops at notorious joints like the Bucket of Blood (which he later immortalized in song), he jammed and gigged with Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker, and also played bass for Freddy King during one of the guitarist’s stints in New Orleans. While well-vested in a variety of styles, nowadays Little Freddie sounds a lot more like his legendary cousin Lightin’ Hopkins. Known as the “monarch of the Crescent City Blues” scene, Little Freddie King has established himself as one of the most in-demand blues guitarists and vocalists in and beyond New Orleans. In July 2019, he received the Jus’ Blues Albert King Lifetime Blues Award.
Connie Han Trio*
The 23-year-old pianist and provocateur Connie Han has created an edgy blend of modern and traditional jazz with her incendiary Mack Avenue Records debut. According to Downbeat, Han has “already absorbed the post-bop piano masters” with “all the technical mastery she’ll ever need.” The New York Times describes her as “the rare musician with fearsome technical chops, a breadth of historical knowledge and enough originality to write tunes that absorb your ear easily.” Weaving in and out of the tradition, Han pays tribute to McCoy Tyner, Mulgrew Miller, and Kenny Kirkland with her own unique edge and fire at the piano. In 2019, Han became a Steinway Artist, joining an exquisite circle of renowned artists such as McCoy Tyner, Art Tatum, Kenny Barron, and Duke Ellington.
Emmaline is a 21-year-old singer and songwriter possessing a smoky, jazz-infused, genre-fluid voice. Admired as much for the range of traditional sounds she draws upon, as for her startling freshness, her songs are bold in statement and soft in feel, her flow supple and precise. She prides herself in being one who has listened with deep intention to her heroes—Anita O’Day and Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo—and has already learned to rise above questions of category with a healthy sense of musical identity and forethought.
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
Kool & The Gang*
Legendary band Kool & The Gang has won two Grammy® Awards, seven American Music Awards and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The group’s discography includes 23 studio albums and almost 70 singles. They have sold 7.5 million albums and 4.5 million singles, respectively, in the US and have sold over 70 million albums globally. Their biggest hits include “Celebration,” “Cherish,” “Joanna,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Too Hot,” “Hollywood Swinging,” “Ladies Night” and “Fresh.”
If anyone knows where to find the blues, it’s guitarist Taj Mahal. A brilliant artist with a musicologist’s mind, he has pursued and elevated the roots of beloved sounds with boundless devotion and skill. Tracing origins to the American South, the Caribbean, Africa, and elsewhere, he has created entirely new sounds, over and over again. As a result, he’s not only a god to rock-and-roll icons such as Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones but also a hero to ambitious artists who are determined to combine sounds that have heretofore been ostracized from one another. A 2017 Grammy® Award win for “TajMo,” his collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his tally to three wins and 14 nominations, and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, and other honors punctuate his résumé.
The Brubeck Brothers Celebrate Dave Brubeck’s Centennial with Mike DeMicco & Chuck Lamb
Chris and Dan Brubeck have been making music together practically all their lives. Drummer Dan and bassist, trombonist, and composer Chris cut their first record together in 1966—nearly a half-century ago. They’ve subsequently played a variety of styles in a number of different groups, as well as with their father, jazz giant Dave Brubeck, and with their own Brubeck Brothers Quartet. With Dan and Chris as the foundation, guitarist Mike DeMicco, and pianist Chuck Lamb, complete this dynamic quartet. They perform at concert series, colleges, and jazz festivals across North America and Europe including the Newport, Detroit, Montreal, Playboy/Hollywood Bowl, and Monterey Jazz Festivals. The Quartet’s last CD, LifeTimes was a hit on the Jazz Week radio chart where it made the Top Ten list as one of the most played jazz recordings of the year.
Over the course of a distinguished career spanning nearly 30 albums, multi-Grammy® Award-winning pianist/singer/composer Eliane Elias’ distinctive musical style has emerged as one of the most unique and immediately recognizable sounds in jazz. With over 2.2 million albums sold to date, Elias blends her Brazilian roots and alluring voice with her virtuosic instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills, while she consistently displays her pianistic mastery and ability to integrate the many artistic roles she takes on. Elias’ most recent recording, Love Stories, is an orchestral, all-English album released on Concord Jazz. “I am very proud of this production and feel it’s one of the most romantic sets of music I’ve ever produced,” she says of the project, which she recorded in Brazil and at London’s Abbey Road Studios.
At the age of nine, Matthew Whitaker began teaching himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ. Four years later, he became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond in its 80+ year history. He was also named a Yamaha Artist at 15, becoming the youngest musician to join that stellar roster of jazz pianists. He has performed on world-renowned stages such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and many more. In 2010, Matthew was a winning participant in the “Child Stars of Tomorrow” competition, as part of Amateur Night at the Apollo. A year later, at just 10 years old, he was invited to perform at Stevie Wonder’s induction into the Apollo Theater’s Hall of Fame. Matthew has been on national and international radio and television, which includes the TODAY documentary series “Boys Changing The World,” Harry Connick Jr Show, and an appearance on the syndicated TV talk show Ellen. He is currently enrolled in the Jazz Studies program at The Juilliard School and at 18 has just released his 2nd album, Now Hear This, to public and critical acclaim.
Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:
Kurt Elling & Danilo Perez Duo*
Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, Grammy® Award winner Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. Declared “the standout male vocalist of our time” by The New York Times, Elling has garnered unprecedented accolades, including a fourteen-year run atop the DownBeat Critics Poll, a dozen Grammy® Award nominations, and eight Jazz Journalists Association awards for “Male Singer of the Year.”
As a solo artist and as a collaborator with jazz giants from Dizzy Gillespie to Wayne Shorter, for over three decades Grammy® Award-winning Panamanian pianist-composer Danilo Pérez has been lauded as one of the most creative forces in contemporary music. With jazz as the anchoring foundation, Pérez’s Global Jazz music is a blend of Panamanian roots, Latin American folk music, West African rhythms, European impressionism – promoting music as a borderless and multidimensional bridge between all people.
This Grammy® Award-nominated, Charleston, SC-based quintet, performs timeless music born from the Gullah culture of the southeastern Sea Islands. Their debut album was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and the TODAY show. Ranky Tanky also soared to the #1 position on the Billboard, Amazon, and iTunes Jazz Charts. Playful game songs, ecstatic shouts, and heartbreaking spirituals can all be found on their latest release Good Time, which also offers the group’s first original songs inspired by Gullah tradition. Ranky Tanky has been nominated for a 2020 Grammy® Award for Good Time in the “Best Regional Roots Music Album” category.
Three-time Grammy® Award-nominated Afro-Caribbean music group Tiempo Libre is equally at home in concert halls, jazz clubs, festival stages and dance venues and celebrated for its sophisticated tropical music featuring an irresistible, exhilarating mix of jazz harmonies, contemporary sonorities, and seductive Latin rhythms. Throughout the past 14 years, the band has appeared around the globe and has been featured on television shows including The Tonight Show, Live from Lincoln Center, and Dancing with the Stars as well as on entertainment programs on Univision and Telemundo. Since the group’s formation in Miami in 2001, its members have been on a mission to share their Afro-Caribbean heritage with a wide audience, reinterpreting and reinvigorating music born from the meeting of their musical origins with their new American experience.
A musical force equipped with the soulful vocals of Janis Joplin and the guitar slinging skills of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carolyn Wonderland reaches into the depths of the Texas blues tradition with the wit of a poet. She hits the stage with an unmatched presence, a true legend in her time. She’d grown up as the child of a singer in a band and began playing her mother’s vintage Martin guitar when other girls were dressing dolls. She’s gone from being the teenage toast of her hometown Houston to sleeping in her van in Austin amid heaps of critical acclaim for fine recordings. Along with the guitar and the multitude of other instruments she’s learned to play – trumpet, accordion, piano, mandolin, lap steel – Wonderland’s ability to whistle, a vocal art seldom invoked in modern music, remains most unusual.
Ryan Keberle & Catharsis featuring Camila Meza, Scott Robinson, Jorge Roeder & Eric Doob*
Having performed and collaborated with the Maria Schneider Orchestra, David Bowie, Sufjan Stevens, Ivan Lins, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Wynton Marsalis, and the Saturday Night Live house band, trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle brings these experiences to bear leading his own band, Catharsis, which has released four acclaimed studio albums. Their new full-length album, The Hope I Hold, is an album full of welcome firsts. The first Catharsis release to feature the genius multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson on saxophone, alongside band veterans Jorge Roeder on bass and Eric Doob on drums, it also marks the debut of Chilean artist Camila Meza as the group’s guitarist, adding to her role as vocalist. The album underscores Keberle’s evolving roles as well and features him not only on trombone but on vocals and keyboards. But perhaps the most important unfolding on The Hope I Hold relates to the album’s theme of optimism in the face of political and cultural corruption.
Caffé Lena Presents Joyful Noise*
Joyful Noise is a spirit-lifting ensemble of musicians and singers led by “soulist” Garland Nelson and musical director Azzaam Hameed. The inspirational Joyful Noise Choir is made up of the blended voices of powerful, step-out soloists accompanied by a driving rhythm section creating a sound that will enter your being like a breath of pure, fresh air.
*Indicates Festival debut for that project
ABOUT FREIHOFER’S SARATOGA JAZZ FESTIVAL:
Founded in 1978 by jazz impresario George Wein, Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival is the fifth longest-consecutive-running jazz festival in North America. Initially founded as “the Newport Jazz Festival at Saratoga” the weekend event was renamed Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival in 1998. With an inside seating capacity of 5,200 and lawn seating of 20,000, the two-day, two-stage festival continues to be one of the largest jazz music events in North America, beloved by audiences for both the remarkable annual line-up of international jazz talent and the spectacular setting at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the idyllic Saratoga Spa State Park.
More information about what to bring to the Jazz Festival can be found online at www.spac.org.
Tickets for the festival will be available online at www.spac.org beginning February 11 at 10 am to the general public and starting on January 29 at 10 am to SPAC members. $20 amphitheater ticket options are available for children ages 15 and under and students with school-issued ID at the time of entrance. Seating is best available with some exclusions. Lawn seating is free for children ages 15