(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.) – The Saratoga Jazz Festival, one of the most celebrated and longest-running jazz events in the world, will celebrate its landmark 35th Anniversary at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), June 30 and July 1, 2012, with a dynamic lineup of more than 20 acclaimed artists and ensembles on two stages. Festival headliners include Diana Krall, Chris Botti, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Esperanza Spalding Radio Music Society, Hiromi Trio Project, Yellowjackets, and Maceo Parker. Other performers include Christian McBride, Michel Camilo, Mingus Big Band, Omar Hakim, Rachel Z, Arturo O’Farrill and Mario Abney.
Ticket sales for the Festival are on sale online now for SPAC members; online sales to the public begin March 12.
Located in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Saratoga Performing Arts Center has been the site of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival since 1978. With an inside seating capacity of 5,200, lawn seating of 20,000, world class jazz talent performing on two stages and an idyllic State Park setting located just three hours driving time from either Boston or New York City, the festival draws thousands of fans from across the Northeast and throughout North America.
“Over the past 35 years, more than half a million fans have experienced the extraordinary combination of music and atmosphere that has made the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival into one of the longest-running and most celebrated music events in the world,” said Marcia J. White, SPAC’s president and executive director. “Founded by jazz impresario George Wein in 1978, the festival has featured a ‘Who’s Who’ of jazz greats that includes Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Tito Puente, Sonny Rollins, Joshua Redman, Wynton Marsalis and dozens more. George had the vision to realize that if he built it, they would come. Thirty-five years later, his dream lives on; this festival remains a mecca for jazz and music lovers across the Northeast.”
“Encore Series at the Gazebo” will feature (with their respective, previous SPAC appearance): Jeremy Pelt Quintet (2004), Sachal Vasandani (2007), Trio of Oz featuring Omar Hakim & Rachel Z (2010), Pedrito Martinez Group (2011), Mario Abney & The Abney Effect (2010), Edmar Castaneda (2006), Sarah Morrow Elektric Air (2004), Catherine Russell (2006), Steve Kroon Sextet (2010), and Brian Mitchell Band (2011).
In addition to performances on SPAC’s Amphitheatre and Gazebo stages, the festival features a fine arts and crafts fair, CD signings by artists, a full-service bar in the Hall of Springs, southern style barbeque and other food vendors, and a children’s craft area. Guests may also bring in their own food and beverages, as well as blankets, tents and lawn umbrellas. Parking for the event is free.
2012 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival Headliners
Saturday, June 30, Starting at Noon
Trumpeter Chris Botti is the biggest-selling American jazz instrumental artist, with nearly three million albums sold worldwide. His success has crossed over to audiences usually reserved for pop music and his ongoing association with PBS has led to four #1 Jazz Albums, as well as multiple Gold, Platinum & Grammy Awards. This will be Botti’s fourth appearance at the festival. His last appearance was in 2008.
In 2007, the festival featured bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding on the Gazebo Stage, preceding her breakout, self-titled 2008 album/debut on Heads Up International. Since that time, Spalding has emerged as one of the brightest lights in the musical world. Releasing her best-selling 2010 album Chamber Music Society, listeners were well aware that the young musician from Portland, Oregon, is the real deal, with a unique and style-spanning presence, deeply rooted in jazz yet destined to make her mark far beyond the jazz realm. That judgment was confirmed on February 13, 2011, when Spalding became the first jazz musician to receive the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Spalding appears on the Amphitheatre Stage in 2012 with Radio Music Society (in support of her new album of the same name).
Saxophonist Maceo Parker’s name is widely considered synonymous with funk and his band, “the tightest little funk orchestra on earth.” Parker grew to become a linchpin of the James Brown enclave for the best part of two decades. His signature style helped define Brown’s brand of funk. Parker is still the most heavily sampled musician around simply because of the unique quality of his sound. Known for his powerful stage presence, Parker will perform Saturday night’s closing set. This marks his third festival appearance and first in 12 years.
Hailed as one of the “best jazz orchestras in the world” by the Washington Post, the Grammy Award-winning Mingus Big Band features 14 virtuoso members, celebrating the music of legendary composer/bassist Charles Mingus, who died in 1979. In 2011, the band won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard, the 10th Mingus Big Band recording, seven of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards. In 1978, on the first day of the first annual festival, George Wein presented a salute to Mingus, featuring a 24-piece big band directed by Paul Jeffrey. The ensemble included musicians such as saxophonist Michael Brecker, guitarist John Scofield and baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne, among others. The festival celebrated the 15th anniversary of this tribute in 1993 with another Mingus-themed program.
Pianist and composer Michel Camilo will make his fifth festival appearance, this time debuting Mano a Mano, a project comprised of master conguero Giovanni Hidalgo and bassist Charles Flores. The group released an eponymous album in 2011 that bridges the genres of jazz, classical, and Afro-Caribbean music. Camilo’s last festival performance was in 2001.
Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer, arranger, educator, curator and former creative chair for jazz at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Christian McBride is one of the most ubiquitous figures in jazz. He has performed and recorded with legends including McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis and Joshua Redman as well as with hip-hop, soul, pop and classical artists such as Sting, Questlove, and soprano Kathleen Battle. At this year’s festival, he will perform with his esteemed working ensemble Inside Straight. The group released its debut album, Kind of Brown, on Mack Avenue Records in 2009. McBride has since released two projects on the label: his Grammy Award winning big band project, The Good Feeling and Conversations with Christian. This will be his second festival appearance as a leader and fourth overall (he last appeared in 2003). McBride made his first appearance at the festival in 1991 with the young all-star group, Jazz Futures, featuring Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Carl Allen, Tim Warfield, Mark Whitfield and Benny Green.
With a sound that draws equally from the inspiration of Miles Davis and New Orleans second line brass band tradition, trumpeter Mario Abney is emerging as a major new voice in 21st century jazz. Abney and his band, The Abney Effect, are one of the most sought after jazz groups on New Orleans’s vibrant jazz scene. Abney has performed as a sideman and leader with everyone from Erykah Badu to Wynton Marsalis and has also been a musical guest on the acclaimed HBO dramatic series, Treme. Abney made his SPAC debut in 2010.
Sunday, July 1, Starting at Noon
Pianist and vocalist Diana Krall – known for her graceful contralto vocals – will make her fourth festival appearance. Krall’s success has been evident by her ability to top both pop and jazz charts, win Grammy Awards, play sold-out amphitheaters around the world and sell millions of records worldwide since her debut in 1993. In 2009, she released her 12th album, Quiet Nights (Verve), combining Brazilian and West Coast jazz styles as well as featuring three recordings of songs by bossa nova legend Antonio Carlos Jobim. She appears on Paul McCartney’s new album; on the Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International compilation; and is currently working on her next album. Krall made three consecutive appearances at the festival, from 1999-2001.
Called the “Jimi Hendrix of the Trombone” in a recent profile by Rhythms magazine, trombone/trumpet phenomenon Troy Trombone Shorty Andrews, along with his band Orleans Avenue, will make their SPAC debut by closing the festival on Sunday with their signature “Supafunkrock” sound — a combination of New Orleans funk, rock, R&B and hip-hop. The New Orleans born and bred musician has had a meteoric rise since the 2010 release of his Grammy nominated 2010 debut album, Backatown, and recently released follow up album, For True (released in September). He was invited to perform at the White House on February 21, 2012, as part of the Black History Month celebration.
Over the past nine years since her debut recording, Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi has created quite a buzz within the greater creative music community. Mentored by keyboard giants such as Ahmad Jamal and Chick Corea, and working with artists such as Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, she has a truly unique musical world-view and dynamic piano style. The diversity of her music runs the gamut of rock, jazz, and classical creating a truly cross-cultural experience. Hiromi appeared at Saratoga Jazz Festival in 2003 at the beginning of her career on the Gazebo Stage. She returns for her second appearance with seven albums to her name and critical acclaim, this time on the Amphitheatre Stage leading her Trio Project featuring renowned bassist Anthony Jackson and extraordinary drummer Simon Phillips (The Who, Toto, Jeff Beck).
Pianist, composer, educator and winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003, Arturo O’Farrill was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2002, O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for Jazz at Lincoln Center due in part to a large and very demanding body of music in the Latin and Afro Cuban genres that deserved to be much more widely appreciated and experienced by the general jazz audience. Now in residence at New York City’s Symphony Space and Birdland, O’Farrill and the orchestra are currently celebrating their 10th anniversary season. They have received one Grammy Award and two additional Grammy nominations (including one this year for their most recent project, 40 Acres and a Burro). O’Farrill and the Orchestra will make their festival debut.
Recently celebrating their 30th anniversary as a recording and touring group, the Grammy Award winning Yellowjackets will make their third SPAC appearance and first in 24 years. Known for their unique musical identity, the band’s sound is a blend of funk, fusion, and straight-ahead jazz. Comprised of longstanding keyboardist Russell Ferrante, saxophonist Bob Mintzer, and drummer Will Kennedy, the band recently announced that bassist Felix Pastorius, son of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, has been selected to fill in for cofounder Jimmy Haslip (who recently announced that he will take a yearlong hiatus). Their festival performance will be one of their first North American performances with Pastorius. Timeline, the band’s recent release and debut on Mack Avenue Records, received two nominations for the 54th annual Grammy Awards (marking the group’s 18th Grammy nomination overall).
Trio Of Oz featuring Omar Hakim & Rachel Z returns to the festival following their 2010 SPAC debut. Featuring world renowned drummer Hakim (who has performed with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Weather Report, Sting, and David Bowie) and pianist extraordinaire Rachel Z (whose work with such artists as Wayne Shorter, Steps Ahead, and Peter Gabriel has earned her international recognition and acclaim), the group has been recognized for its unique arrangements of jazz standards and chart topping Rock hits of the past 30 years.
Tickets for the festival begin at $55 for general admission adult. Children 12 and under are free on the lawn. Tickets are on sale online for SPAC members now; online sales for the public start on March 12.