SARATOGA SPRINGS – The 2019 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival features an extraordinary roster of twenty-two musical groups, highlighted by the SPAC Jazz Festival debut of Grammy® award winning artist Norah Jones, and the return of jazz legend George Benson and festival favorite Trombone Shorty + Orleans Avenue. Back by popular demand is also Los Van Van 50th Anniversary, Django Festival All-Stars with Edmar Castañeda and Grace Kelly, Joshua Redman Quartet, and James Carter Organ Trio. Fifteen emerging artists making their Saratoga debuts include Kandace Springs, Donna Grantis, Joey DeFrancesco Trio, Mercy Project which features Jon Cowherd, Brian Blade, John Patitucci, and Steve Cardenas, Antonio Sanchez + Migration, and Cha Wa. The festival will also feature a record number of groups led by women artists, highlighted by Allison Miller, Veronica Swift, Ruthie Foster and Youn Sun Nah.
Slated for Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, performances will begin on the Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage at noon and 11 am respectively. Performances on SPAC’s Amphitheater Stage will begin at 2 pm and 1 pm respectively.
“This year’s festival will excite long-time jazz lovers, while also continuing SPAC’s expanded vision to bring innovative artists and legends that have never before graced our stage, including a record number of female-led groups,” says Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “Devoted jazz festival fans and lovers of great music are in for a completely unique experience this summer, enhanced by the incredible atmosphere and unmatched beauty of our natural park setting.”
“I am ‘over the moon’ to have Norah Jones featured at the jazz festival for the first time. And we welcome back, with open arms and hearts, the legendary George Benson, who will make his 12th festival appearance and first since 2009,”says Danny Melnick, the festival producer and President of Absolutely Live Entertainment. “The festival has a deep history of, and is committed to, presenting important and diverse new artists and this year’s edition continues that tradition with Kandace Springs, Veronica Swift, Antonio Sanchez, Cha Wa, Donna Grantis, Youn Sun Nah and Kansas Smitty’s House Band.”
SPAC also announced that Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Friday, presented by Times Union, an annual collaboration with the City of Saratoga Springs to celebrate the rich history of jazz in the region, will return on Friday, June 28. 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.
While two-days and two-stages of live, world class jazz is the centerpiece of the weekend, fans can also enjoy a host of amenities including a fine arts and crafts fair, CD signings by artists, southern style barbeque and other food vendors. 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.
By popular demand, SPAC is also bringing back the $20 student and child amphitheater pass, available for children ages 15 and under and students with school-issued ID at time of entrance. Children ages 15 and under are free on the lawn. Full ticket information follows the schedule.
2019 FREIHOFER’S SARATOGA JAZZ FESTIVAL LINE-UP:
SATURDAY, JUNE 29
Legendary guitarist and ten-time Grammy® Award winner George Benson will return for his first Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival performance in a decade, marking his twelfth appearance at the festival. Benson, who played the first three festivals, began his professional career at 21 and first came to prominence in the 1960s playing soul jazz, working with legends like Lonnie Smith, Ronnie Cuber, and Miles Davis. He became a crossover pop sensation in 1976 with the release of Breezin’, which won the Grammy® Award for Record of the Year and has since become certified triple-platinum. Benson has released 36 studio albums in a career that spans five decades.
Los Van Van 50th Anniversary
Making its first appearance in nearly two decades, Grammy® Award winner Los Van Van is one of the most influential bands in the history of 20th century Cuban pop music. Named after the go-go fad, Los Van Van is credited with the creation of a popular genre of Cuban music called songo – a rhythmic and supremely danceable style of music.
Making her SPAC debut and best known for her graceful, smoky voice and an intensely expressive mastery over the piano, Kandace Springs has emerged as a refreshing assimilation of multiple classic musical styles including R&B, jazz, and pop, and transforms those influences into a unique, personalized sound.
James Carter Organ Trio
Just as comfortable in furious, high-velocity solos as to wax sentimental – bruising, yet tender saxophone player James Carter has reinvented the organ combo, explored the music of alt-rock band Pavement, underwent a creative rendezvous with composer Roberto Sierra, and most recently reconfigured the saxophone into a keen array of electronics with James Carter’s Elektrick Outlet.
Pianist, composer, arranger, and producer Jon Cowherd will perform his debut album as a leader with the Mercy Project, which includes Brian Blade, John Patitucci, and Steve Cardenas. Sonically, Cowherd’s touch on the keyboard is deft bluesy, and engaging, and his scope as a composer is expansive. Regarding The Mercy Project, Cowherd has written that he “felt the need to make a statement under my own name.” Mercy has garnered rave reviews and a swell of enthusiasm sustaining the project years after its release.
Known for her extraordinary technique and soulful playing, Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis leads a five-piece group that is wholly unique in today’s music scene. Set to release her much anticipated debut album in 2019, Grantis is best known for performing with Prince in his groups 3RDEYEGIRL and New Power Generation. As co-lead guitarist in Prince’s most rock heavy band (3RDEYEGIRL), Grantis was named one of fifty sensational female guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine. Backed by an acclaimed rhythm section, Grantis will make her festival debut on Saturday, June 29.
Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:
Antonio Sánchez + Migration
Mexican-American jazz drummer and composer Antonio Sánchez has worked with such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, and Pat Metheny, and played drums on the Grammy® Award winning Pat Metheny Group album Speaking of Now. Sánchez also solidified his reputation as a composer with his score for Birdman, which earned him nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and other nominations – winning the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Score and Satellite Award for Best Original Score.
Black Art Jazz Collective
Born during an important period of Black identity in the arts in the early 2010s, Black Art Jazz Collective brings together an accomplished ensemble of young African American musicians – co-founded by drummer Johnathan Blake, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt – who felt that it was necessary to celebrate Black culture in a positive way. Black Art Jazz Collective, making its festival debut as a collaboration, will also feature trombonist James Burton III, jazz pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Carl Allen.
Lionel Loueke + Raul Midón
Originally from the small West African nation of Benin, guitarist Lionel Loueke has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past ten years. In 2008 and 2009, Lionel Loueke was picked as top Rising Star guitarist in DownBeat magazine’s annual Critics Poll. Praised by his mentor Herbie Hancock as “a musical painter,” Lionel Loueke combines harmonic sophistication, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African music, and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a warm and evocative sound of his own. Loueke has released numerous albums under several labels, including the storied Blue Note Label, to critical acclaim, and appeared on Herbie Hancock’s Grammy®-winning River: The Joni Letters.
Along with releasing 10 studio albums as a solo artist, Raul Midón – said to be “a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus” by The New York Times – has collaborated with legends such as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers, along with contributions to recordings by Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg and the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s She Hate Me.
Veronica Swift with The Emmet Cohen Trio
At age 24, Veronica Swift is recognized around the country as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene. In the fall of 2015, she won second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. In 2016, she performed at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City and was a guest artist with Michael Feinstein at Jazz at Lincoln Center with the Tedd Firth Big Band, Marilyn Maye, and Freda Payne. Veronica’s first appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center was at age 11 when she performed at the “Women in Jazz” series at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Veronica Swift will make her festival debut with The Emmet Cohen Trio, comprised of three of jazz’s biggest rising stars and emerging leaders: pianist Emmet Cohen, drummer Kyle Poole, and bassist Russell Hall.
Joe Locke’s Subtle Disguise with special guest Raul Midón
Joe Locke, making his festival debut, is widely considered to be one of the major voices of the vibraphone. Locke is a five-time recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association’s “Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year” Award, has received two Earshot Golden Ear Awards for “Concert of the Year,” and the 2013 Hot House NYC Jazz Awards for Best Vibes Player. In 2016, Joe was honored with the induction into the Music Hall of Fame of his hometown in Rochester, NY. Locke will be joined by Grammy® nominated American singer-songwriter and guitarist from New Mexico, Raul Midón.
SUNDAY, JUNE 30
Trombone Shorty + Orleans Avenue
Part Jimi Hendrix, part James Brown and all New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is the bandleader and front-man of Trombone Shorty + Orleans Avenue. He has gained international acclaim for his trombone and trumpet virtuosity, his songwriting and his ability to blend traditional New Orleans styles with rock, funk, soul and hip-hop. NPR hailed him as “New Orleans’ brightest new star in a generation” and his recent 2017 album, “Parking Lot Symphony,” was released on the legendary Blue Note label.
A 2011 Grammy® Award nominee for his album “Backatown” (Verve), Andrews’ virtuosity and high-energy live shows have drawn unanimous raves worldwide with Rolling Stone calling him a “must-see act.”
Singer, songwriter, and pianist Norah Jones has won a litany of awards throughout her nearly twenty-year career. She’s sold more than 50 million records worldwide, and was named the top jazz artist of the 2000-2009 decade by Billboard. She has won nine Grammy® Awards, including five for her 2002 solo debut, Away with Me, and was ranked 60th on Billboard magazine’s artists of the 2000–2009 decade chart. Altogether, Jones has released six critically acclaimed solo albums, including her most recent project that features luminaries Wayne Shorter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Brian Blade. Jones will make her festival debut on Sunday, June 30.
Django Festival All-Stars with special guests Edmar Castañeda + Grace Kelly
Django Festival All-Stars bring the music of the legendary Gypsy Jazz Guitarist Django Reinhardt fully into the 21st century. Their unique, high energy performances pay tribute to Reinhardt who is considered one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Reinhardt’s driving, swinging style became known as ‘hot jazz’ and it continues to grow in popularity throughout the world, in great part to the success of Django Festival All-Stars, who honor the traditions of this ‘gypsy jazz’ adding their own interpretations, arrangements and original compositions with stunning virtuosity. Django Festival All-Stars return to the festival for their second appearance alongside Columbian harpist Edmar Castañeda and award-winning singer, saxophonist, and songwriter Grace Kelly.
Joshua Redman Quartet with Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers, + Gregory Hutchinson
Joshua Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artists to have emerged in the 1990s. Two years after winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, Redman released his debut album, which earned him his first Grammy® nomination. Over a series of celebrated recordings, Redman also established himself as one of jazz music’s most consistent and successful bandleaders, and added soprano and alto saxophones to his instrumental arsenal. A few years later, Redman created the fusion oriented Elastic Band, and was once again nominated for a Grammy®. Redman has played with such greats as Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, The Dave Matthews Band, Yo Yo Ma, Big Daddy Kane, and Quincy Jones, to name a few.
Joey DeFrancesco Trio featuring Billy Hart
Raised in Philadelphia, Joey DeFrancesco’s music embodies the traditions of the jazz and blues that were the foundation of his upbringing, yet infuses a distinct modern approach. His emergence in the 1980s marked the onset of a musical renaissance, reigniting organ jazz with his vintage Hammond organ and Leslie speaker cabinet. The four-time Grammy® Award-nominee has received countless Jazz Journalist Association awards and other accolades worldwide, including being inducted into the inaugural Hammond Organ Hall of Fame in 2014, the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame in 2016 as well as topping the Critics Polls in DownBeat Magazine eleven times over the past fifteen years. DeFrancesco will make his festival debut as a leader in a performance featuring legendary drummer Billy Hart.
Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:
Allison Miller Boom Tic Boom featuring Jenny Scheinman, Carmen Staaf, Kirk Knuffke, Ben Goldberg and Todd Sickafoose
A powerhouse drummer with an unerring sense of swing and a moving melodicism, an inventive composer with a gift for memorable tunes that leave ample space for bright improvisations, and a bandleader who ably marries these pieces with the right collaborators to breathe life into them, Allison Miller Boom Tic Boom will feature music from their newly released album, Glitter Wolf. Allison Miller makes her festival debut alongside jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, pianist Carmen Staaf, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, clarinetist Ben Goldberg and bassist Todd Sickafoose.
Joel Harrison’s Angel Band featuring Jon Cowherd, Jaleel Shaw, Stephan Crump and Brian Blade
Joel Harrison is one of the first artists to have bridged the worlds of jazz, classical, Americana, and traditions from India and Africa. Born in Washington D.C. the guitarist, composer, arranger, lyricist, vocalist, and songwriter began his search for new sounds in the early 1980’s with stints in Boston and the Bay Area. Named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2010, Harrison has long been recognized as a risk taker, and his most recent album, Angel Band, is no different. The third in a series of three Free Country projects, Angel Band sees Harrison arrange country and Appalachian music for a jazz group in new and unusual ways. Harrison will make his festival debut with pianist Jon Cowherd, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Brian Blade.
From the funk-laced beats and bass-heavy sousaphone blasts to the gritty warmth of singer J’Wan Boudreaux’s voice, Cha Wa is a New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians band that is garnering national acclaim. Cha Wa will make its festival debut following its recent Grammy® nomination for Spyboy in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category.
Described by Rolling Stone as “pure magic to watch and hear,” boasting seven Blues Music Awards and three Grammy® nominations, Ruthie Foster’s vocal talent was elevated in worship services at her community church. Drawing influence from legendary acts like Mavis Staples and Aretha Franklin, Foster developed a unique sound unable to be contained within a single genre. Foster will make her festival debut on the “jazz discovery” stage.
Youn Sun Nah
Youn Sun Nah’s voice and personality have impacted and touched hearts all over the globe, and from 2009-2015 she’s received many distinctions from her peers and also appeared at the 2014 Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony. In 2001, she released her debut album, and followed it up with Light for the People, which was her first to receive widespread distribution. She’s since signed with German label ACT and released 7 studio albums.
Kansas Smitty’s House Band
From the moment they played their first note six years ago, the Kansas Smitty’s House Band has set out to reinvent how audiences experience jazz. The House Band is a tight-knit outfit that makes jazz inclusive with an emphasis on camaraderie, spontaneity, and joy. 2018 was a landmark year, with members of the House Band appearing at the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican, Friday Night is Music Night and The Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Centre at the request of Wynton Marsalis. The core members are Saratoga Springs native Giacomo Smith (alto saxophone, clarinet); Pete Horsfall (trumpet and vocals); Adrian Cox (clarinet); Joe Webb (piano); David Archer (guitar); Ferg Ireland (double bass) and Will Cleasby (drums).
Tickets for the festival will be available online at www.spac.org beginning February 15 at 10 am to the general public and starting on February 4 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 time of entrance. Seating is best available with some exclusions. Lawn seating is free for children ages 15 and under.