Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

All That Jazz: Friehofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center

By  0 Comments

It is once again time for Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, and what a treat is in store for attendees this year.

The 2018 lineup includes such acclaimed talent as National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master Herbie Hancock, Jon Batiste, Chris Botti, Gregory Porter, Joey Alexander and gospel and R&B legend Mavis Staples, and emerging artists making their Saratoga debuts such as José James, Lakecia Benjamin and SoulSquad, Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band, Jazzmeia Horn and Keyon Harrold. In addition, unique collaborations and ensembles never before seen at the festival will take center stage including the Saratoga debut by TEN, which features Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding and Nicholas Payton.

Annual Excitement
“We start working on the festival the day after the last one ends and we’re just as excited as the audience is to experience it ‘live.’ We are always looking to improve the experience for the artists and the listeners and the new performance schedule should be a win-win,” said Danny Melnick, the festival producer and president of Absolutely Live Entertainment. “Once people discover this festival, they’re hooked. It becomes a destination they look forward to all year long.”

In another first, SPAC also announced the addition of Saratoga Jazz Fest Friday, a new initiative in collaboration with the city of Saratoga Springs that will bring together local musicians performing in venues across Saratoga Springs to celebrate the rich history of jazz in the region. Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of SPAC, added, “Many of our dedicated jazz fans don’t realize that Saratoga has a vibrant live music scene, which dates all the way back to the 1900s when speakeasies and jazz clubs were thriving in the area. This year, for the first time, we are offering our guests a completely unique opportunity to experience the rich community of incredible local musicians and our lively restaurants and bars with a Friday evening curated for jazz lovers. If you are traveling for the festival, we recommend arriving early to experience this extra day of jazz.”

Retro Jazz
Also, this year, acclaimed jazz producer Todd Barkan has joined the lineup, and he will host two D.J. sessions, spinning vinyl from artists featured in the first five years of the Saratoga Jazz Festival, 1978 to 1982. Todd recently received the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship award, which is the highest honor the U.S. bestows on jazz artists. He will broadcast live from the SPAC amphitheater.

Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, Todd Barkan will host selected sets of classic jazz music. He will broadcast from the amphitheater apron starting at 10:00 a.m. when the gates open until approximately 1:30 p.m. on both days. Live performances will begin at 11:00 a.m. on the newly built Charles R. Wood Jazz Discovery Stage, formerly known as the Gazebo Stage, and at 3:00 p.m. on the amphitheater stage.

Stella Artois returns to the festival as the lead sponsor of the lawn experience, “the hang.” The upscale Belgian beer company is no stranger to sponsoring high-profile arts and cultural events; they have been notably involved with the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Singapore Jazz Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.

Steeped in Jazz History
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.

While two days and two stages of live, world class jazz are 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.

Tickets and more information on the festival are available online at Back by popular demand are $20 amphitheater ticket options 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.