Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Fest Line-Up Announced for SPAC

January 17th, 2016, 7:10 am by Greg
Chick Corea

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Rudy Lu

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center will host 22-time Grammy Award winner Chick Corea, 12-year-old jazz piano prodigy Joey Alexander, Motown legend Smokey Robinson and others at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival on Saturday & Sunday, June 25 & 26.

The 39th annual jazz festival at SPAC will feature 20 acts performing on two stages throughout the weekend.

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Tickets for the festival will go on sale online at 10am on Tuesday (January 19). Reserved amphitheater seats are $75, $85, $95 & 105 per day; lawn admission is $65 per day. Two-day reserved seat tickets are $130, $150, $170 & $190; a two-day lawn pass is $110. There’s a $15 discount for single-day amphitheater tickets for children age 12 & under; a $30 discount on kids two-day tickets. Children age 12 & under are admitted free on the lawn when accompanied by an adult.

Here’s the line-up for the 2016 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival:

SATURDAY, JUNE 25
AMPHITHEATER MAIN STAGE

9:10pm: CHAKA KHAN
The 10-time Grammy Award winner has released 22 albums and racked up ten No. 1 hits, eight gold singles and 11 gold and platinum albums. She is the recipient of a BET Honors award, induction into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
UPDATE: Chaka Khan has cancelled her SPAC appearance due to health issues…

9:10pn: THE ISLEY BROTHERS
featuring Ronald & Ernie Isley
The Isley Brothers, best known for their hit singles, “Shout,” “Twist and Shout,” and “It’s Your Thing,” began performing in the 1950s. In 1969, “It’s Your Thing” earned the brothers a GrammyAward and the first of 10 No. 1 singles on Billboard’s R&B charts, including: “Fight The Power (Part 1),” “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love),” “That Lady (Part 1),” “The Heat Is On,” “The Pride,” “Take Me to the Next Phase,” “Showdown,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Smooth Sailin’ Tonight” and “Spend the Night.”.

7:10pm: STEPS AHEAD REUNION
featuring Michael Mainieri, George Garzone, Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine
Founded in the late ’70s by pioneering vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, the jazz fusion group has achieved global acclaim and become a launching pad for young talent and new musical ideas. As a composer, arranger and performer, Mainieri has contributed to over 100 gold and platinum albums by A-list artists ranging from Carly Simon and George Benson to Aerosmith and Dire Straits.

5:40pm: SHEMEKIA COPELAND
Whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad, the daughter of blues great Johnny Copeland sounds like no one else. The eight-time Blues Music Award winner is nominated for three more this year, including Entertainer of the Year.

4:10pm: CHRISTIAN SCOTT ATUNDE ADJUAH
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah) is a two-time Edison Award-winning jazz trumpeter, composer and producer. His most recent album, Stretch Music, has received critical praise for its genre-agnostic jazz-fusion and emotional intensity.

2:45pm: PIECES OF A DREAM
Returning to the Saratoga Jazz Festival for the first time in almost 20 years, founding members Curtis Harmon and James Lloyd lead the R&B-meets-“smooth jazz” band as they celebrate its 40th anniversary with their new album, All In on the Shanachie label.

1:20pm: THE JOEY ALEXANDER TRIO
As a stunning 12-year-old prodigy, the Indonesian-born piano prodigy made his Greater Nippertown debut at Schenectady’s Music Haven last summer, followed by a knock-out show at Club Helsinki and an upcoming concert at the Woodstock Community Center on Saturday, January 30. He’ll celebrate his 13th birthday with his Saratoga Jazz Fest debut in support of his acclaimed album, My Favorite Things.

12noon: ERIC LINDELL
In 2014, he played shows at Lake George’s Shepard Park and Albany’s Parish Public House, and now the venerated blues guitarist makes his Saratoga Jazz Fest debut with a pair of performances; he’ll also be playing on SPAC’s Gazebo Stage. A mainstay on New Orleans’ rich music scene, he’s known as a prolific writer and a throwback stylist – often harkening back to ’50s vintage doo-wop and R&B grooves.

Eric Lidell and Will McMains

Eric Lindell

SATURDAY, JUNE 25
GAZEBO STAGE

6pm: JAMISON ROSS
The versatile drummer-vocalist was the winner of the 2012 Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition for drums, and his debut album, Jamison, has been nominated for Best Vocal Jazz Album for the 2016 Grammy Awards. This will be his Saratoga Jazz Fest debut.

4:35pm: ERIC LINDELL (see above)

3:05pm: KARRIN ALLYSON
Internationally celebrated singer and bandleader Karin Allyson will bring Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless show music to the Saratoga Jazz Fest in support of her 2015 album Many a Day, which has been nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album of the Year for the 2016 Grammy Awards.

1:40pm: VINCENT HERRING & THE KINGS OF SWING
The virtuoso saxophonist – one of the premier saxmen of his generation – will be joined by B3 organist Mike LeDonne (seen at Saratoga Jazz Fest just last year), bassist David Williams and drummer Carl Allen.

12:15pm: ELIO VILLAFRANCA TRIO
At the forefront of the current generation of remarkable Cuban musicians, the pianist-composer-bandleader is making major creative contributions to the international development of modern jazz. He last played Greater Nippertown at Union College as part of the 2015 Ahora, Latin/Jazz! concert series.

Lizz Wright

Lizz Wright (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)


SUNDAY, JUNE 26
AMPHITHEATER MAIN STAGE

8:30pm: SMOKEY ROBINSON
The legendary Motown master is the recipient of the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, an honorary doctorate from Howard University, the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. He’s also a inductee of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Bob Dylan has called him “America’s greatest living poet.”

6:35pm: CHICK COREA TRILOGY
A DownBeat Hall of Famer, NEA Jazz Master, 22-time Grammy Award-winner and keyboard virtuoso, the piano great has attained living legend status after five decades of unparalleled creativity and staggering artistic output. He returns to SPAC for the first time since 2003, joined by renowned bassist Christian McBride (last at SPAC in 2015) and drummer Brian Blade to perform music from their most recent trio album, Trilogy.

4:55pm: PAT MARTINO ORGAN TRIO PLUS HORNS
The virtuoso jazz guitar great returns for his first SPAC performance in 20 years. A jazz icon since he was 18, Martino fought back from amnesia following a severe brain aneurysm in the 1980s. He’ll be joined by Adam Niewood (tenor sax), Alex Norris (trumpet), Pat Bianchi (Hammond B3) and Carmen Intorre (drums).

3:25pm: LIZZ WRIGHT
Renowned for her earthy alto voice and emotive vocal serenading, Wright will perform songs from her most recent album, Freedom & Surrender, her first collaboration with Grammy Award-winning bassist-producer Larry Klein. Her previous Greater Nippertown appearances include The Egg, Club Helsinki and as part of the Sing the Truth vocal trio (with Dianne Reeves and Angelique Kidjo) at the 2011 Saratoga Jazz Fest.

1:50pm: JON CLEARY & THE ABSOLUTE MONSTER GENTLEMEN
He played at Galway’s intimate Cock ‘N Bull in August and New Year’s Eve at Hudson’s Club Helsinki, and now the piano player and his band bring the funky New Orleans R&B sounds to SPAC in support of his Grammy nominated album GoGo Juice.

12:30pm: THE BRIA SKONBERG QUINTET
During the past couple of years, the Canadian trumpeter-vocalist has performed at the Van Dyck and A Place for jazz, and now she’s taking the big stage at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Bria Skonberg

Bria Skonberg

SUNDAY, JUNE 26
GAZEBO STAGE

5:35pm: JARROD LAWSON
The rising star of soul makes his SPAC debut. The Oregon-based singer will perform original songs from his self-titled 2014 album.

4:10pm: THE BRIA SKONBERG QUINTET (see above)

2:50pm: THE AARON DIEHL TRIO
The piano prodigy plays with what The New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” In 2015 he served as music director to the Jazz at Lincoln Center New Orleans Songbook concert series, toured the U.S. and Europe with sublime jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant (including a stop at Albany’s Massry Center for the Arts as part of the inaugural Bridge Jazz Festival) and released his critically acclaimed sophomore album, Space Time Continuum.

1:30pm: ALICIA OLATUJA
The mezzo-soprano stepped into the international spotlight with her impressive performance
at President Barrack Obama’s 2013 Inauguration and her solo debut album, Timeless, the following year. She frequently performs with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble and her own Olatuja Project.

12:10pm: LAURENT COQ & WALTER SMITH III
The French pianist and the American saxophonist lead their quartet in music from The Lafayette Suite, continuing the spirit of collaboration begun between French nobleman Marquis de Lafayette and President George Washington during the American Revolutionary War.