LIVE: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival @ SPAC, 6/30 (Day One, Take Two)

July 18th, 2012, 2:00 pm by Greg
Chris Botti (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Chris Botti

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

In the morning the traditional stampede through SPAC’s gates took place without a hitch. Fans vied with each other to set up their territorial camps on the lawn as tents and umbrellas popped up like wildflowers and old friends and acquaintances exchanged hellos.

Several hours later at 12noon, the festivities began as New Orleans native and monster trumpeter Mario Abney and his group, the Abney Effect, threw out the first notes of the 35th Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival from the amphitheater. Just 15 minutes later, saxophone prodigy Hailey Niswanger and her band christened the festival from across the way on the gazebo stage.

The festival was now officially open and ready for business: a solid day of jazz business, that is.

Read the rest of this entry »


LIVE: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival @ SPAC, 6/30/12 (Day One)

July 17th, 2012, 4:00 pm by Greg
Esperanza Spalding (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Esperanza Spalding (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Review and photographs by Stanley Johnson
Additional photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Mario Abney and his band the Abney Effect started Saturday afternoon in the amphitheater with a bright mix of progressive grooves, modern soul and traditional jazz schools. Dressed in white, the trumpeter and his band showed their influences in both Miles Davis and New Orleans’ second-line brass band sounds. “A Hundred the Hard Way” had notes flying over accompanying piano, bass and drums. The band featured some material from their 2010 debut release “Spiritual Perception,” and later, during their gazebo stage performance, got the audience up and involved in second-line march and sing-a-long. “We rolling,” they sang, which eventually morphed into “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Until the following evening’s set with Trombone Shorty, this was as enthusiastic a reception from the audience that I saw all weekend.

Which doesn’t mean that other performers didn’t excite the crowd. However, with all the partying on the lawn and beyond, sometimes it was difficult to get the audience’s attention. (We literally could not hear Diana Krall on Sunday because of the crowd until we moved up along the front border of the lawn.)

Indeed, it was saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, next on the gazebo stage, who had the strongest “You don’t want to miss this” buzz. The Portland, Oregon native, with Takeshi Ohbayashi on piano, Max Moran on bass and Mark Whitfield on drums, played a number of selections from her sophomore album, “The Keeper,” including the original compositions “Norman” and “Straight Up,” which she dedicated to “all of you that tell the truth, always.” Niswanger, slim and easy-on-the-eye in a diaphanous skirt, channeled a lot of wind through her horn, sometimes squealing in a way that reminded me of John Coltrane. “She’s doing it right,” one of my neighbors commented. “That’s my kind of jazz.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival Schedule for SPAC, 6/30-7/1/12

June 20th, 2012, 10:00 am by Greg
Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker at The Massry Center last September

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs has announced the schedule of performance times for the 35th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, which will take place on Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1.

Go here for more info on the fest and performers. Here’s the performance schedule:

Read the rest of this entry »

LIVE: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival @ SPAC, 6/26-27/10

June 30th, 2010, 4:01 pm by Greg

Ann Hampton Callaway

Ann Hampton Callaway

As usual, the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival offered a smorgasbord of sounds. Some were old reliable sounds. Some were fresh and surprising. Some were – well, let’s just say, ummm – best passed over.

Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and the woefully under-rated pianist Ahmad Jamal were the two musicians that I was most looking forward to hearing, having never seen either of them in concert previously. And they didn’t disappoint. The 67-year-old Stanko’s early afternoon gazebo set on Saturday was delicious, veering from dreamy soundscapes to angular bop, as he led his young band – featuring Danish electric guitarist Jakob Bro – down the path less traveled.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stefon Harris, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

June 23rd, 2010, 10:01 am by Greg

Stefon Harris (center) and Blackout (photo by Nitin Vadukal)

Stefon Harris (center) and Blackout (photo by Nitin Vadukal)

“Growing up, I listened to a lot of classical music because that’s what I was studying at the time, but I can’t really remember the first album I ever bought.

I do remember the first album that turned it all around for me, however. In my first year of college, someone gave me a record by Charlie Parker called ‘Now’s the Time.’ It was a very moving experience, and that’s all it took for me. I listened to that recording, and I was completely blown away.

The next year, I moved to New York City so that I could be closer to the jazz and learn more about it.”

Jazz vibraphonist and Albany native Stefon Harris leads his band Blackout into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Sunday for the second day of the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival. Harris and Blackout will also play a free concert at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center at 8pm on Tuesday as part of the Skidmore Jazz Institute concert series.

Real Good For (Almost) Free: Wynton Marsalis’ “Live In Marciac”

June 22nd, 2010, 9:45 am by Sara

Live In MarciacWynton Marsalis is not slated to performed at the Jazz Fest in Saratoga this weekend, but you’re going to need some good road music for the drive there and back, so you might want to know that his new release “From Billie Holiday To Edith Piaf: Live In Marciac” is available as a download from for just $2.99, but the offer is only good today (Tuesday, June 22).

Say, here’s something else that’s Real Good For Free: we’re giving away two pairs of weekend passes to the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival this weekend.

Festival Fever: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, 6/26-27/10

June 21st, 2010, 1:38 pm by Greg

OK, you probably already know the line-up of musicians slated to perform this Saturday and Sunday at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Fest at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, but know we’ve also got the performance schedule, so you can really start planning your weekend’s jazz outing.

And don’t forget, we’re also giving away tix to the fest. Nothing to buy. Just go here.

Here’s the schedule:

Read the rest of this entry »

Win FREE tix to Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Fest @ SPAC

June 21st, 2010, 10:59 am by Greg

Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight

The annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival takes over the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this weekend, and we’ve got two pairs of two-day lawn tickets to give away.

Saturday’s line-up features Al Jarreau & the George Duke Trio, Sax For Stax (featuring Gerald Albright & Kirk Whalum), Ahmad Jamal, Taj Mahal, Al Di Meola’s World Sinfonia, Evan Christopher, the Mario Abney Quintet, the Tomasz Stanko Quartet, Alyssa Graham, the JD Allen Trio and the Steve Kroon Sextet.

On Sunday, the roster of musical talent includes Gladys Knight, Juan De Marcos & the Afro Cuban All Stars, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Ann Hampton Callaway, Stefon Harris & Blackout, Trio of OZ (featuring Rachel Z and Omar Hakim), the Linda Oh Trio, the Kendrick Scott Oracle, the Ralph Lalama Quartet and Hailey Niswanger.

To enter to win Jazz Fest tix, simply hit the “Comment” button below, and tell us the name of your favorite jazz musician or band. Be sure to include your email address (we won’t publish it), so we can notify you if you win. We’ll pick TWO winners at random on Friday morning. Good luck!. Congratulations, Kim and Mike!

Jim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysHolly & EvanThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantCartoonist John CaldwellCaffe LenaAdvertise on Nippertown!The LindaAlbany PoetsHudson SoundsAustralian Cattle Dog Rescue Association