Jun 22, 2019
For this jazz fan, the official start of summer comes on June 29-30 in Saratoga Springs, when the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival takes place in the vernal confines of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It’s a weekend of music on two stages, plus great food, a curated art show, and some of the best vibes of the season.
Danny Melnick of Absolutely Live has been curating the Festival for years, and once again has done a masterful job of bringing jazz, blues, R&B and World music to the stages. This year’s lineup for June 29 includes an Amphitheatre roster of the legendary George Benson; the 50th Anniversary of Cuba’s Los Van Van; singer Kandace Springs; the James Carter Organ Trio; the Mercy Project featuring Jon Cowherd, Steve Cardenas, John Patitucci and Brian Blade; and Prince alum Donna Grantis. The Charles R. Wood "Jazz Discovery" Stage – my favorite place to park in a lawn chair and listen - features Antonio Sánchez & Migration; Lionel Loueke & Raul Midón; Veronica Swift with The Emmet Cohen Trio; Black Art Jazz Collective featuring Wayne Escoffery, Jeremy Pelt, and James Burton; and Joe Locke's Subtle Disguise.
On Sunday we get to do it all over with the Festival premier of Norah Jones; crowd favorites Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; the Django Festival All-Stars with special guests Edmar Castañeda & Grace Kelly; the Joshua Redman Quartet with Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers & Gregory Hutchinson; and one of my top picks, the Joey DeFrancesco Trio featuring Billy Hart.
The Charles R. Wood "Jazz Discovery" Stage will feature blues singer Ruthie Foster;Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom featuring Jenny Scheinman, Carmen Staaf, Kirk Knuffke, Ben Goldberg and Todd Sickafoose; New Orleans’ Cha Was; South Korean signer Youn Sun Nah; Joel Harrison's Angel Band featuring Jon Cowherd, Jaleel Shaw, Stephan Crump and Brian Blade and local heroes Kansas Smitty's House Band.
Podcast 685 is my preview of the festival with Danny Melnick, as we talk about his selection of artists and he tips us to many of his favorite acts. Musical selections include:
George Benson - "I Hear You Knocking" from Walking to New Orleans
Joe Locke - "Motherless Children" from Subtle Disguise
Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom - "Vine and Vein" from Glitter Wolf
Ruthie Foster - "Working Women" from Joy Comes Back