Jul 6, 2012
The 35th Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival was (as usual) a great two days of music, food and fun. This year's festival was also graced by the best weather in years, with nothing but blue skies and sunshine.
My wife Nancy chronicled the various acts we saw over the two days and two stages with a great slide show you can access by clicking here, with a soundtrack supplied by Festival closing act Rombone Shorty. I hope you'll dig watching it on YouTube as much as we dug watching it live!
As you can see if you watch the slideshow, we spent more time than usual at the Gazebo Stage, where acts who had been appearing there in the past returned for encores. Hailey Niswanger was her usual strong self, Sachal Vasandani surprised with an electric quintet and all new material, Catherine Russell charmed the crowd and Jeremy Pelt was a killer.
On the Main Stage, the festival's most popular act seemed to be Hiromi (pictured above), appearing in a trio that hit hard and often. Capable of dramatic changes from loud to soft, and possessed of a technique that threatened to elevate her petite form from the piano bench at any time, she, Anthony Jackson (contrabass) and Simon Phillips (drums) were the talk of the Festival. Chris Botti was a bit slick for my tastes, but deserved points for including a number of Miles Davis tunes in his set. Christian McBride was solid as ever, as was Diana Krall, whose set featured scintillating performances from guitarist Anthony Wilson and bassist Robert Hurst. Both Esperanza Spalding and Maceo Parker failed to live up to hype. The Mingus Big Band, on the other hand, was everything they had been said to be, performing a wonderful set of Charles Mingus tunes, including a lengthy and expressive "The Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers".
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue came on like gangbusters and never stopped, becoming the ultimate party band for the Festival finale. They pulled out all the stops on originals and traditional favorites like “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. And yes, when they played “When the Saints Go Marching In”, there wasn’t a sole in the audience who didn’t want to be in that number. Don't miss them if they come near your town.
I can’t wait until 2013!