Jazz artists Chris Botti, Herbie Hancock and Jon Batiste will be among a large and talented field of musicians scheduled to perform at this year’s Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival June 23-24 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Gregory Porter and 14-year-old pianist Joey Alexander are also part of the ticket this summer, along with gospel and R&B legend Mavis Staples. Other emerging artists making their Jazz Festival debut include Jose James, Lakecia Benjamin and SoulSquad, Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band, Jazzmeia horn and Keyon Harrold.
A new feature for the 2018 festival, now in its 41st year, will be an 11 a.m. starting time on both days on the new Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage, formerly known as the Gazebo Stage. Performances in SPAC’s Amphitheater Stage will begin each day at 3 p.m.
“Our electric lineup of artists ranges from festival favorites like Chris Botti and Jon Batiste who are back by popular demand, to icons like Mavis Staples who is making her long-awaited festival debut, to emerging genre-crossing artists performing on our Charles R. Wood ‘Jazz Discovery’ Stage for the first time,” said SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol. “Whether you love the music of great jazz artists like Gregory Porter and Esperenza Spalding, or look forward to ‘the hang’ with family and friends, the atmosphere and serene park surroundings are as spectacular as the music.”
Another new feature of the festival is “Saratoga Jazz Fest Friday,” a new initiative in collaboration with Saratoga Springs which will bring together local musicians performing in venues across the city.
“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,” said Sobol. “This year, for the first time, we are offering our guests a completely u ique 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.”
Botti, who has sold nearly three million albums worldwide, will perform on the first day of the event. He is making his fifth trip to Saratoga Springs and the first since 2012.
Hancock, a legendary pianist who has won 14 Grammy Awards and one Academy Award, will be making his 12th appearance at the festival, but the first since 2006. Hancock was also honored by the Kennedy Center in 2013 and was also given a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2016.
James’ appearance this summer will help celebrate the 80th birthday of R&B singer/songwriter Bill Withers. James’ performance, entitled “Lean on Me: Jose James celebrates Bill Withers,” will include some of Withers’ greatest hits, such as “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Hope She’ll Be Happier.”
Alexander, an Indonesian jazz pianist making his second appearance at the Jazz Festival, was the youngest musician ever to be nominated for a Grammy.
Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen Tentet will also perform on the main stage.
Tickets for the Jazz Festival will be available online at www.spac.org beginning Thursday, March 1, at 10 a.m. $20 ticket options will be available for children 15 and under with student ID. Other ticket prices range from $190 to $65.