Jukebox: Jazz Festival gets an early start

There will be music all around Saratoga Springs Friday night, followed by 21 jazz artists Saturday and Sunday at SPAC
Terri Lyne Carrington plays at SPAC and then at Skidmore College.
Terri Lyne Carrington plays at SPAC and then at Skidmore College.

A big jazz sandwich with fresh ingredients: Freihofer’s 41st Saratoga Jazz Festival Saturday and Sunday at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Rts. 9 and 50) follows shows and a gala Friday night; then the Skidmore Jazz Institute presents jazz all week. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington plays Sunday with the TEN trio at SPAC, then Tuesday at Skidmore with her quartet, for example.

Friday night, venues present jazz all over town. At Caffe Lena (47 Phila St.) pianist Chuck Lamb expands his regular band to a quintet. (8 p.m. $18 advance, $20 door, $10 students and children 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org). Jazz also fills the National Museum of Dance, Northshire Bookstore, The Adelphi Hotel, Kru Coffee, The Local, Sperry’s, The Gideon Putnam, Hampton Inn & Suites, Morton’s the Steakhouse and others Friday night. 

Friday’s big-ticket big-star show is “A Night on Bourbon Street” at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park, a gala with music by trumpeter/singer Bria Skonberg (a smash at A Place for Jazz a few seasons back) and New Orleans-style food and cocktails. $150 at www.spac.org

Saratoga jazz stalwarts return to SPAC this weekend: pianists Herbie Hancock and Joey Alexander, reeds wizards Anat Cohen and Jane Bunnett, and percussionist Pedrito Martinez. Singer Gregory Porter, trumpeter Chris Botti and guitarist Scott Sharrard have played smaller venues here. Newcomers include singers José James, Lakecia Benjamin and Jazzmeia Horn, Sharrard with his Brickyard Band, and trumpeter/singer Keyon Harrold. (Horn sings at A Place for Jazz this fall.)

As always, artists shake things up; expanding their bands, building new ones or all-star tributes. Guitarist Mark Whitfield leads a new trio with bassist Ben Allison and drummerBilly Drummond; Martinez and pianist Alfredo Rodriguez have a new duo, and New Orleans @ 300 features Big Easy stars clarinetist Evan Christopher; singer Quiana Lynell, pianist David Torkanowsky, bassist-singer Roland Guerin and drummer Shannon Powell.

In a category all its own, the TEN Trio features drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, bassist Esperanza Spalding and trumpeter Nicholas Payton — three notably restless, towering talents. Good thing Carrington, who leads three bands these days, sorted things out for us. 

The Massachusetts native studied and teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston, moving to New York at the urging of mentor Jack DeJohnette and playing on Stan Getz’s last live recording, also with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and many others before launching her own projects. She both plays with the big boys and mentors jazz-women. She led the band on Arsenio Hall’s talk show, assembled the all-woman all-star Mosaic Project — powerful and versatile in a New Orleans Jazz Fest gig I caught — and became the first woman to win a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for “Money Jungle” in 2013, plus two more.

Of TEN, she said, “This trio actually formed when (revered pianist) Geri Allen passed away.” She explained, “We had a week coming up at the Village Vanguard with ACS trio (Allen, Carrington and Esperanza Spalding) and when Geri passed (June 27, 2017) we decided to do that week with horn players. So we had Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane (both saxophonists) and Nicholas Payton. Nicholas and Esperanza and myself enjoyed playing with each other so much that we decided to do some more shows. It’s pretty much that simple.”

She added, however, “TEN is not my band.” She said, “It’s totally democratic. There is no leader, and we all make suggestions, decide repertoire and suggest gigs or venues.”

She generally works this way: “I’ve always toured different projects based on either a CD or a theme or something that determines the repertoire, so I could conceivably do four shows with it all being very different.”

Her “Money Jungle” album led to five years of touring, most recently with Social Science, “a new project that I’ve just started touring.” The lineup is Matt Stevens, guitar; Aaron Parks, keyboards; Debo Ray, vocals; Morgan Guerin, bass and saxophone plus new addition Kassa Overall DJ’ing and rapping. “This is the band that I hope to tour more with in the near future.”

First, though, Tuesday, Carrington launches Skidmore’s summer Jazz Institute, playing music from “Money Jungle,” but with a different band than TEN or Social Science: Mark Shim, saxophone; Jared Henderson, bass; and Santiago Bosch, piano. She said, “This show is my group as a leader, so it’s not the same, as far as democracy like TEN.”

She compared the three bands this way: “The quartet is more acoustic, a bit more straight ahead. TEN would be a bit more ‘modern’ for lack of a better word, yet still acoustic with occasional vocals from Esperanza. Social Science is electric and very different sounding than the others. More fusion-funk-rock influenced.”

Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival brings 21 jazz artists to the two SPAC stages Saturday and Sunday. New this season: Shows start at 11 a.m. on the Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage (a much-improved facility replacing the Gazebo stage) and 3 p.m. on the main stage.

Orchestra pit: $150 one day; $190 both days; amphitheater: $75-$95 one day; $130-$170 both days; lawn: $65 one day, $110 both days. 

Terri Lyne Carrington leads her Quartet Tuesday at Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center, Ladd Concert Hall (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs). 8 p.m. 
$8 adults, $5 seniors/Skidmore community, FREE for students and children. 518-580-5321 www.skidmore.edu

The Skidmore Jazz Institute continues bringing students, faculty and guest artists to the Zankel Music Center.

Next Thursday, June 28: Skidmore Jazz All-Stars: Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Jim Snidero, saxophone; Steve Davis, trombone; Jeb Patton, piano; Dave Stryker, guitar; David Wong, bass; and Dennis Mackrel, drums. 8 p.m.

Next Friday, June 29: Jazz Institute Participants (students). 1 p.m. Free

July 3: Dave Liebman Quintet. 8 p.m.

July 5: Skidmore Jazz All-Stars: Ray Vega, trumpet; Dick Oatts, saxophone; Michael Dease, trombone; Bruce Barth, piano; Vic Juris, guitar; Doug Weiss, bass; and Matt Wilson, drums. 8 p.m.

July 6: Jazz Institute Participants (students). 1 p.m. Free

Unless otherwise noted, all shows $8 adults, $5 seniors/Skidmore community, free for students and children. 518-580-5321 www.skidmore.edu

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet plays the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.) Sunday. Drummer Dan Brubeck, bassist/trombonist Chris Brubeck, plus guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb (leading a quintet at Caffe Lena Friday night) play mostly Chris’s originals. 7 p.m. $29.59, $32.50, $37.50, $39.50. 518-953-0630 www.thecohoesmusichall.org

At The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Wednesday, jazz cats play Phish tunes in JAZZ IS PHISH: Rob Compa (of Dopapod), guitar; Felix Pastorius (son of Jaco), bass; Dave Grippo (part of Phish’s own Giant Country Horns), sax; Domi DeGalle, keyboards; and Alicia Aubin, trombone. 7:30 p.m. $22. 518473-1845 www.theegg.org

The 38th Old Songs Festival (Altamont Fairgrounds, Rt. 146) also happens this weekend: Unfortunate timing that underscores how short our summer festival season is.

Friday classes and jams start at 3 p.m. John Roberts hosts the 6:30 Friday show; seven acts including 3 Ravens; then Sue Rosen calls a late contra dance with music by Maivish. Workshops and shows on six stages, starting at 9 a.m., fill Saturday and Sunday. Annie Hills hosts Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. concert: eight acts including “Blind Boy” Patton (a big hit at SPAC’s jazz some years back) and Christine Lavin. Sarah VanNorstrand calls Saturday’s late contra dance, music by the Gaslight Tinkers. Bill Spence and Roger the Jester host Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. show: five acts including Joe Jencks and the impromptu Great Groove Band. MANY ticket options, by age, camping or not, for the full festival or by single event. 518-765-2815 www.festival.oldsongs.org

Categories: Entertainment

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