Artemis is ready for a restart. The all-women jazz supergroup, with members hailing from around the globe, will get back to business this weekend on Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s stage.
“This performance is a big deal for us to get back together again after so many months of being apart,” said Renee Rosnes, pianist and musical director for Artemis, in a recent interview with The Gazette.
Rosnes, along with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller, will perform on Sunday as part of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival.
Named by Jensen after the Greek goddess of wild animals and childbirth, the band is made up of established solo artists from the United States, Canada, France, Chile, Israel and Japan. They first came together several years ago for what was going to be two concerts to celebrate International Women’s Day in Paris and Luxembourg.
“We had a lot of fun together and we decided that it would be fun to make a tour together,” Rosnes said.
Then, the tour turned into something more.
“Again, we just had a really wonderful time playing together and the music really gelled and it really had nothing to do with the fact that we were all female, even though we were, but we were playing together because we enjoyed playing together . . . It was after that tour that we decided to remain a band,” Rosnes said.
Each member brings her own style to the group and it comes through on their eponymous debut album, recorded in 2019 and released in September the following year.
“Basically, everybody brought in an arrangement or a composition and we got together and rehearsed beforehand and just decided on which pieces we wanted to record and then we just went in the studio and did it,” Rosnes said.
Coming in at nine tracks, it’s a joyful album, with originals and reimagined classics like “The Fool On The Hill” by The Beatles and “If It’s Magic” by Stevie Wonder.
In a review of the album, NPR’s Kevin Whitehead said “Supergroups combining far-flung music stars don’t always work with competing sensibilities in play, but the members of this band are in alignment. Mutual support is built into the way the colorful horns may play scored passages behind solos, and one soloist may dive in while another is still finishing up so the action is nonstop.”
While the reviews were positive, putting an album out in the middle of a pandemic was bittersweet.
“It was also lovely to be able to share new music with people,” Rosnes said. “It was a challenge because normally when you release an album you support it with touring.” Their tour was called off and Rosnes said it was disappointing to not have the chance to share the music following the album.
However, the pandemic didn’t keep Rosnes or Jensen from playing; they just turned to different settings.
Over the last year or so, Jensen juggled parenting and a new job as interim dean and director of jazz arts at the Manhattan School of Music. She also performed concerts on her front lawn, which she shared online.
“It’s pretty close to home stuff, it’s great. I actually really loved it,” Jensen said.
Rosnes concentrated on composing, creating an entire album’s worth of new pieces which she recorded in April. The recording, which features saxophonist Chris Potter and bassist Christian McBride, is called “Kinds of Love,” and is slated for release on September 3, 2021.
For now, with Artemis, Rosnes said “we’re picking up where we left off . . . and presenting all the music that we haven’t been able to present because of the pandemic.”
They’ll perform on Sunday and they’re looking forward to finally feeling the energy from the audience again.
“We can all make music for ourselves, or even for each other, but when you get in front of an audience, you feel that energy, it’s a different ball game,” Rosnes said.
Here’s a look at the rest of the festival line-up:
Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival
Dianne Reeves a Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist who was named Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts will perform from 2:45-3:45 p.m.
Reeves is followed by the seven-time Grammy Award-winning Christian McBride’s New Jawn, performing from 4:15-5:30 p.m.
Indonesian jazz pianist and composer Joey Alexander returns for his third festival appearance. The youngest jazz artist nominated for a Grammy, he’ll celebrate his 18th birthday at SPAC, performing from 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Presented by Caffe Lena, Hot Club of Saratoga will kick the day off, performing from noon to 12:45 p.m. The gypsy jazz swing ensemble performs in a style inspired by Django Reinhardt and The Quintet of the Hot Club of France prominent in the 1930s.
Composer, singer and visual artist Cécile McLorin Salvant will perform from 4:15-5:30 p.m. The Grammy Award-winner has a knack for finding connections between vaudeville, blues, folk, theater, jazz and baroque music.
Artemis is up just before Salvant, performing from 2:45-3:45 p.m.
Al Di Meola, a prolific composer who has amassed over 20 albums while collaborating on dozens of others with the band Return to Forever, will perform from 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Garland Nelson’s Joyful Noise will make its festival debut in a concert presented by Caffe Lena, running from noon to 12:45 p.m.
For tickets and more information visit spac.org.
More from The Daily Gazette: