Jazz returns to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this summer with the 45th Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, slated for June 25-26, featuring a packed roster of 24 musical groups performing on two stages.
The festival is headlined by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, returning to the festival for the first time since 1998; soul music legend Booker T. Presents: A Stax Revue; powerhouse vocalist Ledisi for her festival debut; jazz/hip-hop pianist Robert Glasper; and New Orleans funk and jazz collective Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph.
“The 2022 Festival promises to be a memorable one in so many ways. Not only thanks to a stellar and varied line-up but also to the sheer joy of being back to full scale,” said Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of SPAC.
“We’ll be celebrating 25 years of partnership with Freihofer’s, as well as the first of a new multi-year commitment from the company. While a number of other jazz festivals are changing and downsizing, Freihofer’s support is allowing us to go back to the full Saratoga Jazz Fest experience its long-time fans have come to love and expect.”
Highlighting the 15 festival debuts is Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Booker T. Jones, the famed frontman of Booker T. & the M.G.s, and the acclaimed producer of the legendary Memphis-based Stax Records. Jones will showcase his 10-piece band with three lead vocalists performing hits like “Green Onions,” “Hang ‘Em High” and “Time is Tight” and classic Stax songs “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding), “Hold On I’m Coming” (Sam and Dave), and “Gee Whiz” (Carla Thomas), among others. Also making her festival debut is 2021 Grammy Award-winning vocalist Ledisi, who is also slated to perform at SPAC on August 3 as part of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s season in a program dedicated to the music of Nina Simone.
The Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage is back for the first time since 2019, featuring rhythmic, global and funk grooves by groups from Red Baraat to Cha Wa to Tiempo Libre and contemporary jazz artists like Matt Wilson, Craig Handy, Connie Han, Ryan Keberle, Emmaline and Dan Wilson. The Skidmore Jazz Institute Faculty All-Stars will celebrate George Wein, the founder of the festival who passed away at the age of 95 in September 2021.
“My mentor and the festival founder, George Wein, always focused on producing events for everyone and that’s exactly what we’ve done for our big return,” said Danny Melnick, the festival producer and President of Absolutely Live Entertainment. “Our 45th festival features award-winning musical legends, unique all-star collaborations, cutting-edge bands and many popular rising stars.”
Following Jazz Fest debuts in 2021, Hot Club of Saratoga and Garland Nelson (leading Joyful Noise) will return to kick off the amphitheater line-up on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Beyond the music, the festival will include a fine arts and crafts fair, artist CD signings, southern-style barbeque and other food vendors at SPAC’s concession area.
Guests can bring food and beverages, as well as blankets, tents and lawn umbrellas. Performances will begin each day on the Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage at 11 a.m. and on the Amphitheater Stage at noon.
Tickets for the festival start at $65 and will be available online at spac.org beginning March 16 at 10 a.m. to the general public and starting on March 7 at 10 a.m. to SPAC members (tiered by level).
Two-day passes are also available for a savings of $10 per ticket (offer ends May 1). $20 amphitheater ticket options are available for children ages 12 and under and students with a school-issued ID. Seating is best available with some exclusions. Lawn seating is free for children ages 12 and under.
As far as COVID-19 precautions are concerned, in a statement, SPAC said it will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines mandated by New York State and the CDC and will adjust ticketing and safety policies accordingly. Full guidelines will be published in advance of the festival.
Here’s a look at the 2022 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival line-up:
Saturday, June 25
Booker T. Presents: A Stax Revue
Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph
Con Tumbao featuring Issac Delgado, Robby Ameen, Oscar Hernandez, Conrad Herwig, Pedrito Martinez, Juan Munguia, Alain Pérez, Mike Rodriguez, Tony Succar & Miguel Zenon
Ozmosys Band featuring Omar Hakim & Rachel Z
Amina Figarova Sextet plus Strings
Hot Club of Saratoga
Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:
Matt Wilson’s Honey & Salt with Dawn Thomson, Nadje Noordhuis, Jeff Lederer & Martin Wind
Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith
Connie Han Trio
Dan Wilson Trio
Sunday, June 26
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
SuperBlue: Kurt Elling featuring Charlie Hunter
Garland Nelson’s Joyful Noise
Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:
Ryan Keberle & Catharsis
Skidmore Jazz Institute Faculty All-Stars celebrate George Wein featuring Mike Rodriguez, Steve Davis, Jimmy Greene, Bill Cunliffe, Dave Stryker, Todd Coolman & Dennis Mackrel