SPAC Jazz Fest Full Line-Up Announced

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Stanley Johnson

Erykah Badu, Sheila E., Snarky Puppy and others have been announced to round out the line-up for the 38th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

The two-day fest takes place on Saturday & Sunday, June 27 & 28, featuring music on two stages beginning at 12noon.

In addition to the marathon of jazz, the fest also features a fine arts and crafts fair, CD signings by many of the artists, a full-service bar in SPAC’s Hall of Springs, southern-style barbecue and other specialty food vendors.

Tickets for the fest are $60-$85 per day; $155-$110 for both. Tickets for kids age 12 and under are $45-$70; $80-$125 for both. Kids are admitted free on the lawn when accompanied by an adult. Online tickets are currently on sale to SPAC members and will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, March 24. Box office and phone ticket sales begin on Friday, May 15.

Here’s the complete schedule of bands for the 2015 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival:


12noon: THEO CROKER: The music of the noted trumpet player and bandleader incorporates elements of salsa, rock, R&B, blues and hip-hop.

: Over the span of five decades, the veteran pianist has bridged the worlds of American jazz, popular song and the music of his native Jamaica.

2:45pm: THE PEDRITO MARTINEZ GROUP: A Cuban-born vocalist and percussionist is a master of Afro-Cuban folkloric music and no stranger to Nippertown jazz fans.

4:10pm: THE CHRISTIAN McBRIDE BIG BAND: The acclaimed bassist-bandleader returns for his fifth appearance at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival.

5:40pm: THE AL DI MEOLA ELECTRIC BAND: The virtuoso jazz fusion guitarist (and alum of Return to Forever) plays his original compositions influenced by flamenco, tango, Middle Eastern, Brazilian and African music.

7:20pm: CASSANDRA WILSON CELEBRATES BILLIE HOLIDAY: The sublime, adventurous vocalist and two-time Grammy Award winner returns to SPAC to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Billie Holiday.

9:20pm: MAZE FEATURING FRANKIE BEVERLY: Here comes the quiet storm… and the slow jams. 38 years after the release of their debut album the smooth soul band is still rolling along.

Cassandra Wilson and JT Lewis
Cassandra Wilson (photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk)


12:15pm: THE OMER AVITAL QUARTET: The composer-bassist-oud player is a leader in the world-music genre, with Eli Degibri, Joel Frahm, Yonathan Avishai and Johnathan Blake.

1:20pm: STEVE WILSON & WILSONIAN’S GRAIN: The versatile saxman leads his quartet, featuring Orrin Evans, Ugonna Okegwo and Bill Stewart.

3:10pm: DUCHESS: The new vocal trio of Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner and Melissa Stylianou performs jazz classics in the tradition of the Boswell Sisters.

4:40pm: THEO CROKER (see above)

6pm: THE MIKE LeDONNE GROOVER QUARTET: The keyboardist serves up jazz, swing and soul with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein and Joe Farnsworth.

Ronnie Earl (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)
Ronnie Earl (photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk)


12noon: ETIENNE CHARLES: The young trumpeter performs Caribbean-inspired jazz.

1:20pm: THE DJANGO FESTIVAL ALL-STARS: The hot-swing quintet features celebrated French jazz musicians Pierre Blanchard, Ludovic Beier and Doudou Cuillerier, with bassist Brian Torff and leader Samson Schmitt.

2:40pm: HEAD OF STATE ENSEMBLE: The all-star quartet features Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams and Al Foster.

4pm: RONNIE EARL & THE BROADCASTERS: The Boston-based blues guitar master and his band return to the SPAC jazz fest for the second consecutive year.

5:30pm: SNARKY PUPPY: Led by bassist-guitarist-composer Michael League, the Brooklyn-based, Grammy Award-winning fusion jazz group return to Nippertown following their show last September at the Upstate Concert Hall.

7:10pm: ERYKAH BADU: The First Lady of Neo-Soul is a four-time Grammy Award winner, known for her smooth, passionate vocals.

8:55pm: SHEILA E.: Best known for her work with Prince and her solo hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre,” the world-class drummer-percussionist-singer returns to town following her concert at Albany’s Alive at Five concert series last August.

Sheila E.  (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Sheila E. (photograph by Stanley Johnson)


12:15pm: THE YOSVANY TERRY QUARTET: A blast of Afro-Cuban jazz and more from the saxophonist and his band featuring Osmany Paredes, Yunior Terry and Obed Calvaire.

1:35pm: KELLYLEE EVANS: The Canadian vocalist performs her unique interpretations of hip-hop hits by the likes of Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and others.

2:55pm: THE BENNY GREEN TRIO: The bop pianist-composer is joined by bassist David Wong and drummer Rodney Green.

4:15pm: ETIENNE CHARLES (see above)

5:40pm: SONNY KNIGHT & THE LAKERS: Soul, R&B and funk led by the 67-year-old Knight’s exuberant, energetic vocals.

MOVE Music Festival @ various locations, Albany, 4/24-26/15
SummerSound @ Tanglewood, Lenox, 5/23&24/15
Mountain Jam @ Hunter Mountain, Hunter, 6/4-7/15
A Taste of Country Music Festival @ Hunter Mountain, Hunter, 6/12-14/15
Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival @ Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson, 6/20&21/15
Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, North Adams, 6/26-28/15
CountryFest @ Schaghticoke Fairgrounds, Schaghticoke, 7/11/15
Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival @ Walsh Farm, Oak Hill, 7/16-19/15
FreshGrass @ MASS MoCA, North Adams, 9/18-20/15

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