2018 Lineup

February 19th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

Saratoga Performing Arts Center exterior photo

The 2018 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will take place on Saturday June 23rd and Sunday June 24th, 2018 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY USA.

Lineup

For the first time in the Festival’s 41-year history, performances will begin at 11 a.m. on the newly built Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” stage. Performances on the amphitheater stage will begin at 3 p.m.

Saturday June 23rd

Amphitheater

  • Chris Botti
  • Herbie Hancock
  • Lean on Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers
  • Joey Alexander
  • Anat Cohen Tentet

Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage (new Gazebo Stage)

  • Lakecia Benjamin and SoulSquad
  • Alfredo Rodriguez & Pedrito Martinez Duo
  • Keyon Harrold
  • Jazzmeia Horn
  • New Orleans @ 300 featuring Evan Christopher, David Torkanowsky & Shannon Powell
  • Christian Sands Trio
Sunday June 24th

Amphitheater

  • Jon Batiste with The Dap-Kings
  • Gregory Porter
  • Mavis Staples
  • TEN: Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Nicholas Payton

Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage (new Gazebo Stage)

  • Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band
  • Deva Mahal
  • Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
  • The Jazz Passengers 30th Anniversary
  • Mark Whitfield, Ben Allison, Billy Drummond
  • Sammy Miller & The Congregation

Notes

Help support this site, and get ready for the festival by shopping for Jazz CDs on Amazon.com.

SPAC exterior photo on this page licensed via CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia.

  1. Danny Melnick (producer)
    April 9th, 2018 at 16:45 | #1

    Hi Friends – Hope everyone is feeling that spring vibe. Supposed to be 70* this weekend!

    I’ve been held up with a broken ankle this past month from a mishap during a snowstorm in early March but have 8 more days in the orthopedic boot and should be (better be!) good to go….

    I was listening to this “Jazz Night in America” NPR program this morning and wanted to share it with y’all. –

    https://www.npr.org/event/music/598048516/jazzmeia-horn-enters-the-jazz-vocal-pantheon

    Jazzmeia is the real deal and I’m so glad she’ll be with us on June 23.

    Best – DM

  2. Anonymous
    April 5th, 2018 at 14:45 | #2

    @Pete
    There is a link on this page with the lineup history

  3. Chuck
    April 4th, 2018 at 17:51 | #3

    @Pete
    I’ve been attending since 1984 and have records of many of the years. Let me know what you lack and perhaps I can help out.

  4. Pete
    April 4th, 2018 at 13:54 | #4

    Am compiling lists of performers from all 40 previous festivals to go along with the many pictures I’ve complied. My records are spotty. Can anyone help fill in some blanks on each years lineup.
    Also….much confusion….especially from those of us who have been to them all as to the format changes, gate opening, start time for 1st act etc…. Hoping that SPAC puts out the word soon. Lineup is great.

  5. Jim h
    March 29th, 2018 at 09:58 | #5

    @Chuck
    That hurts Chuck. How can I possess your worldly jazz knowledge, you rule

  6. Chuck
    March 28th, 2018 at 09:11 | #6

    @Jim H
    What is this censorship? You are ridiculous.

  7. Jim H
    March 27th, 2018 at 10:09 | #7

    why don’t we all look forward to and focus on the artists that will be performing in June and not worry about who is not performing ? After the Festival in June we can all send our suggestions for 2019 !

  8. Tori
    March 26th, 2018 at 10:35 | #8

    Najee? Meh…Sax Pack, Fourplay, Gerald Albright, Special EFX???

  9. Chuck
    March 25th, 2018 at 07:08 | #9

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    I saw Steve Tyrell last night and he was excellent as usual though I wish he would jettison the second filler keyboard. He has expanded his catalogue a bit on his new album to include Van Morrison and Otis Redding covers among others in addition to his wonderful Great American Song Book renditions. He would always be a worthy Saratoga booking. The revelation was Grace Kelly who sat in on about half the songs. Her playing seemed excellent though somewhat under mixed. The surprise was the vocals. She appears to be a terrific song stylist. She last appeared at the Gazebo in 2009 (she didn’t sing then as I recall). With her singing, playing and dynamic “fox bomb” appearance, she is possibly an emerging jazz star and should be considered for future booking.

  10. Danny Melnick (producer)
    March 24th, 2018 at 11:47 | #10

    @JJ
    I think it was Matt Wilson, late fill-in. He’s got white hair… DM

  11. Peter B
    March 21st, 2018 at 13:17 | #11

    Hey Danny Next time(year) Freddie Hendrix would be a great choice.

    Could do worse with Mack Avenue All Stars

  12. Danny Melnick (producer)
    March 20th, 2018 at 17:04 | #12

    @JJ
    I’ll find out….

  13. Danny Melnick (producer)
    March 20th, 2018 at 17:03 | #13

    @PDH
    He lives in France and very rarely tours the US.

    Best DM

  14. Chuck
    March 16th, 2018 at 11:17 | #14

    @Edward Randolph
    Najee played the amphitheater on Sunday July 3rd, 1988 at 2:35 P.M. It’s been thirty years. Good luck.

  15. Edward Randolph
    March 15th, 2018 at 15:20 | #15

    I am interested in seeing Najee perform at the Jazz festival, I have spoken with hsiManager Fareed Haqq who has also expressed an interest in having Najee perform at the Jazz festival. How can we make this happen?

  16. PDH
    March 15th, 2018 at 08:29 | #16

    I have asked about getting VINX to play for years now any interest at all or he is not able to do show ?? Danny can you please respond this time. Thanks

  17. March 11th, 2018 at 10:54 | #17

    Who was the drummer in Christian McBride’s big band in 2015? He was an older white guy that kicked it and I haven’t been able to find his name.

  18. Oscar Madisox
    March 5th, 2018 at 16:09 | #18

    @Chuck
    Thanks for sharing Chuck, great to know !

  19. Amir Bryant
    March 5th, 2018 at 14:42 | #19

    I’m 15 years old and I would love to be able to play my trumpet at the gazebo for only a little time or go on for a set with a band and the 2018 Jazz Festival.

  20. Chuck
    March 5th, 2018 at 10:01 | #20

    Saw “Lean on Me: Jose James Celebrates Bill Withers” last night (had the tickets before the SPAC announcement) and loved it. It’s a great combination of soul and jazz. He does all the hits (“Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Use Me”, “Grandma’s Hands”, “Lean On Me” etc.). Terrific band with James Francies, Reuben Rogers, Nate Smith and a guitarist whose name I didn’t catch. Me thinks the ladies especially will love this set on Saturday.

  21. vivian
    March 4th, 2018 at 17:46 | #21

    Please bring Boney back!!!!!

  22. greg
    February 28th, 2018 at 13:39 | #22

    No David Sanborn this year???????

  23. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 22nd, 2018 at 14:51 | #23

    @jazzer
    We are working to confirm which clubs will participate and will announce that when ready. The clubs will book the artists directly. DM

  24. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 22nd, 2018 at 09:55 | #24

    @Zac
    Yes we will. Thanks. DM

  25. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 22nd, 2018 at 09:54 | #25

    @Ernie Wilson
    Hi Ernie – couldn’t have said it better myself. DM

  26. Zac
    February 22nd, 2018 at 09:03 | #26

    @Danny Melnick (producer)

    I was wondering if you’ll be announcing the new concept for the amphitheater on this message board once it’s finalized?

    Thanks!

  27. Renoir’
    February 21st, 2018 at 11:54 | #27

    @Ernie Wilson
    The core elements… being allowed to bring in your own food and beverages, this is huge 🙂 counting down the days until June 23rd

  28. Ernie Wilson
    February 21st, 2018 at 09:18 | #28

    The festival like all things, has to evolve and change to survive. The Jazz Giants of old are all slowly leaving us.
    There are so many more festivals now then there was when this all started.
    I am all for trying new things to keep the festival fresh while retaining the core elements that make us all look forward to going every single year. I have been going for over 30 years now to this festival. Here is to 30 more.
    One thing I do agree with. I don’t know how I am ever going to ever embrace calling the gazebo the discovery stage. That wont be easy!

  29. Chuck
    February 20th, 2018 at 14:13 | #29

    I went through all the schedules from 1984 (when I first attended) and checked who was performing in the featured slots (I considered two each day). I was struck by how the following artists carried this role so often: David Sanborn (8), George Benson (7), Ray Charles (5), Spyro Gyra (4) and Grover Washington, Jr. (3). This year will be Chris Botti’s third time in a feature slot.

  30. Chuck
    February 20th, 2018 at 14:06 | #30

    @Joe l
    Right you are Joe, the reduction in Amphitheater acts has been considerable. From the onset in 1978 through 1996 the festival was noon to midnight both days with 9 acts on the main stage each day. From ’97 to ’99 there were either 8 or 9 acts each of the days. From 2000 through 2004 it went to 9 acts on Saturday and 8 acts on Sunday with an earlier closing time before 11:00 P.M. for Sunday. In ’05 and ’06 the schedule went to 8 acts on Saturday and 7 on Sunday with proportionally earlier closing times. From’07 through last year,’17, it lowered again to 7 acts on Sunday and 6 on Saturday. Now in ’18 we go to 5 and 4. We’ve gone from 18 main stage acts to 9. The Gazebo in the early years was 4 acts each day but with a longer than the traditional hour playing time. Since at least ’88 there have been 5 acts playing for an hour. The now eliminated policy of having one act each day play both stages started in ’99.

  31. jazzer
    February 20th, 2018 at 10:49 | #31

    Any details on the Saratoga Jazz Fest Friday that is supposed to take place downtown? How do local musicians participate in that?

  32. Joe l
    February 20th, 2018 at 09:46 | #32

    Please look at the 2001 lineup which had nine artists performing. The reply received is that this year’s is the same in the past. 4 on Sunday is half that list. I have attended all 40 events since the inaugural one in 1978 and this is the fewest lineup ever.

  33. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 20th, 2018 at 09:15 | #33

    @John
    All members should have been emailed by SPAC with on-sale info.

    Golden Patron +: 2/20 at 10am
    Patron: 2/21 at 10am
    Sponsor, Sustaining, Life: 2/23 at 10am
    Associate, Friend: 2/27 at 10am
    Public Onsale: 3/1 at 10am

  34. John
    February 19th, 2018 at 20:08 | #34

    First of all, I think the lineup looks fantastic this year, so great job on the booking!

    One question: when do Jazz Fest tickets go on sale to SPAC members? Unless I’ve missed it, I’m not seeing an exact time/date and it appears they’re not on sale yet. Thanks!

  35. Zac
    February 19th, 2018 at 16:06 | #35

    @Chuck

    Chuck seems to assume a whole bunch of things (financial trouble?!). I think the change Danny is alluding to sounds exciting. If you told me all the good southern bbq was leaving, or that you could no longer bring in your own cooler, or that security/policing would increase, or that there would be no second stage, or that the same 3 bartenders (for decades!) at the lounge were gone, or that ticket prices increased by a significant amount…..those would be some big negatives. Sounds to me like the producer is being creative while staying true to the Festival. I for one have been looking for something “new” for a few years, and I’m feeling very positive about this new plan. Also, thanks Danny for participating in this discussion board. We’re lucky to be able to connect with the person running the show. See ya this summer!

  36. Chuck
    February 19th, 2018 at 16:02 | #36

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    In the current climate of ever increasing artist/entertainment expense, spending the same amount of money as in the past inevitably will result in a diminution in the quantity and quality of talent. I do not consider this as a criticism of you. You, as we all do, have limitations but as a practical matter, spending the same amount of money in the aforementioned climate is a reduction in purchasing power.

  37. Chuck
    February 19th, 2018 at 15:51 | #37

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    Thank you for your response. However, it’s the “good feeling” of the customer that should prevail over that of the performer.

  38. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 19th, 2018 at 15:11 | #38

    @jazzngas
    I love you. 😉

    DM

  39. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 19th, 2018 at 15:09 | #39

    @Chuck
    Hi Chuck – Thanks so much for your comments. Folks will still be allowed to go into the amphitheater any time they want. The “program” idea we have is gonna be very appropriate for the hang there. It’s for “you.”

    And the change in programming has nothing to do with money. We FINALLY have a new stage and as a programmer, I am so excited about it. And the artists who played in early in the amphitheater saw thousands of empty seats and it wasn’t a good feeling. We are spending the same on artists as we have in the past. The 2nd “gazebo” set for the opening amphitheater has gone away, but the number of bands hasn’t changed.

    We felt it was time to freshen up a few things and I’m hoping it’ll make for a better overall experience. Thanks again – DM

  40. jazzngas
    February 19th, 2018 at 14:41 | #40

    @ Harvey Bernard Bloomfield.
    Sunday is anything but weak in my opinion . Jon Batiste playing with the Dap Kings could turn out the highlight of the weekend. The Dap Kings were Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones’s band. Gregory Porter’s baritone voice and engaging performance always delights. Mavis Staples is a legend. Her first Saratoga appearance is long overdue. TEN, an all star trio will be a special treat. Add the Jazz Discovery Stage to the mix and difficult choices will be made. An embarrassment of riches in my opinion.

  41. Chuck
    February 19th, 2018 at 14:34 | #41

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    The amphitheater was serving we who were sitting on the lawn listening to the early acts and intermittently attending in the theater. I hope you are not going replace the early acts and the quiet interludes between with a lot of noise that will spoil the lawn scene that we all so love.

    The other problem is that on the lawn and in the amphitheater blessed shade is available. Now you are shifting a larger portion of the entertainment into the sun blaster and oven that the Gazebo has become more and more over the recent years. That appears to be “the Discovery”. In the case of rain, the early amphitheater entertainment was also a positive.

    I understand that there are financial constraints that force the reduction of overall performance slots from 23 to 21. Through last year their were 13 acts on the main stage though 2 also played the Gazebo. Therefore the actual reduction in main stage performers is from 11 to 9 while increasing the Gazebo from 10 to 12. The Gazebo has its charms for many, I hope you don’t ruin them. As far as advising Steve that it’s not the Gazebo but the Discovery Stage, my experience is that it will have to earn its name and reputation by itself. More than anything the Gazebo/Discovery area needs shade and my guess is some increased crowd control in the way of access if it is going to get as big as you imply. The beauty of the Saratoga festival for the past 34 consecutive years that I have attended is the comfort. It is not the sun blasted death march that almost every other festival presents. Change can be good and is often necessary but try not to lose the best aspects of the festival in the process.

  42. Steve V.
    February 19th, 2018 at 14:28 | #42

    <Thank you for that update. Looking forward to this years festival…

  43. Zac
    February 19th, 2018 at 14:16 | #43

    @Danny Melnick (producer)

    Awesome news! I can’t wait to hear what’s in store for those few hours. My family and I have been coming since 1999 (with a couple exceptions). I’m only 36 and this will be my 15th SPAC Jazz Fest. Many more to come. 🙂 Keep up the good work!!

  44. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 19th, 2018 at 14:07 | #44

    @Steve V.
    Hi Steve – We have the same # of artists performing as we have had for many years. The new “gazebo” stage – it’s not a gazebo anymore so we are no longer using that name – has given us an opportunity to book some “larger” groups and “bigger” artists and use it a true 2nd main stage. The amphitheater has been sparsely attended during the early hours and it wasn’t serving anyone – the artists, the audience or the festival overall. We are going to move the crafts tent a bit to create more space for the audience at the Discovery Stage and we are going to add something very cool for the first few hours of the day before the amphitheater gets going. We’ll be making that announcement soon. We are hoping this new schedule will allow the festival to have more of an exciting impact throughout the weekend. DM

  45. Kenya
    February 19th, 2018 at 13:47 | #45

    LINEUP GETS WEAKER EVERY YEAR
    BEEN COMING OVER 35 YEARS AND EVERY YEAR LESS PEOPLE ATTEND! AND NOT ALOT OF NEW FOLK WHATS UP WITH BOOKING💔

  46. Steve V.
    February 19th, 2018 at 13:28 | #46

    What’s with the time changes? Gazebo starts at 11am, both days? Amphitheater 3pm?!?!?!

  47. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 19th, 2018 at 11:52 | #47

    Few updates – Quiana Lynell and Roland Guerin will not be with Evan Christopher. He is working on replacements now.

    And the proper billing for the TEN group will just be (no Trio):

    TEN: Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Nicholas Payton

    Best DM

  48. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 19th, 2018 at 11:07 | #48

    @Harvey Bernard Bloomfield
    Hi Harvey – firstly, thanks for your longtime dedication to the festival. I know everyone has a million other choices. More than half of the artists this year have never performed on the festival. Lakecia Benjamin is a dynamic “smooth” R&B/soul artist who will knock everyone out. Scott Sharrard is a blazing blues guitarist who has been Gregg Allman’s lead guitarist, music director and Grammy Award nominated co-writer. Of course, Jose James singing Bill Withers is as soulful and R&B as you can get. And we are bringing back Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, who blew everyone away last year. And Pedrito Martinez is coming back with a new project – a duet with Cuban piano master Alfredo Rodriguez. These artists are all important contemporary voices in music and are becoming the next headliners. Best DM

  49. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 19th, 2018 at 11:01 | #49

    @Joe l
    Hi Joe – this is the complete line-up. We will have the same # of artists as in the past. There will be 6 sets on the newly named “Discovery” stage each day, starting at 11am (gates 10am both days now), and the amphitheater will begin at 3pm each day. We will announce, at a later date, a special new element to the festival for the hours leading up to 3pm as well. Best DM

  50. Harvey Bernard Bloomfield
    February 19th, 2018 at 09:30 | #50

    For me this is first a weekend getaway to start the summer and I been attending since the 70’s but this time a little disappointed in the program having seen these artists in previous festivals. Sat is a strong day but in my opinion Sunday is weaker. I would have like some artist from the smooth jazz world, R & B, Blues, Latin Jazz etc

  51. Joe l
    February 19th, 2018 at 00:19 | #51

    Will there be more artists performing than listed already?

  52. jazzngas
    February 18th, 2018 at 18:59 | #52

    Incredible lineup! This one will be memorable. Fantastic job, Danny!!!

  53. Gathan Waters
    February 14th, 2018 at 21:05 | #53

    Last year was my 1st time at the festival.I enjoyed everything. So looking forward to this year

  54. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 14th, 2018 at 13:14 | #54

    @Anonymous
    I tried! They’ll be in Morocco that weekend.

  55. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 14th, 2018 at 13:13 | #55

    Happy Valentine’s Day everybody – We are announcing the line-up on Sunday! SPAC member tickets will be available through the rest of the month and the public on sale is March 1 at 10am at spac.org.

    New $20 amphitheater ticket options are available for children ages 15 and under and students with school-issued ID at time of entrance. Lawn remains free for children ages 15 and under.

    See y’all there!

    Best – DM

  56. john E. price Jr.
    February 14th, 2018 at 08:27 | #56

    Hey Dan. I always find time to send my best wishes to you and yours for the upcoming “HANG” 2018. I know how hard it is to please everyone. So all I say is, you haven’t let us down yet. Keep on doing your thing and I’m sure we’ll be satisfied. PEACE !!!!

  57. Anonymous
    February 13th, 2018 at 16:06 | #57

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    How about snarky Puppy

  58. Joseph Aaron
    February 13th, 2018 at 11:31 | #58

    Hopefully nobody will complain about the lineup when it does come out and just appreciate Danny’s hard work and balancing act. I seem to remember some were not happy last year. So far things looking great

  59. Jim Smith
    February 9th, 2018 at 03:56 | #59

    Any jazz fest that begins with Joey Alexander and Anat Cohen is off to an excellent start, Danny. Weary of winter, we are really looking forward to June, and our favorite annual music event!

  60. Staci Staxx
    February 6th, 2018 at 22:19 | #60

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    Can’t wait ! Thanks Danny

  61. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 6th, 2018 at 12:36 | #61

    @Michele Weight
    Hi Michele – we should be announcing the festival within the next two weeks and going on sale soon after that. I’ll update everyone here. Best DM

  62. john E. price Jr.
    February 5th, 2018 at 10:41 | #62

    On behalf of the gang from the Rte 50 – 5:30 am crew. Big thanx for all you do Dan. You always have sumtin’ up. Just keep servin’ that “EARFOOD”.

    See ya SOON !!!! PEACE !!!

  63. Michele Weight
    February 5th, 2018 at 07:43 | #63

    When do tickets go on sale?

  64. phil
    February 4th, 2018 at 12:12 | #64

    I am glad you have 2 great performers so far. I am looking forward to find out who the rest of the lineup are

  65. Danny Melnick (producer)
    February 3rd, 2018 at 14:29 | #65

    Hi Friends – we are going to announce the line-up within the next 2-3 weeks. Just putting the finishing touches on a few things. Thanks for your patience and continued interest. Always means spring and summer are on the way! Best DM

  66. DJ Jazzy Joe
    February 2nd, 2018 at 11:45 | #66

    @Ray Luhrs
    I saw that SPAC is announcing their classical lineup (Philadelphia Orchestra) on Sunday. I haven’t seen anything about jazzfest yet though. Hopefully they announce it soon.

  67. Ray Luhrs
    February 1st, 2018 at 21:41 | #67

    Will the lineup be in this Sunday’s edition of the Albany Times Union ? It’s February

    Just excited 🙂

  68. Donald
    January 30th, 2018 at 14:31 | #68

    My wife and I saw Joey Alexander a couple of years ago in Saratoga and he was fantastic. Looking forward to seeing him perform this summer.