2012 Lineup

December 23rd, 2015

Saratoga Performing Arts Center exterior photo

The 2012 Festival took place on Saturday June 30th and Sunday July 1st, 2012 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY USA.


Saturday – June 30th


  • noon - 1:00: Mario Abney
  • 1:20 - 2:20: Christian McBride
  • 2:40 - 3:45: Michel Camilo with conguero Giovanni Hidalgo and bassist Charles Flores
  • 4:10 - 5:20: Mingus Big Band – celebrating the music of composer/bassist Charles Mingus
  • 5:50 - 7:00: Esperanza Spalding
  • 7:30 - 8:45: Chris Botti
  • 9:15 -10:30: Maceo Parker

Gazebo Stage

  • 12:15 - 1:15: Hailey Niswanger
  • 1:35 - 2:35: Jeremy Pelt Quintet
  • 2:55 - 3:55: Catherine Russell
  • 4:15 - 5:15: Mario Abney & The Abney Effect
  • 5:35 - 6:45: Pedrito Martinez

Sunday – July 1st


Gazebo Stage

  • 12:15 - 1:15: Edmar Castaneda
  • 1:35 - 2:35: Sachal Vasandani
  • 3:00 - 4:00: Steve Kroon Sextet
  • 4:25 - 5:25: Trio of Oz featuring Omar Hakim & Rachel Z
  • 5:45 - 6:55: Brian Mitchell Band

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

  1. dorothy
    February 27th, 2013 at 07:16 | #1

    Greg – you didn’t find her “diva” conduct just the tiniest bit annoying? if it wasn’t for the fans wanting to see her, she would not be invited to perform!

    ps – totally agree with your comments about Diana Krall. sounds like too much xanax.

  2. Greg
    February 5th, 2013 at 09:59 | #2

    You lose credibility when you praise Diana Krall’s formulaic, slow and unoriginal approach to jazz, and criticize Esperanza for her “banal patter”, whatever that means. Her music isn’t for everyone, but she is far more talented than Diana Krall. I found her set to be fantastic.

  3. Danny Melnick (producer)
    December 18th, 2012 at 23:35 | #3

    Hello Friends – we are 95% done with the booking process and we just announced our first artist, as part of SPAC’s “Building of a Season” announcement process. She is the incredibly amazing vocalist Carmen Souza, from Portugal. She will perform on the gazebo stage on Saturday, June 29. Learn more about her here: http://www.spac.org/buildingofaseason/souza.php More artists will be announced soon, including some of our headliners. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and peaceful and healthy new year. Even though the last few months have been very challenging with the storm and the tragedy in CT, we are blessed and grateful. All my best to you all – Danny Melnick

  4. Jazz concert attendee
    December 6th, 2012 at 22:18 | #4

    If you really want a rocking jazz concert that will bring out very happy and appreciative jazz enthusiasts, SPAC should invite: Paul Taylor; Mike Phillips; Boney James; Najee; Ronny Jordan; Dave Koz; Kim Waters; Marcus Miller; Candy Dulfur. That would be an excellent concert and worth every nickel!

  5. Larry Vogel
    November 28th, 2012 at 12:54 | #5

    Hi, Danny,

    Do you know of a drummer graduating from Juilliard this year: Jimmy Macbride?? He’s from West Hartford, CT and would be great on the small stage. He surrounds himself with some of New York’s young best players. I especially enjoyed hearing him with a quartet called 4Core.



  6. Danny Melnick (producer)
    November 4th, 2012 at 17:26 | #6

    @John Gilligan

    Hi John – thanks for the kind words on this past year’s festival. We are working hard on next year’s and will start to announce some artists soon. We will never be able to get Frankie or Stevie as their fees are too high for our budgets.

    I am very concerned about how everyone is doing this week. We have a lot of fans from LI, NJ, NYC, etc. I have an apartment on the beach on Long Beach, LI. It is amazingly and luckily fine but the town is severely damaged and it will be take us a long while to get back to some kind or normalcy.

    Please know that SPAC and Absolutely Live are thinking about all our audience members and hope everyone is OK.

    All my best – Danny Melnick

  7. John Gilligan
    October 31st, 2012 at 10:54 | #7

    I LOVED the 2012 Festival and think it was the best one I’ve seen in years. Hiromi and Chris Botti were my favorites.
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider Mr. Stevie Wonder for a headline act? I’d like to see Frankie Beverly and Maze as well.
    Keep up the great work!!!

  8. Chuck
    September 3rd, 2012 at 18:04 | #8

    @Rhonda Robinson
    Lizz Wright has played Saratoga three times. Most recently last year, 2011, when she did the “Sing the Truth” set with Dianne Reeves and Angelique Kidjo. She sang on the main stage in 2005 and at the Gazebo in 2003. But it would be olay again. I love the lady vocalists.

  9. Rhonda Robinson
    July 30th, 2012 at 15:06 | #9


    What about having Liz Wright perform,saw her in Jamestown a few years ago, and she is truly amazing…

  10. Romona
    July 6th, 2012 at 09:55 | #10

    I wasnt a huge fan of the line up.. But I was pleasantly surprised by Trombone Shorty. His performance made it worth dealing with the heat. Cant wait til next year..

  11. Chuck
    July 4th, 2012 at 12:13 | #11

    @Danny Melnick (producer)
    More blues: Tedechi Trucks, Dave Alvin, Jimmy Vaughn, John Hiatt. Some African: Richard Bona, Johnny Clegg. Some Brazil: Ivan Lins, Vinicius Cantuaria. Cabaret: Any. Jazz: Patricia Barber, Dena DeRose. Good luck.

  12. Chuck
    July 4th, 2012 at 09:59 | #12

    Chris Botti, Trombone Shorty and Diana Krall carried the days at the main stage. However, almost all of the acts there were good. Only one clunker, Esperanza Spalding’s weird and annoying music and banal patter were excruciating. Sad, I had enjoyed her at the Gazebo a few years ago. I didn’t spend much time at the Gazebo this year due to the heat and sun but four members of our group praised the Catherine Russell set. Hardly any blues this year but musically, it was the strongest Freihofer Fest in years. The food quality and options deteriorated a little but was not a significant factor. Thanks to all for putting on a great festival. See you next year which will be my 30th consecutive year.

  13. July 2nd, 2012 at 23:17 | #13

    To all of you who read this page and attended the 35th annual celebration — THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! We had an amazing weekend and the festival was a huge success. The biggest attendance in over 15 years. I am already making my lists for next year and appreciate all the suggestions. Stay in touch and have a wonderful, happy and healthy year! See you June 29 & 30, 2013. Best – Danny

  14. JS
    July 2nd, 2012 at 19:45 | #14

    Just thought about a few more artist to consider, Rachelle Farrell and Fourplay

  15. JS
    July 2nd, 2012 at 19:40 | #15

    We really enjoyed the Festival. The Big Bands were phenomenal. Mingus and Arturo O’Farill. Esperanza Spaulding’s performance was a little lackluster. I have seen her several times where she performed much better. We attended the Capitol Jazz Festival this year also and enjoyed it as well. However, SPAC is a far superior venue, the jazz fans truly appreciate the music more at SPAC and the artists play “real” Jazz !! We thoroughly enjoyed the festival again. We have attended at lease 20 Festivals over the years. How about booking Eric Alexander ? He is phenomenal and the crowd would love him ! Sonny Rollins, Joe Sample, Hiroshima would be great also !

  16. George
    July 1st, 2012 at 20:20 | #16

    Can’t believe it’s over so soon. Hiromi was excellent.

  17. Joe
    July 1st, 2012 at 17:17 | #17

    Final two acts of the jazz fest, why does this have to end?

  18. Joe
    June 30th, 2012 at 22:57 | #18

    Day one was a great success, looking forward to another tomorrow!

  19. June 28th, 2012 at 08:05 | #19

    I’m up in Saratoga and it’s beautiful here. We are really excited for this weekend and the weather should be just as hot as the music! Hope to see y’all here for the 35th!

  20. June 13th, 2012 at 14:59 | #20

    And we just posted the set times:


  21. June 13th, 2012 at 14:51 | #21
  22. June 8th, 2012 at 21:20 | #22

    I’m hosting a “Live Chat” on the Saratogian website on Friday at 12 noon. Please join me!


  23. June 7th, 2012 at 22:10 | #23

    I can’t believe the festival is 3 weeks away. We are working real hard on all the advance production work and ticket sales are very strong. We are really excited! We’re putting together our own new CD sales booth as Border’s is no longer in biz and SPAC has a new outer facade, new speakers and new video. We’ll be announcing the set times soon but I can tell you that we are closing each night with a funky dance party – Maceo Parker on Saturday and Trombone Shorty on Sunday. I saw Shorty at the Mountain Jam festival at Hunter Mountain on Sunday and he blew the place apart. Thanks to all of you and look forward to seeing you in a few weeks. Sunshine and bright skies!!! Best – Danny

  24. Jim
    May 8th, 2012 at 03:08 | #24

    Happy impending birthday, Doraine.

  25. Doraine
    April 22nd, 2012 at 01:57 | #25

    I love that I found this jazz festival that is always on my Birthday Weekend. I turn 60 this year and I look and feel like 30. So blessed to enjoy friends hear jazz , eat and drink lots!!
    Can’t believe my girl Esperanza is coming She is SOOOO Gifted

  26. April 18th, 2012 at 11:23 | #26

    SPAC wants your videos!

    We are collecting videos from fans about why they love the Saratoga Jazz Festival. Go to the link below and tell us why you love the Jazz Fest, a favorite memory, how long you’ve been going to the festival, who you are looking forward to and why, anything! We are creating the ultimate video mash-up that we will play on the new video screens at the festival this year.

    For more information go to:


  27. March 25th, 2012 at 16:19 | #27

    Hi Friends – If you’re in NYC this coming week, two of our returning gazebo artists are performing at Jazz @ Lincoln Center. The wonderful male vocalist, Sachal Vasandani, will be Dizzy’s club from Tuesday through Sunday. And the incredible female vocalist, Catherine Russell, will be in the Allen Room Friday & Saturday nights. Check out http://jalc.org/concerts/c_calendar09.asp for info and enjoy some great jazz as we jump into spring! All my best – Danny

  28. March 17th, 2012 at 08:21 | #28

    NY Times feature on Espe & her new album, which she’ll perform on June 30 at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival!


  29. March 16th, 2012 at 16:53 | #29

    For those of you in the NYC area and want a little taste of the jazz fest now, the great percussionist Steve Kroon will be leading his Latin sextet at The Jazz Standard club on Thursday, March 22. Two shows – 7:30 & 9:30pm. Great band, great food. They’ll be returning to the festival for an encore performance on Sunday, July 1.

  30. Christmas in June
    March 14th, 2012 at 16:49 | #30

    No disrespect intended Romona. I don’t think the Capital event even comes close to Saratoga’s 35 anniversary show. Most of the big names at Capital have performed at SPAC
    in the past except KC and the Sunshine Band, and I’m happy for that. Danny has put together a bill that exudes class and excitement and having no smooth act is just fine with me. There is nothing wrong with what Capital is doing but in my opinion Saratoga is “Miles” ahead!

  31. Romona
    March 14th, 2012 at 16:03 | #31

    Did anyone see the lineup for the Capital Jazz Festival in Md this June? Now that is a lineup..

    [The 2012 Capital Jazz Festival takes place June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is 28 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. and 18 miles southwest of Baltimore. You may be interested in the lineup.
    — edit by Admin 3/14/2012 5:24pm]

  32. Christmas in June
    March 12th, 2012 at 16:52 | #32

    Congratulations Danny and a heartfelt thank you for the line up you put together this year. The 35th may just turn out to be one of the best ever! My biggest problem will be choosing who to miss and catching my breath stage hopping.

  33. j.s. burke
    March 7th, 2012 at 15:01 | #33

    I’ve been coming to the “jazz festival” since 1978. Can’t wait !!!

  34. Danny Melnick (producer)
    March 4th, 2012 at 14:58 | #34

    Hi Friends – wanted to share this with you – Hailey Niswanger, who will return to the festival and perform with her band on Saturday, June 30, recently graduated from the Berklee College of Music. She has started a kickstarter campaign in order to raise money for her next recording. The info is here: http://kck.st/wluJP5

  35. Danny Melnick (producer)
    March 2nd, 2012 at 09:52 | #35

    Hi Friends – great piece on Esperanza’s new album. She will perform this music at the festival on June 30:


  36. February 22nd, 2012 at 18:50 | #36

    We have had an artist change for the gazebo stage already. Sarah Morrow got a really nice offer to perform at a private event in Ohio hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and can’t make the festival. I am going to present her on the 2013 festival for sure.

    So the new artist for Saturday, June 30 on the gazebo will be saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, who performed there in 2010. She recently graduated the Berklee College of Music and has a new CD coming out in April.

  37. February 21st, 2012 at 15:07 | #37

    Hi Friends – check out this news!


  38. Joe
    February 19th, 2012 at 07:33 | #38

    Im looking forward to this lineup. Very happy to see Hiromi play the fest again.

  39. February 19th, 2012 at 00:06 | #39

    This is the final artist list! All of the artists on the Gazebo stage have been there within the past 8 years and we brought them back for our first ever “Encore Series” as a “thank you” as so many festival fans have asked us to ‘bring back’ some of the great gazebo artists we’ve showcased at the festival.

  40. Jim
    February 17th, 2012 at 10:18 | #41

    “Just the Yellowjackets,” PRod? Perhaps you didn’t notice that MACEO is on the bill? And Esperanza Spalding? Have you listened to The Trio of Oz? Make that the astonishingly good Trio of Oz. Rachel Z kicks ass! And what about Mario Abney, who knocked me out the last time he appeared at the fest?

    You need to expand your musical horizons!

    I would agree that the bill doesn’t feel complete yet. But, come on! The line-up, as it stands, is WAY more than “just the Yellowjackets” who, quite frankly, I haven’t listened to in years.

  41. PRod
    February 13th, 2012 at 14:26 | #42

    I truly hope the line up is better than last year 2011…It was a great disappointment…As I read some of the line up this coming year….I don’t think it’s that great…just the Yellowjackets …the Capital Jazz festival can give you a better way to produce…..

  42. Anonymous
    February 11th, 2012 at 17:04 | #43

    How about John Cocuzzi? Just saw him @ NCJF he was awesome Diana Bogart They both sing and play many Instruments!!!

  43. Karen D
    February 11th, 2012 at 13:21 | #44

    How about Larry Carlton and Chick Corea.

  44. February 11th, 2012 at 10:15 | #45

    Hi Friends – we are announcing the complete line-up next Sunday, Feb. 19. I think there will be a nice feature in the Albany Times-Union that day and all the info will be out by Monday, Feb. 20.

  45. phil r
    February 10th, 2012 at 18:30 | #46

    I absolutely love Mingus and Spalding. She is one fantastic singer and bass player. Chris Botti is great and I expect to be ther as always since I live nearby. Saratoga jazz Rocks!!

  46. Nick Carter
    February 6th, 2012 at 17:35 | #47

    I thought this was a JAZZ Festival?
    Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater are REAL Jazz Artists. I like Patti LaBelle and Stevie Wonder but they are NOT jazz artists and I’d be disappointed if they were there. Looking forward to a great festival!

  47. Fred Wilson
    February 5th, 2012 at 14:51 | #48

    Herbie Hancock would be outrageous, George Duke, Phil Perry also rocks. Spanish Harlem Orchestra was hot a few years ago they would be great to return. Return to forever would be fly. Dee Dee Bridgewater can flat out sing.

  48. Alma
    February 5th, 2012 at 11:42 | #49

    Thanks for the heads-up on the lineup ! As 30 year veterans of this awesome event, we are looking forward to our annual summer kick-off. it’s nice to know that the musicians onboard so far are looking fabulous.

  49. Dunzy
    January 29th, 2012 at 22:23 | #50

    Milo z (NYC Blues/Funk/Jazz) would tear it up at the Gazebo. They have gigged at the Parting Glass Pub.

    Ronny Jordan cancelled one year, but would be GREAT

  50. Gigi
    January 29th, 2012 at 21:05 | #51

    Lalah Hathaway would be an excellent addition, if not HEADLINER, for 2012.

  51. Guy Cameron
    January 29th, 2012 at 19:25 | #52

    I had the chance to see Spyro Gyra and Jeff Lorber Fusion recently. Both would be a great addition to the lineup.

  52. Guy Cameron
    January 29th, 2012 at 19:23 | #53

    I would love to see Fourplay at Saratoga.

  53. Bev
    January 27th, 2012 at 14:40 | #54

    Stevie Wonder is WONDERFUL in concert!!!

  54. mary k.
    January 24th, 2012 at 18:38 | #55

    BRING BACK GLADYS! SHE WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And i agree with the sonny rollins suggestion! What are you waiting for saratoga????? and p.s. last year’s lineup was terrible. we are expecting bigger and better things this year!

  55. erin
    January 17th, 2012 at 12:32 | #56

    Roy Ayers would be a great headliner! Also, I think KJ Denhert who has been most recently at the 55 Bar in NYC and at Smoke would be a great act for the gazebo. This will be my 25th year, my husband’s 24th, our 18-year old daughter’s nineteenth year and my 13-year-old daughter’s fourteenth year. They love love love the festival , and Saratoga has become a summer home for a family from Pennsylvania. You do a great job. Thank you.

  56. Ken
    January 15th, 2012 at 20:36 | #57

    Dan, I hope that it will blow us a way this year…I’m going to hold you to your word.

  57. January 14th, 2012 at 16:52 | #58

    The festival will certainly include some major vocalists, soul artists, Latin, blues and more. We are basically done booking the festival and announcing a little bit each week. Full line-up will be announced in mid to late February. I am confident it will blow everyone away.

  58. George
    January 13th, 2012 at 17:04 | #59

    As any veteran of the festival knows, this lineup is far from complete! I appreciate that they announce things this far in advance, even though the lineup isn’t filled out yet, compared to the old way of revealing the lineup in its entirety later in the year. I strongly suspect that vocalists will be added to the lineup as more artists are announced.

    Romona :
    no vocalist as of yet are on the venue..

  59. Romona
    January 13th, 2012 at 16:22 | #60

    apparently they have no clue how to book artist and are not listening to any suggestions. no vocalist as of yet are on the venue..

  60. Nora
    January 10th, 2012 at 18:39 | #61


    Randy Crawford is also another on my list of favorites !!!!

  61. I. Taylor
    January 10th, 2012 at 13:09 | #62

    I’d love to see Harry Connick Jr. and Naturally 7.

  62. Gary DeBaise
    January 6th, 2012 at 14:52 | #63

    I would LOVE to see Sonny Rollins. This will be my 10th straight year and he has yet to appear on the lineup. Lets get him before its to late.

  63. P. LEW
    January 4th, 2012 at 16:46 | #64

    The Boston Crew always enjoy the festival. We would like to see Randy Crawford and/or Pieces of a Dream. See you there.

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