Detailed Saturday 2015 Lineup with Artist Biographies

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Saturday Lineup – June 27th


  • Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly (9:20 – close)
    • Venerated for honest, raw soul music, Maze has delighted music lovers world wide for over 40 years. SPAC welcomes the musicians of Maze, whose emotionally vibrant musicality and brilliantly sensitive artistry has allowed them to continue to headline at top concert venues across the globe. There are no gimmicks or stage tricks in their shows, just Beverly with his smooth, soulful vocals supported by the tight Maze band. At Saratoga Jazz Fest, Maze will play from their large catalog of classic hits, including Happy Feelings, Lady of Magic, While I Am Alone, and Workin’ Together.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Cassandra Wilson celebrates Billie Holiday (7:20 – 8:35)
    • Cassandra Wilson returns to SPAC for her first appearance in a decade as she celebrates Billie Holiday’s 100th Birthday. Wilson will perform repertoire from her upcoming album to be released on Holiday’s centennial, commemorating Holiday’s prestigious career. Named America’s Best Singer by Time Magazine, she has been described as “Soulful, sensual and lyrical, she’s carrying on the tradition of great jazz vocalists.” A two-time GRAMMY Award winning artist and DownBeat Magazine’s “Jazz Vocalist of the Year” for three consecutive years, Wilson is considered by many to be the most talented jazz singer alive today.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Al DiMeola Electric Band (5:40 – 6:55)
    • This virtuoso jazz guitarist makes his Saratoga return with his newly-formed Electric Band, performing music from his landmark albums, Elegant Gypsy, Casino, Electric Rendevous and others for the first time in 35 years. His fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation, combined with provocative lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony, has made him a leader of jazz fusion since the 1970’s. At SPAC, Di Meola is poised to move audiences with his dizzying speed and passionate playing.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Christian McBride Big Band (4:10 – 5:15)
    • A Saratoga favorite, McBride returns for his fifth Jazz Festival appearance and his third as a leader. Bassist extraordinaire, composer, arranger, educator, curator and administrator, McBride has been one of the most important and influential figures in the jazz world for 20 years. The New York Times hailed McBride’s artistry, calling “the deep, dark-maple tone that he elicits from an upright bass… one of jazz’s forthright pleasures.” This performance marks the debut of his heralded Big Band on the SPAC stage.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • The Pedrito Martinez Group (2:45 – 3:45)
    • 2015 GRAMMY nominee Pedrito Martinez is a Cuban-born vocalist and percussionist, master of Afro-Cuban folkloric music, and the world’s first-call rumbero. His infectious charisma will light up SPAC’s main stage as he wows audiences with his athletic musicality. Martinez is the winner of the Thelonious Monk Award for Afro-Latin Hand Percussion in 2000; the 2014 Sphinx Metal of Excellence; the 2014 Jazz Journalist Association “Percussionist of the Year;” the 2014 Modern Drummer Readers Poll #1 “Percussionist of the Year;” and one of DownBeat Magazine’s “80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today.” This performance will be the Group’s third festival appearance.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express (1:20 – 2:20)
    • In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has built a reputation bridging the worlds of American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica. Alexander returns to SPAC for the first time since 1996, this time with his Harlem-Kingston Express band, to perform in support of their most recent album, Harlem-Kingston Express: Live! The album was nominated for a 2012 GRAMMY Award and saw number one ratings on both jazz and world-music charts simultaneously. Alexander also continues his solo career as a pianist. Notably, American singer and icon Tony Bennett personally invited Alexander to record as the featured pianist on his 2008 Christmas album, A Swinging Christmas, with the Count Basie Orchestra. In 2012, Alexander received the Caribbean American Heritage Luminary Award from the Institute of Caribbean Studies in Washington, D.C.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Theo Croker (noon – 1:00)
    • Noted trumpet player and bandleader Theo Croker, grandson of jazz legend Doc Cheatham and known by his fans as “the AfroPhysicist,” will bring his internationally celebrated “Miles-ian timbre” (JazzTimes) to his SPAC debut. Croker will play selections from his critically acclaimed 2014 album, The AfroPhysicist. His musical training has taken him from Jacksonville, Florida to Oberlin, Ohio to Shanghai, China to New York City, allowing him to develop his unique style that incorporates elements of salsa, rock, R&B, blues, and hip-hop. Donald Byrd said of Croker, “I would place Theo in a class of musicians who will redirect the flow, change and alter the current of today’s New Jazz.”
    • Also appearing on the Gazebo Stage
    • listen to Rdio stream


  • Mike LeDonne Groover Quartet (6:00 – 7:05)
    • featuring Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, and Joe Farnsworth
    • When Mike LeDonne plays the Hammond B3 organ, the instrument sings with the raw soul of the human voice. LeDonne and his Groover Quartet have been distinguished by The New York Times as a “fixture” of the New York jazz scene. Making their SPAC debut, the Quartet promises to get audiences grooving to the beat as they play jazz, swing, and soul classics from their legendary Tuesday night gig at the famous New York jazz club, Smoke.
    • listen to Rdio Stream
  • Theo Croker (4:40 – 5:40)
  • Duchess (3:10- 4:15)
    • featuring Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, and Melissa Stylianou
    • A new vocal trio in the great tradition of the Boswell Sisters, Duchess has grown quickly as one of the up and coming jazz ensembles of the greater New York City region. Showcasing their signature girl-on-girl harmonies, the ladies of Duchess will perform beloved jazz classics from their recently released album Duchess, featuring hits by jazz favorites ranging from Gershwin to Johnny Mercer. The three women each have considerable individual followings: Cervini and Stylianou have both been included in DownBeat Magazine’s Critics’ Poll category “Rising-Star Vocalist,” and Gardner was the female vocalist and Frank Sinatra’s virtual duet partner in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away. As a trio, these female powerhouses and their tight harmonies have taken New York by storm.
  • Steve Wilson and Wilsonian’s Grain (1:40 – 2:45)
    • featuring Orrin Evans, Ugonna Okegwo, and Bill Stewart
    • Steve Wilson leads an exciting collaboration of some of the most highly regarded artists in today’s jazz landscape. His quartet Wilsonian’s Grain, headliners at the prestigious Detroit Jazz Festival in 2011, has been featured on NPR live from the Kennedy Center and the Village Vanguard in New York City. Wilson had been recognized by NPR as “a complete musician, technically and imaginatively… a musician of honesty within the vast field of mainstream post-bop, but never constrained by its parameters.” The quartet will play in support of their upcoming album Steve Wilson & Wilsonian’s Grain Live in New York: The Vanguard Sessions, to be released on March 24, 2015 by Random Act Records.
    • listen to Rdio stream (new release: March 24, 2015)
  • Omer Avital Quartet (12:15 – 1:20)
    • Making his SPAC debut, Omer Avital is a composer, virtuosic bassist, oud player, and leader of the world-music genre. He has been hailed by the LA Times as “a pioneer in combining jazz with myriad world-music elements.” In 2008, Avital was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award, the most prestigious distinction for artists in Israel. His work seeks to create a sound that is highly individual, yet instantly recognizable — the essence of Israel with all its contradictions and beauty. The New York Times has commented, “Mr. Avital and his group are producing some of the most original music being heard in New York.”
    • listen to Rdio stream

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One reply on “Detailed Saturday 2015 Lineup with Artist Biographies”

Does any one have a copy of the paper program from the Jazz fest. I need to do a concert report for school and I misplaced my program?

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