Detailed Sunday 2015 Lineup with Artist Biographies

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Sunday Lineup – June 28th


  • Shiela E (8:55 – 10:10)
    • This world-class drummer and percussionist’s credits read like chapters in a music history book: Ringo Starr, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan and George Duke. Sheila E. is the GRAMMY Award-nominated singer/songwriter behind the seminal hits The Glamorous Life and A Love Bizarre. She was the first female music director for a late night talk show, “The Magic Hour” with Magic Johnson, and received an Emmy nomination as music director for “Fiesta Latina – A Performance at The White House.” Sheila E. was recently among the roster of stars chosen to perform at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors whose honorees included artists Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel and Carlos Santana. Making her SPAC debut, Sheila E. will play favorites from her 2014 autobiographical album, Icon, as well as her previous collaborations with some of the world’s most beloved musicians.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Erykah Badu (7:10 – 8:25)
    • Erykah Badu’s lengthy career has included pioneering work in establishing neo-soul in the modern age, drawing comparisons to Billie Holiday for her smooth, passionate vocals. Winner of four GRAMMY Awards and nominated for 15 others, Ms. Badu’s work includes five widely-praised studio albums and a live recording. Her acting career includes a role in the critically-acclaimed film The Cider House Rules, for which she garnered a Screen Actors Guild nomination and a 2000 Black Reel Award. As a member of neo-soul and hip-hop collective Soulquarians she worked with artists including Questlove, Common, and Mos Def; other collaborations to which she has lent her voice include projects with Macy Gray, Sérgio Mendes and, The Roots, Jill Scott, Wu-Tang Clan, Rick Ross, and Tyler the Creator. In her SPAC debut, Erykah Badu will show off her impressive vocal abilities on hits from throughout her nearly two-decade career.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Snarky Puppy (5:30 – 6:40)
    • The 2014 GRAMMY Award winners have gone from a best-kept secret to the standard-bearers for a new movement in jazz. The band has earned high praise from critical stalwarts like the BBC, Village Voice, Guardian, and Boston Herald, and has performed at some of the best venues and festivals in Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America. Their 2014 album, We Like It Here debuted at number one on the iTunes Jazz charts across the world and won the “Best New Artist” and “Best Electric/Jazz-Rock/Contemporary Group/Artist” categories in JazzTimes Magazine’s annual readers’ poll. At their SPAC debut, Snarky Puppy will play selections from their award winning catalog, as well as material from the second volume of their GRAMMY award winning Family Dinner series.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters (4:00 – 5:00)
    • Appearing at the festival in 2014 for the first time since 1997, guitarist Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters will return to SPAC in 2015 due to massive audience feedback from the group’s appearance last year. Earl is considered a New England blues guitar legend—a staple on the local blues circuit for years, having received praise from blues masters such as B.B. King and Muddy Waters.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Head of State (2:40 – 3:40)
    • featuring Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams, and Al Foster
    • The Saratoga Jazz Festival welcomes Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams, and Al Foster—four of the greatest jazz musicians working today. Together, they are an unforgettable, cooperative quartet currently preparing for their first recording as a group for Smoke Sessions Records. Jazziz has called Gary Bartz a “remarkable saxophonist who can easily recall the more lyrical moments of John Coltrane or the R&B stylings of players like Hank Crawford”; Larry Willis is “the greatest pianist you’ve never heard of” according to TimeOut NY; The New Yorker names Buster Williams “a paragon of post-bop bass playing”; and TimeOut NY also states that Al Foster’s “brilliant timekeeping encompasses the best of the old and new school.”
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Django Festival All-Stars (1:20 – 2:20)
    • including Samsom Schmitt, Pierre Blanchard, and Ludovic Beier
    • Making their SPAC debut, this “hot-swing” quintet will bring the legacy of the brilliant gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt to Saratoga. Their performance will celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Django Reinhardt NY Festival at famed New York City jazz club Birdland. The All-Stars include internationally celebrated French jazz musicians Samsom Schmitt, Pierre Blanchard and Ludovic Beier. The Wall Street Journal praises the All-Stars as “The Best Jazz Show In Town… Imagine a stage filled with contemporary Django Reinhardt descendants and you’ll get a sense that the collective talent pool on the bandstand is larger than the Arc de Triomphe!”
  • Etienne Charles (noon – 1:00)
    • Making his festival debut, Charles is a band leader, recording artist, composer, arranger, and Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University. Still only in his 20s, he has recorded three impressive and well-received albums that showcase his own Caribbean-roots informed jazz style. His most recent album, Creole Soul, is a captivating journey of new jazz expression. The New York Times calls Charles “one of [jazz’s] more ambitious soloists and composers,” JazzTimes applauds him as a “daring improviser” and DownBeat Magazine celebrates his tone as “melodically captivating” and “rhythmically agile” making his music “immediately pleasing.”
    • Also appearing on the Gazebo Stage
    • listen to Rdio stream


  • Sonny Knight & The Lakers (5:40 – 6:50)
    • Just returned from their 2014 World Tour, Sonny Knight and the Lakers will delight SPAC audiences with repertoire from their 2014 debut album, I’m Still Here, covering a wide range of tempos and soul forms. Knight’s exuberant, energetic vocals and cheerful charisma defy his 65 years of age and decade long absence from the music industry. NPR praises the band, newly formed after Knight’s career detour serving in the military and working as a truck driver, stating, “….the Secret Stash label got Sonny & The Lakers together. As you’ll hear, that was a wise decision.”
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Etienne Charles (4:15 – 5:15)
  • Benny Green Trio (2:55 – 3:55)
    • with David Wong and Rodney Green
    • The Los Angeles Times wrote of Green, “When you say he’s got it all, you’ve said it all—That is the most concise summation of the genius of pianist Benny Green.” Pianist and composer Green’s rich, tasteful swinging; ambidextrous musicality driven with a powerful left hand; and uniquely creative improvisations make him one of jazz’s most celebrated pianists. Once a student of Art Blakey, Green has cultivated 20 years of experience as a leader and performer alongside some of jazz’s best known names—Betty Carter, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, and Ray Brown.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • KellyLee Evans (1:35 – 2:35)
    • JazzTimes described this Canadian sensation as “a master of fresh interpretation.” Evans made her debut onto the American music scene with her album, I Remember When, released in July 2014 on the Montéma Music label. Evans was the second place winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, which she credits for launching her career from singing in the shower to singing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. At her Saratoga Jazz Fest debut, Evans may perform her fresh, personalized adaptations of hip-hop songs along with classic jazz and soul.
    • listen to Rdio stream
  • Yosvany Terry Quartet (12:15 – 1:15)
    • featuring Osmany Paredes, Yunior Terry, and Obed Calvaire
    • DownBeat Magazine describes the quartet as “lyrical, complex and caffeinated, it combines the instrumentation and rules of classic hard-bop with the rhythmic savvy of Afro-Cuban music.” Terry’s music, although formally complex and technically intricate, continually maintains a smooth, organic sense of groove that keeps audiences swaying. The New York Times distinguished Terry as “among the bandleaders stretching the definitions of Afro-Cuban jazz.” His latest recording, New Throned King, earned a GRAMMY nomination for “Best Latin Jazz Album,” and this will be his Saratoga Jazz Festival debut as a leader.
    • listen to Rdio stream

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