2017 Lineup

Saratoga Performing Arts Center exterior photo

The Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Saturday June 24th and Sunday June 25th, 2017.

Saturday Lineup – June 24th


Gazebo Stage

  • 12:15 -  1:20 ~ Aruán Ortiz Trio
  •  1:40 -  2:45 ~ Jack Broadbent
  •  3:05 -  4:10 ~ Dave Stryker Organ Quartet
  •  4:30 -  5:35 ~ Barbara Fasano
  •  5:55 -  7:00 ~ Shabaka & The Ancestors

Sunday Lineup – June 25th


Gazebo Stage

  • 12:10 -  1:15 ~ Noah Preminger/Jason Palmer Quartet
  •  1:35 -  2:40 ~ Adam O’Farrill Quartet
  •  3:00 -  4:05 ~ Blind Boy Paxton
  •  4:25 -  5:30 ~ Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
  •  5:55 -  7:05 ~ Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles


Tickets for the festival are available online at www.spac.org/tickets. New this year is a $20 amphitheater ticket option for children ages 15 and under and students with school-issued ID at time of entrance. Lawn seating is free for children ages 12 and under.

Single Day Adult 2-Day Pass Adult
Orchestra Pit $105 $190
Sections 1-7; Boxes $95 $170
Sections 8-12; 15
Front 16-17
$85 $150
Sections 13-14
Rear 16-17; 18-30
$75 $130
Lawn (General Admission) $65 $110

† 2-day pass discounts expired May 1, 2017

  • Children ages 12 and under are free on the lawn!
  • $20 student tickets are available online and in-person at the box office. Student tickets are only valid with school-issued ID at time of entrance (valid only in sections 13 & 14; 18-30).
  • $20 children’s amphitheater tickets, for kids aged 15 and under, are available online and in-person at the box office (excludes pit seats).


Thanks to Harvey Bernard Bloomfield for curating the streaming links so readers can preview some of the great music for no cost! If you you are new to Spotify, you should know it’s free to listen.

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.

72 replies on “2017 Lineup”

My wife and I have missed only 1 Sat. & Sun. since the beginning ! would like to see artists from past appearances: Boney James, Tower of Power, Dave Koz,Chris Botti, Fourplay,Stanley Clarke, Bela Fleck,Charlie Hunter, Stefon Harris and newcomers TURQUAZ (recently @ Cohoes Music Hall) we look forward to this festival EVERY YEAR !

Part of the Newport Jazz lineup is out and often acts play both there and Saratoga. Living Colour, Three versions of Charles Lloyd including one with Lucinda Wiliams, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Michel Camilo, Mathew Shipp Trio, Andra Day, Mary Halvorsen, “Artemis” (Cecille McLoran Salvant, Renee Rosnes, Anat Cohen, Melissa Aldana, Ingrid Jensen, Noriko Ueda and Allison Miller), James Carter Organ Trio and Jazzmeia Horn.

The New Orleans Jazz Fest lineup is out and sometimes there are acts that play both there and Saratoga. Wish list: Anita Baker, Charles Lloyd and the Marvels with Lucinda Williams, Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton with Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins tribute to Louis Armstrong. Others possible: George Benson, Dianne Reeves, Ron Carter Trio and The Fabulous Thunderbirs.

Looks like Joey Alexander will be back on Saturday, June 23rd. He filled the amphitheater early in the day in 2016. Lots of buzz then due to his youth. He’s still a kid, it will be curious if he can raise the same attention.

Hi Friends – We are close to completing the booking process and hope to be announce some or all of the line-up by the end of the month. It’s been a bit nuts as always putting this jigsaw puzzle together but we’re close. Stand by for more details. The festival website at spac.org will have all the ticket information as well. Maybe it’ll be warmer by the end of the month too! Best DM

Hi Friends – I hope you’ve all been well and had a nice Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I’ve been great and very busy booking the artists and working with SPAC on some exciting new plans for the next festival. There is a big sale going on today for the Flex Lawn Ticket. This ticket will allow you to buy a $68 lawn ticket for $50 today (and for $56 through Dec. 31) and you can use these tickets for either day you choose. So you can buy 4 flex lawn tickets and use all of them on Sat or all on Sun or two each day, etc. Your choice.

$50 Now through 11/27
$56 from 11/ 28 through 12/31
(Originally $68)

Go to http://www.spac.org/holiday-collection and click on the jazz festival link.

We’ll have some artist info soon.

All my best – Danny

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Respectfully Steve there would not be a festival if it wasn’t for the non-jazz part of the lineup. A totally straight jazz lineup would not sell. As it was 11 of the 23 performance slots were jazz (Stryker 2x, Ponty, Salvant, Jazz 100, Ortiz, Bunnett 2x, Hudson, Preminger/Palmer and O’Farrill). Most consider blues part of the jazz genre and there were three acts (Broadbent, Sullivan and Paxton). Further, cabaret/songbook is generally considered jazz (Fasano). This festival has traditionally featured world music acts (Shabaka and Gypsy Kings). Soul music has always been the component of this festival’s lineup that has sold the tickets (The Suffers, Khan, Bridgewater and “To Ray”). Finally, I don’t know what to say about the funk of Cory Henry but diversity is an asset at music festivals.

Great weekend as always, a good time was had by all….But need more Jazz…. It’s a Jazz Festival!!!!! Highlights for me were Stryker, Ponty, Hudson and Chaka Khan!!!! Didn’t see a need for Collier, especially positioned right before the days headliner…. Or see Gipsy Kings as a headliner…

Count me among those who thought the sound out on the lawn was pretty poor for Chaka Khan. It was especially disappointing after the lackluster performance of Jacob Collier. I was hoping that Chaka would end the night on a positive note, but with the sound problems it wasn’t to be.

Sunday was better — I enjoyed Jane Bunnett/Maqueque more than I thought I would. And I agree that Quinn Sullivan has matured as a performer, quite a bit since his last appearance at the festival I thought, but he was more pop/rock than blues. “Is this Blues or Blues Traveler” my companion asked.

Dee Dee stole the show with that “Memphis” set. Quinn Sullivan has matured and with him his performance. Less talk and singing and more rocking. “To Ray” was great, couldn’t stop smiling along. Those three acts made Sunday the surprisingly superior day. Saturday started out well with Dave Stryker as best of day. Jean Luc Ponty was excellent but got a little repetitive. The Suffers suffered from high expectations as I had seen them before. They were good but not as good as I had seen them in the past. Had a wonderful peaceful interlude at the Gazebo with Barbara Fasano and a sparse “crowd” of about 50. Jack Broadbent was good also on Saturday at the Gazebo. Sunday at the Gazebo was iffy. The first two acts (Preminger and O’Farrill were “science projects”. Jane Bunnett was a great act for the Gazebo. Blind Boy Paxton was too mellow for the fourth act when the crowds are larger and the audience is lit and in a party mood. He should have been on as the first act. Cory Henry started 40 minutes late after an agonizingly long sound check. I lost patience and went to the amphitheater. Aruan Ortiz and Shabaka did nothing for me. Cecile Salvant could not be heard on the lawn and was the only act that so suffered. I’ve seen her before and she should be at the Gazebo. Caught very little of Jazz 100. Jacob Collier was the worst featured main stage act in memory. Danny Melnick’s most glaring miss in an excellent near two decades. Didn’t see Chaka but was told by all that she was terrible and that the sound was bad and hideously loud. Heard not one positive review. Only heard a little of “Hudson”, was intrigued but went for Jane Bunnett at the Gazebo and didn’t regret it. Didn’t see the Gypsy Kings, a friend said they were so-so. The new Gazebo is excellent save for the loss of most of the limited amount of shade that previously existed. Sound in the amphitheater and on the lawn was fine save for the aforementioned Cecile Salvant set.

Sound on the lawn was best it has been in a while. To Jazzfan, if you don’t want concert level volume, pitch a tent up under the trees in the flats 🙂 Lots of good music: Hudson, Stryker, Ponty, BLIND BOY PAXTON!!!!, Gypsy Kings, Mequeque. Only a couple disappointments. The Ray tribute was pretty uninspired. I couldn’t figure out why Collier was there. Same with Sullivan. Neither of them played jazz…and Quinn hardly even played any blues…just some lame, teenager pop. (Kind of a surprise, cuz he wailed on blues guitar when I saw him with Buddy.)

But on the whole, I thought there was lots worth hearing. See you in 2018!

2nd day One word Dee Dee (two words) I am not sure she had done a set like this in previous times at SPAC this set smoking. Jane Cuban music was infectious. Hudson was up and down for me, but great musicians. Would have like to hear more sax fro Maceo and it felt like a Las Vegas show. Again congrats on a great 2 days Artist I would like to see Male vocalist Kurt Elling and Tower of Power. congrats on this year Looking forward to next year.
PS Sound outside on lawn fine , A better sound is needed in side

Danny just said see you next year at the gazebo — I’m taking that as we all live another year!

I agree about Jacob Collier. I didn’t get it, and it seemed like he didn’t connect with the crowd at all. Maybe it’s a generational thing?

Some great shows Saturday, but Chaka Khan was far too loud – at the end it was really painful I. The lawn. Please make sure you turn the volume back down today. Remember a lot of us jazz fans don’t want to be subjected rock and roll volumes. Thanks!!!

One word for the firest day SUFFERS This festival never fails to deliver great music but this performance went beyond that. whole day was good Stryker solid band Ponty brought back fusion memories Maybe just me Jacob Collier is very talented but the performance felt gimimickyou and lack the warmth in the music. Looking forward to day 2 Ps great new gazebo stage

My car is packed!! Is yours?!? 😉 The weather forecast looks really good and the music will be flowing all weekend. We have a new gazebo stage too! I am incredibly proud to be producing the 40th festival this weekend and hope you will be there to celebrate this great American and global art form. Please say hello if you can. Thanks so much – DM

For those who have passed
Dave Pell
Chuck Berry
Tommy LiPuma
Al Jarreau
Mose Allison
Fred Anderson
Gato Barbieri
Larry Coryell
Svend Asmussen 3 wees short of 101
Chuck Stewart And Ed Berger Photographer and Jazz Writer
Buddy Greco
Nat Hentoff
Hod O’Brien
Bob Cranshaw
Rudy Van Gelder
Toots Thielemans
Bobby Hutcherson
Phil Woods
Jeremy Steig
Don Friedman
Doug Raney

I have to make some comments First this is the bestmusic bargain for seeing so many artist in one place that will be in Montreal , Toronto and in between in separate concerts and we get them all together for the cost of a single ticket . As to no name big name jazz artist. For me this line up is a treasure trove Dave Stryker amazing guitarist with a huge discography along with Eric Alexander and the best of the new organists Jared Gold. Jean Luc Ponty Come on. Cecile Savant top jazz vocals . All Star Jazz 100 band along with some new artist I am anxious to hear A great Saturday
Sunday as well along with R &B with Macero Parker and World Gypsy Kings Blues with Quinn. Also On the gazebo Noah Preminger/Jason Palmer Quartet Adam O’Farrill Quartet
We lost a lot of greats this year and a shot out to Gary Burton who has retired Jazz is alive and well and getting better

I enjoy the Saratoga Jazz festival. The venue is fantastic. I grew up in the area and have moved to another state but I love coming back to attend the Saratoga Jazz Fest. The last time I attended was 2015 and the shows were amazing. I’m open to listening to all artists that you bring and I’ve read the comments from my fellow jazz lovers. I just attended the three day Capital jazz fest in Columbia MD. It was amazing and the artists were fantastic. You can view the lineup online. There were additional artists added to the line up such as Gerald Albright and Jonathan Butler to name a few. I’m sure these artists command a lot of money but I would bet that The Saratoga Jazz Fest would bring in the funds to cover the cost and still make a huge profit due to its location to other major cities. Keep giving us great music!!

I have been attending this fest. since 1987. I have also be fortunate enough to get the same spot on the lawn area. Although I remember running across the bridge. I don’t miss it. I’m a LOT older and can’t compete. Even though a few of us meet each year at 5:30 am.. We still get excited while waiting. First come first served. Now that we are escorted across the bridge. It makes it a little easier to get that spot.
As the years have been kind to many of the fans. We all get a little sad when a favorite artist passes away. But we truly have been blessed to Mr. D. Melnick continue to present a wide selection of new and old performers. So, as long as Dan is in charge, I know I’ll never be disappointed attending the Friehofers Jazz Festival at Saratoga Springs, NY.


@Joe Carroll
Hi Joe – thanks for the comment. Remember that almost all of the “big name jazz artists” are gone. With regards to your sons, we are now offering a $20 student ticket. This is for rear reserved seats and all of the lawn. This is a new ticket price we are offering. Check spac.org for the details. Best DM

I’ve been going since 1987 and I truely agree with the overriding sentiment; the Saratoga Jazz festival is simply not the same anymore. No more big name jazz artists and the prices are through the roof. My wife and I use to bring our two sons when they were little. They’re now teenagers but gee whiz, at this point, it would cost us $400 for the four of us and that’s just for one day!

@Joe M
Please share your suggestions. We are ahead in ticket sales from last year and most everyone seems to be extremely enthusiastic about the festival. I was at SPAC yesterday for their public board meeting and people were telling me how excited they are. DM

Hi Friends – Happy spring to everyone. We are 40 days out. I can’t believe it. The SPAC Box office opened on Saturday and we are in full “swing” with our production and marketing efforts. We are so excited about the 40th festival and how everything is coming together. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the park real soon. It’s gonna’ be fabulous. Best DM

I’m a jazz lover from way back. Been going to Saratoga for over 32 years. Now prices are up and

lineup is disappointing. I love the SPAC Atmosphere of the past. Things they are a changing !!

@Joe M

Maceo Parker and the Ray Charles Orchestra may not be some big name draw. But that’s a heck of band for Sunday Night.
Hudson has some legends in that band also.

Saratoga Jazz is definitely deteriorating due to the lineup. No more mix of fusion/contemporary jazz. Sunday lineup is the worst. I cant even figure out who’s the headliner for Sunday. Very disappointing. The attendance is going down almost every year. I have been doing this Jazz Festival for about 30 years. I would say, till early 2000 things were really great.

Danny, wanted to thank you for your efforts. Everybody knows you can’t please all the people all the time. One thing I haven’t seen much of a Saratoga are jazz fusion bands. Have you ever looked into any of today’s artists? I know Satriani might be out of ballpark, but how about artists like Alan Pasqua, Oz Noy, Alan Morse, Jim Weider, Jeff Kollman, Daryll Dobson, Billy Cobham, Tore Morten Andreassen, etc. I’m not an expert on the style, but I do like it for a change in my jazz listening.

Love this festival so much, but I also gave up on inside seats a few years ago. Not worth the added $$ to get lousy seats. That said, it really is a bargain compared to any single act shows you’re likely to see. The thing I love about this festival is that it’s all in one venue, for one price. I’d like to go to Montreal sometime, but the cost of staying there, then having to pay for tickets to each of the big name shows would far exceed what we get for a weekend in Saratoga. Those festivals might be great for “locals”, but for a weekend deal, Freihofer’s Jazz festival can’t be beat. Thanks, Danny!!

Thanks for clearing that up Danny, I can’t even imagine the “stuff” you have to deal with to organize this event! And you are right, it is an incredible value to see Jean Luc, Jacob, and Chaka for $100 let alone all the other great talent in the same place on the same day.

@Howie Gold
Hi Howie – thank you very much for your comments and support.

I think about the value of the festival constantly and see how single artist concerts throughout the region are upwards of $100+++ for the best seats and the festival, to me, seems like the greatest bargain on earth!

The Pieces of A Dream issue was entirely their tour manager’s error. He thought they had a 45 minute set and told them that before they went on. I didn’t know that. I was so surprised when they finished. I looked at him and said, “they have 15 more minutes!” To which he replied, “No, we did our 45.” And I just frowned and showed him the schedule posted on the wall. By that time the stage crew was striking the gear and it was too late. I was bummed out too because I wanted them to play longer and scheduled the time for them to do that. Show business!

Best DM

I would like to thank Danny Melnick for all the incredible music you have turned us on to at Saratoga. I have attended 35 of these, and with a friend was a long time SPAC member just so we could get tickets in the pit. With the increased costs, logistics, and competition of getting “big name” artists it has become much more difficult to have line-ups like those of early years. The addition of the Gazebo and improvements to the overall facilities have made this a great weekend of music! There are some things that affect my decision to attend each year that I would like to point out. The overall cost of the entire weekend makes it tough for people with lower incomes and limited budgets. Most places require a three or four night stay, if you can even find a nice place that is not sold out already. While lawn tickets remain stable, the difficulty of finding good seats inside has gotten out of hand. I understand the need to reward SPAC members, but on the first day of online sales only seats on the extreme outside sections were available. At $100 per person per day that makes it an expensive weekend for not so good seats. We really looked forward to the return of Pieces Of A Dream after “discovering” them so many years ago, only to have their set limited because Joey Alexander played over his allotted time. Yes the years of playing past midnight are long gone, and I understand the need to keep to a tight schedule but that was really disappointing! Perhaps less acts will allow for longer performances, but allowing one artist to cut into another’s time is not fair to the performers or the patrons. These are factors that we consider when deciding whether to attend each year. So this will be one of those years where we will probably attend just one day if the weather is nice. The drive from Syracuse is not too bad, but I wonder how many people will skip for similar reasons. In the past we had to compete with our own jazzfest on the same weekend, but not this year because our organizers have changed the dates. With that in mind if any of you are interested in a great weekend of music I suggest you check out Syracuse Jazzfest which is FREE…http://syracusejazzfest.com/ Great mix of local and national acts FREE. Hope to see some of you there! Thanks again Danny for all your hard work.

With more jazz fests big or small seeming to pop up around the country (and the globe) I would think producing an all-star lineup would be a pretty hard effort. Yeah, sure the lineups have been greater in years past, especially in those first ten years or so, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to discover some artists that you like. We, and our friends still look forward to “The Hang” every year. It can’t be easy putting this event together every year with so many other fests occurring around that time. Hey, man, it’s still a good time, good atmosphere, and with good weather for us it’s our official start of summer.

Im sure the lineup will speak for itself. Now if Danny could just book two days of sunshine. Then we would all be happy!

Thom – I have been booking the festival since 1999. Chaka hasn’t been there since 1996. 21 years. Dee Dee will be named an NEA Jazz Master in April and is one of few artists still alive and performing who appeared at the first festival. She was last in Saratoga 6 years ago.

Who would you like to see?

Best DM

Come on guys It a great 2 days of music which I enjoy every year Its not a perfect world and I am sure booking with a budget and getting performers on certain dates is difficult. So enjoy it for what it is 2 days of hopefully sunshine meeting old friends and chill out There is too much stress in the world Enjoy

What’s going on!
Each year it get worse!!!
Its sad who is n charge of bookings!! I notice less people come every year! Saratoga Use to be Awesome?

For me the festival is a weekend away to discover new music and connect with trad jazz blues r and b l love it all. As I did last year I will get together some links on all the artist streaming
Jason Collier looks real interesting as his concert video showith

One of the things I want from a music festival is to see people that I would not normally spend the time, energy and money on their own. This year does that for me with The Gypsy Kings. Also I want to be introduced to new artists. Jacob Collier, Barbara Fasano, Jack Broadbent, and Cory Henry do that for me. Further, I seek diversity. This lineup is quite diverse with much of the bill being straight jazz (Ponty, Salvant, Jazz 100, Hudson, Bridgewater, Preminger/Palmer), while also offering Latin jazz (O’Farrill and Ortiz). There’s always a soul quotient to Saratoga and Khan, To Ray and The Suffers fill that nicely. (The Suffers are a terrific soul/funk/Latin influenced band with a lead singer Kam Franklin that is the real deal. Saw them in Bristol, Va. at the Rhythm and Roots Reunion.). There is usually a blues component and Broadbent, Sullivan and Paxton cover that though if I never saw Quinn Sullivan again it would be OK. Stryker, Bunnet and Henry supply some funk and world influences. Yes it is not star studded and probably not as good as last year which was one of the best in recent years. The festival scene is more competitive each year and Saratoga has nowhere near the financial pull that most of the other festivals have. It’s also usually a beautiful social event. Go with lessened expectations perhaps and hopefully be pleasantly surprised.

Whoever makes these performance selections should be fired. There used to be top rate talent at Saratoga, not any more. Another year of Dee Dee Bridgewater and Chaka Khan. Really?

Another disappointing lineup. Each year it gets worse and worse. It’s a jazz festival, how about including some well known jazz stars. Again with Chaka Khan…Are you kidding me. this is embarrassing.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fair lineup is out today. Often Saratoga has some of the same acts. Lots of Cuban music including the legendary Chucho Valdes on the bill.

@Scott Staub
Hi Scott – the official website for the festival is spac.org

It will be listed there and you can sign up there for our email blast.

We are announcing the line-up next Sunday, January 29!

Best DM

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