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Saratoga Jazz Fest Ups The Ante With Packed Friday Schedule And Weekend Headliner Norah Jones

Jazz Fest weekend will also include performances by Grammy-nominated pianist Fred Hersch, guitarist George Benson and Saratogian-led Kansas Smitty's House Band.

Saratoga Jazz Fest
Multiple Grammy Award-winning artist Norah Jones is one of the headliners at this year's Saratoga Jazz Fest.

Jazz Fest weekend is upon us again, Saratoga! It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy some of the world’s best jazz music right in the comfort of our great city at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival. Taking place, as always, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Jazz Fest starts early on Saturday, June 29 and rolls through Sunday, June 30. And just like in years past, there are tons of Jazz Fest-related events happening on Friday, June 28, as well.

First up, as a pre-festival kickoff, SPAC, along with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Times Union, will present the 2nd Annual Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Friday—a citywide event at 20 participating hotels, restaurants and stores in Saratoga that will feature a surfeit of jazz music, pop-up performances, themed dining and dancing. Grab food and drink specials all night while listening to live music at Sperry’s Restaurant; get some dancing and fancy footwork in at The Adelphi Hotel with the Dus Tin De Luke Trio; or just sit back and enjoy jazz masters Curley Lamb (Ria Curley and Chuck Lamb) with Nu-Soul-Jaz Quartet at The Wine Bar. Fourteen-time Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Fred Hersch was also scheduled to play two sets at Caffè Lena on Friday; however, due to health reasons, that concert has been rescheduled to Sunday, December 22.

Now for the all-day affair that is Saturday and Sunday at SPAC. In a first in the Jazz Fest’s 42-year history, both Saturday and Sunday will be opened with performances by two local high school jazz ensembles, one from Saratoga Springs High, the other, Shaker High (Saratoga High’s gig is at 12:45pm on Saturday, while Shaker High’s is on Sunday at 11:45am). As for the main lineup, for both days it’s about as star-studded as you can get. Grammy Award-winning guitar legend George Benson will headline Saturday’s schedule, with his first Jazz Fest performance in a decade. Also look out for the Mercy Project playing their hit 2013 debut album Mercy, as well as the astonishing drumming of Golden Globe winner Antonio Sánchez (he composed the score for the 2014 Oscar-winning film Birdman). Sunday’s headliner is nine-time Grammy winner Norah Jones, who will be making her Jazz Fest debut; and expect electrifying performances by the upbeat Kansas Smitty’s House Band, led by Saratoga native and saxophone and clarinet virtuoso Giacomo Smith, in addition to a funky and colorful show by a New Orleans-based group of Mardi Gras Indians, Cha Wa.

Tickets are still available at spac.org. And if jazz isn’t your bag, there are a bunch of other great options to keep you busy over the weekend.

Monday

Take a swing at the Inaugural Dr. Arthur J. Wallingford Memorial Golf Tournament at the Colonie Golf & Country Club in Voorheesville (June 24)

Join Glens Falls’ The Hyde Collection for its relaxing Annual Summer Luncheon by the water at The Lake George Club in Diamond Point (June 24)

The “Camp Saratoga Fun Run Series” kicks off with the first of five 5K trail runs at Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park’s Camp Saratoga (June 24)

Tuesday

The Euclid Quartet is performing at Skidmore’s Arthur Zankel Music Center as part of the college’s multi-week Mostly Modern Festival (June 25)

Wednesday

New York-based author Nicholas Mancusi will be discussing his debut novel, A Philosophy of Ruinat Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga (June 26)

Theresa Caputo, star of the hit TLC show Long Island Medium, is coming to the Palace Theatre in Albany (June 26)

The Joy US Foundation will be holding its “Just Add Water Kayaking Fundraiser” at Fish Creek marina in Saratoga (June 26)

Catch the Capital District Youth Pipe Band as part of Scotia’s Freedom Park Summer Concert Series (June 26)

Thursday

Jazz at the Spring is bringing the great jazz flutist Hiroaki Honshuku to the Spring Street Gallery in Saratoga (June 27)

The 12th Annual DISH IT OUT for kids, a celebrity gourmet food challenge, will be held at Saratoga National Golf Club (June 27)

The fantastically fun and colorful Akropolis Reed Quintet will be performing at Skidmore’s Arthur Zankel Music Center (June 27)

Keep the hippie spirit alive with tons of Grateful Dead tunes and more with The Wheel at Putnam Place in Saratoga (June 27)

Learn how to make Cyanotype Photograms (camera-less photographs) with artist Caitlin Parker at Drop Forge & Tool in Hudson (June 27)

The Nat Phipps Trio will be playing this week’s show for Jazz on Jay, a free, weekly lunchtime concert series on Jay Street in Schenectady (every Thursday until August 22)

Friday

Local reality star singers Madison VanDenburg and Moriah Formica will be playing a show at the Times Union Center in Albany (June 28)

Get ready to laugh with Last Comic Standing finalist Myq Kaplan at Comedy after Dark at the Park Theater in Glens Falls (June 28)

Alt-rock favorites Toad the Wet Sprocket will celebrate their 30th anniversary as a band at The Egg in Albany (June 28)

Come out to Saratoga National Golf Club and kick it patriotic style with the American Cancer Society’s Red, White & Blue Party (June 28)

Hip-hop fans can’t miss Masters of Ceremony, a concert featuring Snoop Dogg, DMX, 50 Cent and more at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (June 28)

Late-night comedian Jonathan Burns is bringing his Flexible Comedy to the Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls (June 28-29)

Multi-talented, Emmy-award winning actor Hugh Jackman will be performing music at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan (June 28 and 29)

The Playhouse Stage Company is proud to present Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical In the Heights at the Park Playhouse in Albany’s Washington Park (June 28-July 27)

Fridays at the Lake concert series is offering great bands plus beer and wine at Shephard Park in Lake George Village (every Friday until August 30)

Saturday

Opera Saratoga’s The Daughter of the Regiment has its premiere at the Spa Little Theatre in Saratoga, and  tickets are discounted for the Saratoga Pride Community  (June 29)

Get some great views of Manhattan with an all-night Rooftop Party at the Sky Room, one of New York City’s tallest rooftop bar lounges (June 29)

Join New York City’s annual LGBTQ street fair PrideFest—loads of exhibitors, entertainers and activities all day on 4th Avenue between Union Square and Astor Place (June 29)

The former frontman of folk-rock band The Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian, is playing a show at Caffè Lena in Saratoga (June 29)

Enjoy the Hella Brooklyn Block Party, Pearl Market’s epically fun opening event for the outdoor market season, featuring local artists, artisans, food vendors and more (June 29)

Get a tasting (or two or three) at the Adirondack Wine & Food Festival at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in Lake George (June 29-30)

Sunday 

Catch the world premiere of Ellen West, a chilling new opera based on the poem by Pulitzer-winning poet Frank Bidart and presented by Opera Saratoga at the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga (June 30)

Show your special lady a little extra love with the Summer Brunch & Shop – Ladies Day at the Grand Bazaar in Manhattan (June 30)

Celebrate Jewish pride with kosher BBQ and lots of bikes, rollerblades or skateboards at the Great Parade-A-Thon in Halfmoon Town Park—bring your own helmet (June 30)

Summer Strolls will be offered by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation at Historic Congress Park in Saratoga (every Sunday through September 1)

Jeff Dingler
Jeff Dingler

Jeff Dingler is saratoga living's Senior Writer. He's a graduate of Skidmore College and a professional musician.

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