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Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Fest Stays Home for the Weekend

The festival's online "Stay Home Sessions" will feature new performances from Jon Batiste, Béla Fleck, Pedrito Martinez, and more

Jon Batiste performs in front of students from the Jazz House Kids Summer Workshop at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival
Jon Batiste performs in front of students from the Jazz House Kids Summer Workshop at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival (photo: Marek Lazarski)

Earlier this year, the 2020 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, like so many jazz festivals around the world, was canceled due to health and safety concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In its place: Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Stay Home Sessions, a series of streamed concerts set for the originally scheduled festival dates, today (June 26) through Sunday (June 28). All concerts are free and hosted through the YouTube channel of the venerable Saratoga music venue Caffè Lena. Select sets will also be simulcast on JazzTimes‘ Facebook page.

The Stay Home Sessions will feature a mix of produced videos from national artists alongside performances from the Caffè Lena stage by local ensembles. (For safety and social distancing purposes, Caffè Lena will remain closed to everyone except essential personnel and musicians.) Kicking off the virtual festival on Friday is a Cuban-themed evening with percussionist Pedrito Martinez and keyboardists Chuck Lamb and Jorge Gomez. On Saturday, husband/wife banjo duo Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn headline, preceded by the Skidmore Jazz Institute Alumni Trio. Closing out the proceedings on Sunday is pianist/bandleader Jon Batiste, with Garland Nelson’s “Reflections: A Motown Tribute Ensemble” rounding out the bill.

All three concerts begin at 8 p.m. ET. Although they are free, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is also raising funds for the Equal Justice Initiative by selling commemorative festival T-shirts featuring original artwork by Skidmore College student Isa Hage.

For more details, visit the Saratoga Performing Arts Center website.