Freihofer Jazz Festival Ushers in Great Music in Saratoga Springs, NY
Pop pretty much was exemplified by George Benson's band. He performed a variety of his chart-making hits, including "Give Me the Night," "This Masquerade" and "Breezin.'" Nothing new there and no attempt to freshen them. There were sets from the likes of the talented David Sanborn, soul songstress India.arie and Tower of Power. Sanborn sounded his R&B self, loud, yet probably exciting in its own way. (However these ears beat feet, as it were, for JFJO's second set at the gazebo while Sanborn's pop blared on.)
Al Green's act came out like a Las Vegas revue-style band, complete with dancers and over- arranged hype. He covered his hits from the past, as well as a segment with about one or two short lines from other people's 1970s hits, toward what purpose still remains a mystery. His band pranced around, the Rev. Al preached at times, and at other times seemed to rely on his signature high-pitched drone that led to the next phrase or next superfluous dalliance. As The Bard once said: "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Nonetheless, the 30th festival featured great and satisfying music, and its presence at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is a great injection of American culture into the Capital District region. From the first day in 1978, when Dizzy Gillespie's kick-ass jam session went into the early morningRoy Haynes, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Ponty, Michael Brecker, Diz and more, cooking as George Wein tried, from the wings, to get Dizzy to bring things to a halt (only to have Diz laugh and keep going)to the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey this year, all thirty editions have been memorable and important.