Apr 03, 2012 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The best-selling jazz musician of all time and an icon of the psychedelic Sixties will headline the 30th anniversary M&T Bank Syracuse Jazz Festival when Kenny G and Donovan perform at Jamesville Beach on June 22 and 23, respectively. As usual, admission will be free.
Syracuse Jazz Fest Director Frank Malfitano announced the 2012 schedule at a press conference today, April 3, at the M&T Bank branch, downtown.
“Our headliners are household names,” Malfitano told The Eagle last week. “But we also have some rising stars, some fan faves and a couple blasts from the past. I hope people enjoy the lineup and come over to our gorgeous new site in Jamesville.”
The fact that the festival has lasted three decades puts it in rarefied company among the longest-running American music festivals. That select group includes the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival, which celebrates its 58th year this summer.
Soprano saxophonist Kenny G returns to the festival after making a messianic appearance at the 2009 edition at Onondaga Community College where he performed for more than 30,000 listeners.
Born Kenneth Gorelick 56 years ago in Seattle, Kenny G is the biggest-selling instrumental musician of the modern era, with global sales totaling more than 75 million albums. “Songbird” was the breakout hit from his 1986 LP, “Duotones,” a disc that went on to sell a stunning 28 million copies. “Songbird” still flies high. The tune was revived by Audi for an automobile commercial televised during Super Bowl XLV in February 2011.
“Sunshine Superman” was the first major American hit for Donovan Leitch, the 66-year-old singer songwriter from Scotland who will be inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame on April 14 in Cleveland. The catchy composition reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and subsequently became the title track of the tunesmith’s third LP.
The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame nomination credits Donovan with “singlehandedly initiating the psychedelic revolution with his album ‘Sunshine Superman.’” That groundbreaking LP heralded things to come, appearing one year before The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” The Grateful Dead’s debut and Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow.”
Newcomers to the granddaddy of Syracuse music festivals include singers Gregory Porter and Cyrille Aimee and guitarist Diego Figueiredo.
“Greg and Cyrille are the best new male and female vocalists in the world right now,” Malfitano said. “And Diego won the Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition in 2005 when he was just 20 years old!”
The 30th annual festival has a decidedly international flavor with artists from France (Cyrille Aimee), Brazil (Diego Figueiredo) Austria (Harri Stojka’s Hot Club of Vienna) and Scotland (Donovan).
America will be well-represented by smooth jazz king Kenny G, Greg Porter, Billy Vera and his 17-piece featuring a Syracuse horn section led by saxophonist Joe Carello, original Allman Brothers Band percussionist Jaimoe and his Jasssz Band and five-time Austin Music Award-winning funksters Mingo Fishtrap.
Malfitano plans to announce one more major support act in a couple weeks. He thanked County Executive Joanie Mahoney and M&T Bank President Allen Naples for providing the financial support to produce the festival.
“The county has stepped up to the plate for a lot of years and obviously feel jazz fest is an event worthy of public-sector support,” he said, “and M&T has been with us for 19 of our 30 years. Actually we’ve had great corporate sponsors, both large and small, for a long time.”
For instance, he pointed out that National Grid (previously Niagara Mohawk) has contributed for 22 years, and the Liverpool Village Dental Group has been on board for a quarter-century. Radio sponsor WAER-FM has supported Jazz Fest ever since its inception at Song Mountain in 1983.
“We recently won two awards locally for Best Music Festival and Best Free Music event, and those came about as a result of fan voting,” Malfitano noted, “so the popular support continues to be there as well.”
Malfitano continues to seek sponsors to fund the festival’s longstanding educational component which featured performances by area high-school musicians. “Logistically the new site can handle a second stage as we’ve been doing for several years at OCC,” he said, “but it comes down to money. I’m talking with [longtime festival educational director] Steve Frank and [OCC President] Debbie Sydow about that, and we’re keeping it on the backburner for now.”
To become a sponsor of the 30th Syracuse Jazz Fest, call Malfitano at 437-5627.