Artemis set to take the SPAC stage at jazz festival
Artemis is ready for a reboot. The all-female jazz supergroup, whose members come from all over the world, will resume their activities this weekend on stage at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
“This performance is very important for us to get back together after so many months of absence,” said Renee Rosnes, pianist and musical director of Artemis, in a recent interview with The Gazette.
Rosnes, with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller, will perform at the Saratoga Jazz Festival in Freihoffer on Sunday.
Named by Jensen after the Greek goddess of wild animals and childbirth, the group is made up of established solo artists from the United States, Canada, France, Chile, Israel and Japan. They first met several years ago for what would be two concerts to celebrate International Women’s Day in Paris and Luxembourg.
“We had a lot of fun together and decided it would be fun to tour together,” said Rosnes.
Then the tour turned into something more.
“Again we had a great time playing together and the music really jellied up and it really had nothing to do with the fact that we were all women even though we were, but we played together because we liked to play together … it was after this tour that we decided to stay a band, ”said Rosnes.
Each member brings their own style to the group and this shines through on their self-titled debut album, recorded in 2019 and released in September of the following year.
“Basically everyone brought an arrangement or a composition and we got together and rehearsed ahead of time and just decided what songs we wanted to record and then we went to the studio and did it,” said Rosnes.
With nine tracks, it’s a joyful album, with originals and reinvented classics like “The Fool On The Hill” by The Beatles and “If It’s Magic” by Stevie Wonder.
In a review of the album, NPR’s Kevin Whitehead said, “Supergroups combining distant music stars don’t always work with competing sensibilities in play, but the members of that group are aligned. Mutual support is built into how the colorful horns can play marked passages behind the solos, and one soloist can dive in while another is still finishing, so the action is uninterrupted.
While reviews were positive, releasing an album in the midst of a pandemic was bittersweet.
“It was also nice to be able to share new music with people,” said Rosnes. “It was a challenge because normally when you release an album you support it with a tour.” Their tour was canceled and Rosnes said it was disappointing not to have the chance to share the music after the album.
However, the pandemic hasn’t stopped Rosnes or Jensen from playing; they just turned to different settings.
Over the past year or so, Jensen has juggled parenthood with a new job as acting dean and director of jazz arts at the Manhattan School of Music. She also gave concerts on her lawn, which she shared online.
“It’s pretty close to the home stuff, it’s great. I actually absolutely loved it, ”Jensen said.
Rosnes focused on songwriting, working with her husband and fellow pianist Bill Charlap to create an entire album of songs, which they recorded earlier this year. The album, titled “Kinds of Love”, is slated for release in September.
For now, with Artemis, Rosnes said “we are picking up where we left off. . . and present all the music that we were unable to present due to the pandemic. “
They will perform on Sunday after Cécile McLorin Salvant, and they are eager to finally regain the energy of the public.
“We can all make music for ourselves, or even for each other, but when you’re in front of an audience you feel that energy, it’s a different ball game,” said Rosnes.
Here’s a look at the rest of the festival’s lineup:
Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival
The first is Dianne Reeves, a Grammy Award-winning jazz singer who has been named Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Reeves is followed by seven-time Grammy-winning Christian McBride’s New Jawn.
Indonesian jazz pianist and composer Joey Alexander returns for his third appearance at the festival. The youngest jazz artist nominated for a Grammy, he will be celebrating his 18th birthday at the SPAC.
Presented by Caffe Lena, the Saratoga Hot Club will round out Saturday’s lineup. The gypsy jazz swing set plays in the style inspired by
Django Reinhardt and Le Quintette du Hot Club de France prominent in the 1930s.
Composer, singer and visual artist Cécile McLorin Salvant starts the day. The Grammy Award winner has a knack for finding connections between vaudeville, blues, folk, theater, jazz and baroque music.
Artemis is in place after Salvant, followed by Al Di Meola, a prolific composer who has amassed over 20 albums while collaborating on dozens more with the band Return to Forever.
Next, Garland Nelson’s Joyful Noise will make his festival debut in a concert presented by Caffe Lena.
For tickets and more information, visit spac.org.
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