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Freihofer’s Jazz Festival

Curating a big, two-day, outdoor jazz festival must be a little bit like playing fantasy baseball. Given a sizable stage and a big enough budget, you could hand-pick your heroes, shuffle them around, put them together in unique configurations, and (when you’re all done playing God) pull up a lawnchair, pour yourself a lemonade, and watch the whole thing play out.

This year’s jazz fest curator put together a real dream team, and even if the lineup doesn’t suit your specific fantasy, there’s enough variety to please just about anyone with an ear for this other American pastime.

Saturday’s lineup will feature the “queen of rock and soul” Patti LaBelle, the Gary Burton Quartet Revisited (with Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow and Antonio Sanchez), as well as a celebration of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, with a band led by drummer Jimmy Cobb who played on the seminal album. Also on the bill are young phenoms John Ellis and the Dred Scott Trio.

George Benson (pictured) headlines Saturday’s lineup with a tribute to Nat “King” Cole that will incorporate a 28-piece orchestra, and Dave Brubeck celebrates the 50th anniversary of the album that put him on the map, Time Out. Funky trombone super-group Bonerama, pianist Aaron Parks, and rising guitarist Julian Lage round out the fantasy.

The Freihofer’s Jazz Festival will be at SPAC (Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs) on Saturday and Sunday (June 27-28). Tickets range from $41.50 to $110, and single-day passes are available. Call 584-9330 or visit spac.org for more info.

The Einstein Project

Berkshire Theatre Festival is reprising their successful Unicorn Theatre production of The Einstein Project, this time mounting the intimate historical portrait on their Main Stage.

The highly theatrical biography strips away the stereotypes of the world’s most iconic genius and paints a detailed portrait of the brilliant pacifist who reluctantly ushered in the atomic age. Through conversations with his beloved but emotionally disturbed son and his colleagues in physics, playwrights Paul D’Andrea and Jon Klein reintroduce Einstein, who they describe as “idealistic, relentless, passionate, logical, imaginative, flinty, sensitive, tough, caring, self-confident in the extreme and obsessed with God’s thoughts.”

Curtain Up called the result “triumphant,” and Theatre Notes declared, “Drop everything to see what theater is when it soars!”

The Einstein Project opens for preview at Berkshire Theatre Festival (Route 7, Stockbridge Mass.) on Tuesday (June 30) at 8 PM. Opening night is July 4 at 8 PM. Tickets are $46-$51 for preview performances, and $49-$68 for the remainder of the run. For more info, or to purchase tickets, call the BTF box office at (413) 298-5576.

Out of This World

Not literally “out of this world,” as in the sense of “outer space.” Rather, the works in this exhibit opening tomorrow (Friday) at the Albany International Airport Gallery are meant to take you out of mundane minute-to-minute reality: “Within this world and all around us march the familiar products of manufacture, interceded by the tenacious sprouting of life. . . . By entangling the stuff of industry with elements in nature, artists are often able to describe territories that are unearthly.”

That’s what will be going on here. Dislocation. Escape.

The artists featured in the show are Betsy Brandt, Susie Brandt, Ginger Ertz, Chris Harvey, Jennifer Maestre, David Miller and Devorah Sperber. Pictured is Miller’s Midnight in the Garden of the Sea (2007).

Out of This World: Transcending the Terrestrial in Contemporary Art opens tomorrow (Friday, June 26) and runs through Nov. 29 at the Albany International Airport Gallery (Albany International Airport, Colonie). The opening reception is also Friday from 5:30-7:30 PM. For more info, call 242-2241.


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