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Freihofer’s Jazz Festival

Summer billing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center runs the gamut from big-name rock and pop acts to power players from the worlds of classical music and ballet. So, when you summon up your favorite memories of the venue, a large percentage of you may recall August picnics and the lulling tones of Sweet Baby James, or tailgate parties and the preshow chatter about whether Neil would play “Powderfinger,” or maybe a tarragon chicken salad and a thrilling rendition of Schumann’s Liederkreis. But what about the jazz, man?

Though neo-traditionalists, old-school hard boppers and fusion freaks alike will tell you that the American jazz scene is a tough sell, SPAC is now presenting its 25th annual Jazz Festival on Saturday and Sunday, and in a press release that virtually crows, SPAC’s president and executive director, Herbert A. Chesbrough, promises that this year’s quarter-century celebration will be one to remember: “This 25th anniversary of celebrating jazz artists is especially exciting because the talent in the lineup seems to summarize the level of excellence in performance and reputation the Jazz Festival has achieved here.” Yes, of course, he would say that, but when you get a gander at the list of scheduled artists, you may suspend your cynicism just a bit.

On Saturday (June 29), the doings are doing from noon to midnight, and some of the amphitheatre highlights include the famed four-part harmony of the Manhattan Transfer (celebrating an anniversary year themselves, their 30th); a superstar tribute to the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, featuring Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove (pictured); smooth jazz operator Dave Koz & Friends; the politically outspoken, multiethnic legends War; jazz violinist Regina Carter’s quintet; and innovative interpreter of standards and master of the improved “rant,” Kurt Elling.

Saturday’s gazebo stage boasts, among others, the funk/jazz fusion of Gerald Veasely, vocalist Sunny Sumter, and the area’s own jazz trooper Cole Broderick.

On Sunday (June 30), the amphitheatre performances run from noon to 10:30 PM and boast a bevy of fabulous female vocalists, including Natalie Cole, daughter of legendary singer Nat King Cole, and Cassandra Wilson, who’s become the darling of jazz critics in recent years. In the gazebo on Sunday, you can catch the Marie St. Louis Concert Series with Living Daylights, the Ray Vega Latin Jazz Sextet and the Onaje Allan Gumbs Group, among others.

Tickets for the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival are available by phone through the SPAC box office at 587-3330 and at all Ticketmaster locations (476-1000). Tickets for the Saturday show are $50 for the amphitheatre, $32.50 for the lawn if purchased in advance. Lawn tickets for the day of the show are $35. Tickets for the Sunday show are $45 amphitheatre, $30 lawn advance, $32.50 lawn day of show. Children’s tickets will be available for reduced prices on both days. For more information, call the SPAC box office at 587-3330.

Manchester Film Festival

It’s being billed as an “East Coast film festival like you’ve never seen.”

And judging from the lineup of renowned guests, big-deal presenters and edgy up-and-comers, we’re beginning to think this weekend’s Manchester Film Festival might live up to its hype.

Consider just a sampling of what this event has to offer: Novelist John Irving (author of The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules) will do a reading of his screenplay A Son of the Circus, featuring Treat Williams and F. Murray Abraham; Elliot Grove of London’s Raindance Film Festival will present seminars on low- and no-budget filmmaking and writing hot scripts; IMAX director and cinematographer David Breashears will show his latest documentary, Kilimanjaro: to the Roof of Africa; and OOMFF! The Digital Cinema Event will take place all weekend long at the Equinox Hotel in Manchester, featuring a wide variety of nuts-and-bolts workshops for digital filmmakers.

There will be tons more seminars and competitions, live readings and panels, showcases and awards—and screenings, screenings, screenings. It’ll cost a mere $5 a pop to get into each panel showcase film. A Native Vision film showcase will take place today (Thursday) from 9 AM to 5:45 PM, for example, featuring a documentary called Redskins, Tricksters and Puppy Stew by Great Ojibway filmmaker Drew Haydon Taylor on comedians in the Native American community; Contact the People, a short montage of images of Native Americans; and the Doe Boy, a film about a young Cherokee man stigmatized by a handicap. Tomorrow (Friday), you can check out the Women 2002 Panel, in which actress Ally Sheedy, producer Heather Rae and screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein will discuss their personal and professional lives. The discussion will be followed by screenings of four documentaries from the Women Who Make Movies organization. There’s plenty more to choose from, but we don’t have the space to list them all here, so if you want to get the complete schedule, visit

And of course, what would a film festival be without an opportunity to rub elbows with the aspiring and accomplished filmmakers of the day? Wannabe screenwriters will get a chance to pitch their ideas to a jury of industry experts at Friday night’s “Live Ammunition” party, and on Saturday, mingle with filmmaking minds at a Vermont-themed party complete with Donkey Ball, beer, barbecue and live music from the Chris Kleeman Band and the Samples.

The Manchester Film Festival will take place from Thursday (June 27) through Sunday (June 30) at various locations in Manchester Center, Vt. Tickets range from $5 to view a single panel-showcase film to $10 to view a single feature film to $25 to attend the John Irving reading to $50 for a one-day pass and $750 for the entire weekend’s events. For more information on the Manchester Film Festival, call (802) 362-9960 or visit the Web site (here it is, one more time) at

Lisbeth Zwerger’s Land of Oz; Gustav Klimt Landscapes

The Norman Rockwell Museum and the Clark Art Institute are both opening new exhibits this weekend as part of the Vienna Project, a six-month series of exhibitions and special events celebrating the art and culture of Vienna, Austria.

Tomorrow (Friday), the Norman Rockwell Museum (Route 183, Stockbridge, Mass.) will open Lisbeth Zwerger’s Land of Oz, an exhibit which features 38 original watercolors and pencil drawings by Austrian illustrator Zwerger. The artwork reflects the artist’s perspective on Frank L. Baum’s classic, The Wizard of Oz. The exhibit will continue through Sept. 2. For more information, call (413) 298-4100.

On Saturday, the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, Mass.) will open Gustav Klimt Landscapes, which features Klimt’s landscapes, created from the 1890s until the artist’s death in 1918. These large-scale paintings depict the orchards, woods, gardens and mountains of his home in Austria. This exhibit will continue through Oct. 13. For more information, call (413) 458-9545.

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