The latest addition to the jazz line-up in Healdsburg comes from a young talent still in high school. Kai Devitt-Lee, who’ll be a junior at Healdsburg High next fall, will be showing off his still-developing skills on jazz guitar at the Palette Art Café on alternate Sundays this summer. (Update: Kai has been upgraded to weekly appearances at Palette, every Sunday this summer.)
Kai, still only 15 years old, has been playing guitar for about 4 years, though he showed early musical aptitude as a pre-schooler. His father, Martin Lee, made sure there was a piano in the house when young Kai started picking out tunes by ear, and formal piano lessons started at the age of 8.
But Kai began to focus his talent on guitar when he was 11, and his aptitude took off rapidly. Within a couple years he was playing with informal jazz combos, and when he got to Healdsburg High music director Randy Masselink encouraged his interest. He’s now student-in-charge of the Jazz Combo, a sextet that provides a showcase for high school musicians.
Randy Vincent, a well-known area jazz guitarist, has been a mentor and teacher for Kai. But not only jazz floats Kai’s boat – he’s also a developing flamenco guitarist, under the tutelage of Mark Taylor. In fact Taylor may sit in with Kai at the Palette, possibly either on second guitar or playing the cajon, a box-like percussion instrument. Kai’s flamenco music will be showcased this summer at Manzanita Restaurant (336 Healdsburg Ave., 433-8111) on Saturday evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Palette Art Café (235 Healdsburg Ave., 433-2788) started their Sunday Brunch menu a couple weeks ago, and Kai will play every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, from July 12 to August 23, and possibly beyond that if all goes well! Come for the food, stay for the music, and welcome Healdsburg’s newest jazz talent, 15-year old Kai Devitt-Lee.