Friday, June 8
7 p.m. (doors open at 6)
Event Patron – Pat and Frank Carrubba
The mutual loyalty between the Healdsburg Jazz organization and certain musicians who perform here repeatedly is one of the features that makes the festival so special. It’s in some ways like a family reunion, a highlight of the year for players like Charles Lloyd, Billy Hart, Fred Hersch, Julian Lage, and Marc Cary who bring so much love with them every time.
Another one of these players was the pianist Geri Allen, who passed away last summer at the tender age of 60. She left a big void, but also a legacy. Geri was an omnivorous artist, a polyglot whose playing embraced the full continuum of jazz, from ragtime to the avant-garde, with a deep consciousness of the art form’s roots in Africa. Geri was shamanic, a griot who constructed cascades of sound emanating from a virtuoso’s hand and a passionate heart. She wanted to teach the world what the music could be in its best spirit.
Geri was set to return to the festival this summer in a concert with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, with whom she graced the Healdsburg stage in 2010 along with the late great bassist Charlie Haden – seekers each. Now, Ravi, with help from peerless bassist Dave Holland and genre-bending drummer Terri Lyne Carrington – both veterans of Geri’s bands and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival – will be “Celebrating Geri Allen” at the Raven Performing Arts Theater.
How to celebrate someone whose life was a celebration? Each of these musicians are keenly aware that there is something that they are channeling, something pushing them toward a goal, to some kind of transcendence. Ravi Coltrane (right) needless to say grew up in family practically defined by the search for a musical holy grail. As Miles Davis’ bassist starting in 1968, Dave Holland (below right) was at the center of so much transformation, a cracking open of the idea of what jazz could be. Since then he has always been about change, embracing the new, creating his own musical realities.
Terri Lyne Carrington (left) is one of the few players of her generation (she’s 52) to have been mentored by a range of jazz elders like James Moody, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. Her drumming is capacious, an act of embracing the totality in a pulse that resists all categories.
To these people Geri Allen was a guide and a follower – a sister. It is a family of restless players who see the calm at the center. To them, and to this festival, she will always be alive.
The opening band will be the winner of the 2018 Student Jazz Combo Competition; more details available soon.