Celebrating Jazz in Healdsburg:
The two decades of jazz in Healdsburg have been eventful as well as musical, with jazz legends rubbing shoulders (and playing charts) with young lions — even kittens and cubs of this historic moment. Take a look at the line-ups we’ve brought to town in the past, and look forward with us to another decade and more of the real thing in jazz, right here in the musical heart of Sonoma County.
Year 7: June 3 – June 12, 2005
The Seventh Annual festival added a new venue, the back garden of Barndiva, for a kickoff weekend of great new jazz from saxophonist Virginia Mayhew and, the next night, Marc Cary leading a trio from the piano. Then it was off to the races with Mimi Fox at Hotel Healdsburg, and Mark Cantor returning with his jazz shorts at the Raven before the first weekend was over. John Santos and the Machete Ensemble headlined a Tuesday in the Plaza show, and other artists included Jessica Williams, Mary Stallings, Brazilian jazz artists Claudia Villela and Ricardo Peixoto as the week progressed. Saturday night found legendary vibraphonist Gary Burton at the Raven with his new Generation band including Julian Lage on guitar. It concluded with another Sunday afternoon finale with Kenny Barron, Regina Carter, Babatunda Lea, Richard Howell, and many other local and global stars in a jazz bash to remember.
Once again the Healdsburg Jazz Festival reached into the upper reaches of jazz’s legendary talent and pulled in McCoy Tyner, pianist par excellence, whose career with Miles, Coltrane and more needs no elaboratrion. Other stars included West Coat bassist Charlie Haden and his quartet, the return of the Heath Brothers in tribute to the recently passed Percy Heath, and veteran jazz vocalist Mark Murphy. Barndiva again hosted the opening weekend with Marc Cary, Bruce Foreman, Rebecca Mauleon and Shea Breaux Wells appearing in various venues. Billy Hart led a trio with Julian Lage and Santi Debriano, and many other artists appeared throughout the week.
It was the ninth year in a long and successful decade for the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. The 10-day festival featured a tribute to piano virtuoso George Cables, in a rare headlining act at the Sunday afternoon finale with long-time saxophonist Gary Bartz and drummer Tain Watts; trumpeter Roy Hargrove opened the strong show at Rodney Strong. But a week earlier, the action was at Healdsburg’s Rec Park for an all-afternoon open air festival in Celebration of New Orleans and her musicians. Delfeayo Marsalis brought a quintet, the Rebirth Brass Band showed up, and other acts gave a festive atmosphere to the park.
The Rebirth of the Cookers was another highlight in a concert at the Raven Theater, featuring Eddie Henderson, Billy Harper, Craig Handy and more, and the youthful duo of Taylor Eigsti and Julian Lage won over new fans. But for many the highlight came early in the week when Brazil’s legendary Leny Andrade, backed by Sonoma’s own Stephanie Ozer, blew away the Barndiva crowd. Chicago’s Patricia Barber, Rhiannon, the John Heard Trio and other great stars set the stage for another decade of memorable music from the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.
The 10th Anniversary Festival brought jazz legend Charles Lloyd to the festival for a memorable concert, playing in quartet and trio forms with Zakir Hussain, Jason Moran and others at the nearby Jackson Theater. Eddie Palmieri and Pete Escovedo gave us our first “Day on the Green” at Rec Park, while the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Ensemble livelied up the picnickers at Tuesday on the Plaza.
A special tribute to Eric Dolphy saw Bennie Maupin, James Newton, Billy Hart and others together at the Raven on Friday night, and the next night saw Charlie Haden, Kenny Barron and Joshua Redmond on stage, along with local favorites Julian Lage, Ray Drummond and Billy Hart. Sunday morning saw a very moving “spirituals and sacred jazz” performance with James Newton, George Cables and Ruth Naomi Floyd turn the Raven into a house of reverence, setting a high bar for the festival finale that afternoon. But Cedar Walton (returning from the very first Festival, in 1999) and Bobby Hutcherson and their combos, including Renee Rosnes, Victor Lewis, Bobby Watson, Craig Handy, Mary Stallings and more, concluded another great year for the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.
A heady mix of jazz legends and new kids on the block made the 11th Annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival musically exciting – and memorable. Julian Lage kicked it off with an intimate concert at Barndiva, followed the next night by the sensational Esperanza Spalding in her Festival debut. Then the green at Rec Park turned into a bit of old Brazil as guitar maestro Toninho Horta with special guest Airto wowed the open-air audience. Leny Andrade and Stephanie Ozer returned, and the Bossa Nova beat became an integral part of the Festival score.
As the week progressed the “rising stars” ascended, introducing Healdsburg audiences to Debbie Poryes, guitarist Jason Bodlovich and pianist/composer Noam Lemish at the Raven. Piano soloist Denny Zeitlin and saxophone celebrity John Handy followed the next night, and Saturday brought a giant of jazz, Randy Weston with his African Rhythms Quintet. With Benny Barth, Azar Lawrence and Eddie Marshall keeping traditions alive, the stage was set for an epic finale at Rodney Strong as Oakland jazz guru Richard Howell opened for the James Moody Quartet, with special guest Marlena Shaw. In addition, several downtown tasting rooms stepped up with jazz-and-wine mini-concerts, setting a new tradition for the coming years.
For the latest Festival, many familiar faces showed up again in a reunion of jazz voices, with a dash of “new blood” to create an intoxicating musical cocktail. George Cables returned, as did Leny Andrade, Craig Handy, Shea Breaux Wells and Lorca Hart, but a new guitar-slinger showed up in the form of 16-year old Kai Devitt-Lee. Esperanza Spalding packed the Raven, her star still rising, and the year’s Brazil-fest at Rec Park included first generation Bossa Nova star Oscar Castro-Neves, as well as Claudia Villela and Romero Lubambo.
Healdsburg guitarist Christian Foley-Beining brought his new playing partner Paul McCandless to the stage, marking the return of the Oregon multi-instrumentalist to local celebrity. An unusual addition to the line-up was the Art of the Solo Guitar mini-fest, a day long workshop and concert at the local guitar factory of Tom Ribbecke. The Saturday night bill at the Raven showcased the combined talents of bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Geri Allen (both also Festival veterans), with the relative new-comer Ravi Coltrane on sax in a concert that is still talked about. For the finale, a line-up billed as the “keepers of the flame” brought vocalist Gretchen Parlato to the spotlight, and Cuban-born drummer Dafnis Prieto and his Si o Si Quartet jammed with visionary Berkeley musician Peter Apfelbaum. The finale saw pianist Jason Moran leading his Bandwagon through an eclectic set, featuring Bill Frisell on guest guitar. More info on 2010.