Parlor Jazz

Helen Sung and “Sung With Words”
featuring poetry by Dana Gioia

Sunday, Dec. 2, 7 p.m.
Paul Mahder Gallery
222 Healdsburg Ave.

Helen Sung, piano
Christie Dashiell, vocals
John Ellis, saxophone
Reuben Rogers, bass
Adam Cruz, drums

“Sung With Words” is Helen Sung’s first recording to feature all original music, consisting of songs derived from California State Poet Laureate Dana Gioia’s poems, as well as instrumental compositions inspired by his works. (Gioia will not be appearing at this concert event, but you can read about this local poet in this Press Democrat article.)

Sung has appeared in Healdsburg twice before, at the inauguration of Healdsburg Jazz’s “Parlor Jazz” series in October 2015, and a year later in November 2016 (with a group that included saxophonist John Ellis as well). Another of her longtime musical colleagues, bassist Reuben Rogers, is also touring with Sung in support of the “Sung With Words” CD, along with Adam Cruz on drums.

This concert will feature Christie Dashiell, one of the singers on the “Sung With Words” CD, who will perform the songs inspired by Gioia. The DC-born vocalist has worked with Esperanza Spalding, Fred Hammond, Smokey Robinson, Geri Allen and Allan Harris among others, as well as fronting her own group in concert and club appearances. NPR (see below) called her a “talented up-and-coming contemporary jazz vocalist.”

“Sung With Words” was released on Sept. 16, 2018, and featured on NPR’s “First Listen” program ten days earlier. An excerpt: “One might think that spoken word, read without musical accompaniment, might interrupt the musical flow, but Gioia’s poems enhance the whole album experience. It’s refreshing to hear the poems followed by the same exact words used as lyrics in each subsequent song, allowing the listener to really digest the message.”

Dana Gioia is an award-winning poet, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and for the past two years the State Poet Laureate. Sung and Gioia met in 2006 and struck up a friendship that results years later in “Sung With Words.” More about this project on

The venue is once again the Paul Mahder Gallery, 222 Healdsburg Ave., an intimate series of rooms connected by a love of art.