Marc Cary Trio

Thursday, June 7
7 and 9 p.m.
Buy ticketsPaul Mahder Gallery
222 Healdsburg Ave.
$35 (two shows)

Event Sponsors – Sotheby’s
Event Patron – Kathleen and Dennis Abbe

Every successful organization needs a secret weapon, and that includes jazz festivals. At Healdsburg who would this be? Looking at the 20-year roster of performers, an obvious pick would the pianist Marc Cary.

Why secret? Well, Marc’s not a flashy guy. You could say he’s content to lead from behind. It is exactly this difficult-to-describe talent that led singer Abbey Lincoln to keep him in the piano seat for 12 years, and what also endeared him to vocal legends Betty Carter and Carmen McRae. Female artists have a thing for Marc. In addition to star jazz singers, he served as the secret weapon for Meshell Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill. What does this say about him? Well, Marc has some of the best ears in the business, and the power to calibrate dynamics down to the softest sigh. He’s also got the funk, which he picked up as a kid playing clubs around Washington D.C., and which he continues to flaunt in groups like Marc Cary’s Indigenous Peoples.

Marc is a rhythm detective. He frequently seeks collaborations with musicians from Africa and India, and his longstanding percussion companion, Sameer Gupta, studied tabla with Zakir Hussain (see June 3). Marc’s playing and compositions reflect these influences in intriguing ways. At the Paul Mahdar Gallery we will see how those influences blend in the pure unfiltered vehicle of the jazz trio. All to the good, as Marc’s deep experience, daring imagination, and significant chops will be in full swing.

Apt communicators, Marc’s sidemen will make this challenge seem a snap. Drummer Victor Lewis (right) is a wily veteran who everyone wants on their gigs. It would be easier to name the musicians Victor hasn’t played with, but that would be impractical, so here are some of the luminaries whose albums or live dates Victor has graced: Stan Getz, Johnny Griffin, Abbey Lincoln, Art Farmer, Hubert Laws, David Sanborn, Carla Bley, Kenny Barron, Bobby Hutcherson.

Bassist David Ewell, a graduate of Berkeley High School’s star-making jazz program, has been a member of Marc’s Focus Trio for around 10 years, which tells you all you need to know about this sideman’s proficiency and sensitivity.  With so much music to communicate and so many ways to express it, these three will be having a conversation for the ages. And thanks to Marc’s openness, it’s a conversation the audience will definitely be in on. Expect joyous effortless swing. The Healdsburg Jazz Festival’s secret weapon, right here.