After a harrowing near death experience, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival returns bigger and better than ever this coming June 3-12, with a glittering roster of jazz giants on the bill. This year the musicians themselves are personally committed to reviving the singular institution of Healdsburg's jazz festival by donating their time and talent to assure the event's continued success.
Running from June 3-12 at venues around the picturesque Wine Country town, the 13th Annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival showcases a sensational roster of veteran jazz masters including Charles Lloyd, Bobby Hutcherson, Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, George Cables, Billy Hart, Geri Allen, Bobby Watson, Denny Zeitlin, John Santos and Arturo Sandoval.
The entire festival is designed as an unprecedented 10-day benefit for the non-profit, mostly volunteer organization that produces the event. The internationally recognized Healdsburg Jazz Festival has long distinguished itself with a single-minded focus on presenting the world's greatest jazz musicians. At a time when hundreds of arts organizations across the nation have been forced to downsize or disband due to the economic crisis, Healdsburg's revival offers an inspirational object lesson in the way that artists, music lovers and a close-knit community can turn the tide against despair.
With the announcement last year that HJF's board of directors had dismissed the festival's founder and artistic director, Jessica Felix, and canceled the 2011 festival, musicians and festival fans immediately sprang into action. The story quickly went national, and an outpouring of support for Felix and the festival led to a remarkable reversal, with the entire board resigning after reinstating Felix to her original position.
The most amazing and heartening part of the whole experience was the way the community rallied to support this festival," says Felix. People so appreciate that we bring the most eloquent and soulful jazz artists in the world to Healdsburg. But none of this could have happened without the love and support of the musicians, who have stepped up to save a festival they really believe in."
Most evenings offer a mini-festival, presenting an array of artists, often in unprecedented configurations, packing a season's worth of music into 10 days.
The festival opens on Friday, June 3, with a dazzling triple bill featuring passionately lyrical pianist Fred Hersch, 23-year-old guitar star (and local-boy-made-good) Julian Lage, and gifted pianist Noam Lemish.
On Saturday, June 4, the All Star Vocal Day on the Green highlights Northern California's sensational array of vocal talent with Madeline Eastman, Linda Tillery, Kenny Washington, Bobbe Norris, Jackie Ryan, Ed Reed, Rhonda Benin and others. The rhythm sections feature a mix of New York and Bay Area heavyweights, such as pianists George Cables, Larry Dunlap, and Tammy Hall and drum maestro Billy Hart.
On Sunday, June 5, the All Star Latin Jazz on the Green program brings an irresistible tropical vibe to Healdsburg, starting with the John Santos Sextet with percussion great Pete Escovedo and Cuban trumpet star Arturo Sandoval. The mini-festival also features the NEA-funded Latin Jazz All-Stars; the fluent Israeli guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and bassist Nilson Matta's Trio with drummer Billy Hart; and the Brazilian Jazz All Stars with guitarists Romero Lubambo, Ricardo Peixoto and Brian Moran, bassist Nilson Matta, vocalists Claudia Villela and Pamela Driggs, reed expert Harvey Wainapel, percussionist Ami Molinelli, and others.
- Thursday, June 9, is Motema Music Night, an evening dedicated to artists recording for the respected and talent-laden label, Motema. The triple bill features revered pianist Geri Allen, whose ravishing solo session, Flying Toward the Sound, earned numerous mentions as one of 2010's best releases; charismatic drummer Babatunde Lea's Tribute to Leon Thomas with powerhouse vocalist Dwight Trible and stellar saxophonist TK Blue; and pianist Marc Cary's protean trio.
- Friday, June 10, offers a rare opportunity to experience Sangam, the spiritually charged communion between visionary tenor saxophonist/flutist Charles Lloyd, Indian tabla legend Zakir Hussain, and drummer extraordinaire Eric Harland. Documented on a live 2006 recording for ECM, the trio has attained luminous new heights whenever the opportunity arises to rejoin forces.
- Saturday, June 11, brings together a stunning array of jazz explorers, starting with a solo set by piano savant Denny Zeitlin. Well-traveled bassist John Heart follows with drummer Lorca Hart's trio, and the evening concludes with pianist George Cables' All Stars featuring vibes great Bobby Hutcherson, altoist Bobby Watson, saxophonist Craig Handy, trumpeter David Weiss, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Victor Lewis.
- Sunday, June 12, starts with a morning of spirituals delivered by the soul-drenched singer Ruth Naomi Floyd, flute virtuoso James Newton, reed expert Bennie Maupin and the generous helping of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival All Stars.
On Sunday night, June 12, the festival concludes with An Evening with Charlie Haden," which includes a screening of Reto Caduff's acclaimed feature-length documentary on Haden, Rambling Boy," an intimate conversation with the legendary bassist, and some musical interludes with special guests TBA soon.
At a time when too many events call themselves jazz festival while paying scant attention to the artists who represent the music at its most profound, Healdsburg stands out as a beacon of authenticity. Instead of proving to be unlucky, the 13th Annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival has turned into an inspirational story about how a belief in the music's power to bring people together turned out to be prophetic.
For more details about the past controversy including articles, over 70 postings, etc, please see the sidebar Jazz Triumphs" on the Festival's homepage, healdsburgjazzfestival.org
Ticket sales and information for public: online or at 800 838-3006 (on sale April 1)