Opening Night Overview

The countdown begins …

At last, the 13th annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival is less than three weeks away – with Opening Night in sight at the Raven Theater on June 3. It’s been a tumultuous and difficult year, but this is what makes it all worth while – the music.

Over the next couple weeks we’ll be sending you f requent messages about the concerts and other festival events. Please bear with us, we think you’ll appreciate the information.

JUNE 3, FRIDAY Fred Hersch with Julian Lage, plus the Noam Lemish Quartet

Fred HerschWhat can we say about Fred Hersch? He’s played at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival a couple times previously to ovations, but all indications are this time will take it to a higher level altogether. A severe health crisis nearly took him from us, but he’s come out of it with wisdom and introspection, and playing the best he ever has.

“Fred Hersch plays one hell of a piano,” said a recent reviewer in All About Jazz. “He’s dipping into that deep pool that Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett have come to and immersed themselves in,” continues the write-up of Hersch’s new release “Alone at the Vanguard” (Palmetto). “…you can hear the whole history of jazz piano coming off his fingers in ways that could only be Fred Hersch.” We truly look forward to welcoming Hersch back to Healdsburg, and anticipate a remarkable experience.

Julian LagePlaying both solo and paired with Hersch will be local guitar star Julian Lage. The Windsor native has played Healdsburg jazz events throughout the past decade, until Gary Burton recruited him for his New Generation ensemble, and his own 2009 solo album “Sounding Point” was nominated for a Grammy. Hersch and Lage met recently and realized they shared musical interests that made a duo performance rewarding for musicians and audience alike. Together, they will provide a world-class concert with home town intimacy that you won’t want to miss.

noam-horzOpening the evening concert will be Noam Lemish, the extremely talented pianist and composer whose year-long sojourn in Bhutan we followed through his blog. Now based in Toronto, the Israel-born, classically trained musician comes back to Healdsburg to perform both solo and with a quartet featuring Jason Carr, bass, Alex Aspinall, drums, and guest saxophonist Matt Rothstein.

As are many performers in this year’s Festival, both Fred Hersch and Julian Lage, as well as Noam Lemish and his band, are donating their time and performances to the Healdsburg Jazz Festival to help ensure its survival. It’s bound to be an auspicious and impressive Opening Night to the 2011 Healdsburg Jazz Festival.

Click here to buy tickets for Opening Night — they won’t last forever!

Sandy CressmanFESTIVAL UPDATE : As we explained on our website, Maria Marquez had to cancel her June 8 appearance at Costeaux Bakery due to health reasons. She highly recommended one person to replace her: Sandy Cressman, the Bay Area singer “with a Brazilian heart.” Playing with the same sidemen — Peter Barshay, Rich Kuhns and Kendrick Freedman — Cressman will bring not only her extensive experience and repertoire of Caribbean and South American songs, but her talented 19-year old daughter Natalie Cressman as well, virtuoso trombonist and singer in her own right. Expect no less than the best at Brazilian Jazz at the Bakery, on Wednesday June 8. Click here for tickets.

REMEMBER: Tickets are now on sale for the 13th Annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival, June 3-12. Just go to the 2011 Festival Schedule page to find links to each concert with tickets. (Ticket sales are handled by Brown Paper Tickets of Seattle — go here to see our full list of ticketed events.)

Keep reading our e-blasts, visit our Facebook page, tune in to our Twitter and check on the Website for updated information on all Festival events. Don’t miss it this time!