Jazz Weekend at Jackson Theater

The countdown continues …

In just two weeks the 13th annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival begins with Opening Night at the Raven on June 3, as we told you in our last e-blast. This time we take a look at the first weekend — Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, now to be held at the Sonoma County Day School’s Jackson Theater.

JUNE 4, SATURDAY “One Voice: An Afternoon of Vocal Jazz”

One VoiceWhen many of us think of jazz we think of saxophones or trumpets or drummers or pianos, or maybe that stand-up bass that holds it all together. But over the 20th century perhaps the most popular jazz musicians have been singers — Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, and of course Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra.

Every year at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival we make it a point to bring exceptional vocalists to the stage to continue this tradition, and this year we decided to go the whole nine yards and devote an entire “day on the green” to the deep vocal traditions of jazz.

So here it is — One Voice: An Afternoon of Vocal Jazz, from 4 pm to sunset (8 pm) at Rec Park Jackson Theater. Although we call it “One Voice,” in fact we’re celebrating the diversity of pipes that bring songs alive, from the wide range of vocal traditions, backed by some of the solid musicians you’ve come to expect from HJF.

Start with the swinging repertoire of Jackie Ryan, the sultry sound of Bobbe Norris, and the soul-bearing musical storyteller, 82-year old Ed Reed. Their mix of voices and styles will set the stage for an afternoon of favorite songs and new discoveries. Back-up band includes pianist Larry Dunlap, bassist Robb Fisher, drummer Jim Zimmerman and Noel Jewkes on saxophone.

The second set gets us in a more soulful mood, with the a cappella talents of Rhonda Benin bringing forth the African-American experience though the jazz divas who inspired her. The charasmatic crooner Nicholas Bearde brings his voice to the stage, filling Rec Park with the deep soul of Lou Rawls, Nat “King” Cole and the inimitable Arthur Prysock.

By now the sunset will be casting its magic spell, and a pair of talents enchant with their vocal charms: Madeline Eastman and Kenny Washington inspire and persuade with their technical and rhythmic talents, while the band of George Cables, Peter Barshay, Billy Hart and saxophonist Rob Roth makes a great show even better.

JUNE 5, SUNDAY “Latin Jazz in Concert”

For the fourth year in a row, we take over Rec Park Join us at the Jackson Theater or a Festival Sunday with a Latin beat, from 1 to 6 pm. Subtitled “A Pan-American Journey,” this year’s Latin Jazz on the Green brings back some of our favorite performers and adds the spices of new blood and exotic talents.

Latin JazzThe first act sets the stage — guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, bassist Nilson Matta, and drummer Billy Hart, bringing the elements of jazz tradition through an Afro-Brazilian filter. Next, a number of Brazilian All-Stars reunite on our stage, including guitarists Romero Lubambo, Brian Moran and Ricardo Peixoto, Rio’s own vocalist Claudia Villela and percussionist Ami Molinelli, and reeds master Harvey Wainapel. The sounds of the Southern Hemisphere never sounded so sweet.

It’s when the John Santos Sextet shows up with not one but two “secret weapons” — we call them “special guests” — that things reach another level. Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval won the first-ever Grammy for Latin music, and Bay Area percussionist and bandleader Pete Escovedo is in a class of his own.

This set is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, because Latin jazz is a global treasure!

REMEMBER: Many if not most of the artists appearing at the 13th annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival are donating their time and performances to helIMG_8583p the Festival stay healthy for the coming years. We extend them our deepest gratitude, and hope you support their generoisty with your attendance.  Tickets are now on sale for the Festival — just go to the 2011 Festival Schedule page to find links to each concert with tickets.

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. See you at the 13th Annual Healdsburg Jazz FestivalDon’t miss it this time!