What: Late Night at the Lobby
Who: Sylvia Cuenca Trio with Paul Horvath and Gary Brown
Where: Hotel Healdsburg Lobby, 25 Matheson Street
When: 9 pm -Midnight | No Cover
Drummers keep time, of course, but a great drummer can stop time. That’s when you’re sitting enveloped in a rhythm blanket so cozy that you can’t imagine doing anything else. Sylvia Cuenca gives you that feeling. A San Jose native long established in New York, Cuenca has several attributes of jazz’s great drummers – the forward motion of Philly Joe Jones, the crispness of Roy Haynes, the funkiness of Jack DeJohnette, the gravity-free swing of Billy Higgins. She has backed many greats, including Clark Terry, Joe Henderson, Gary Bartz, Marian McPartland, Etta Jones and dozens more, but it’s obvious that she needs to be a leader. She drives a group, but not in a domineering way. It’s that rhythm blanket thing.
For the Friday and Saturday late-night gigs at the Hotel Healdsburg’s Fireside Lobby, Cuenca has lined up two players who bring extra flair to their jazz. Gary Brown is an ultra-versatile bassist whose keen rhythmic sensibility has got him work in movies and TV as well as straight-ahead and Latin jazz bands. He has worked for years in the bands of Flora Purim and Airto, so you know he’s got the Brazilian thing down. Leaders who have sought him out include Pete and Sheila Escovedo, Steve Winwood, Roy Ayers, Paul McCandless and Lou Rawls.
Cuenca’s pianist Peter Horvath was a star in Hungary at a young age, studying classics at the Bela Bartok Conservatory and at Vienna’s Conservatory. Jazz was his calling, though, and he honed it at the Berklee College of Music, afterward getting calls from Joe Henderson, Eddie Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Arturo Sandoval, Lalah Hathaway, Melba Moore, among many others.
In past Healdsburg Jazz Festivals, the hotel gigs have been where surprises happen. Guests often come by to sit in. With Cuenca at the kit, who could resist?