May 31 – John Heard Quartet at the Shed

John Heard
John Heard by George Wells

What: Jazz at the Shed
Where: Healdsburg Shed, 25 North Street
Time: 8 pm | Tickets: $25

Tickets Sold OutThe 2013 Healdsburg Jazz Festival comes roaring out of the gate when the John Heard Quartet plays at a brand-new venue, the Healdsburg SHED. Heard – reportedly Count Basie’s favorite bassist – has assembled a multi-generational band featuring  Dayna Stephens on tenor sax, Akira Tana on drums, and Kenneth Nash on percussion.

The chemistry here is combustible, and it will be enhanced by the strikingly designed setting at the Healdsburg SHED,  a market, café, coffee bar, fermentation bar and events space where locals and visitors alike gather to shop, eat, learn, and celebrate food and community. The SHED’s owner, Doug Lipton, knows his way around a guitar, too, and will sit in with the quartet for a few numbers.

John Heard, 74,  has provided potent backing for most of the legends of swing and bop, including Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Ella Fitzgerald. Heard’s swing is bedrock and impeccable.  

Akira TanaComparatively young at 61, Akira Tana is directly in the line of Max Roach-inspired impetuous drummers, meaning the other players are  really going to have to watch their rears. Which must not be that big of a problem, as artists ranging from Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, and Milt Jackson to Jim Hall, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Gunther Schuller have opted to have Tana kick it for them.

Kenneth NashAdd to the mix Kenneth Nash, who has been enhancing bands with international rhythms since the early ’60s – Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, the Pointer Sisters, Weather Report and dozens more.

Finally, Stephens comes in with a sound that’s right out of post-bop tenor titans like Sonny Rollins,  John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson.  Stephens, 34,  shares with them the gift of extended narrative, capable of stitching together  all the threads of this remarkable group.

Dayna Stephens by Christopher Drukker

He is yet another Bay Area export to New York, where he works frequently with fellow erstwhile Bay Area stars Julian Lage and Taylor Eigsti, and he’s played with Kenny Barron, Terrence Blanchard, Gretchen Parlato and many others who want a fresh, robust tenor sound.

This is the way to start off a festival, on a high note.