This week’s Bohemian Arts Feature is on Vijay Iyer, the great jazz pianist who’s playing the Healdsburg Jazz Festival on June 10. Iyer and I spoke on the phone for about 45 minutes on a variety of subjects, from the challenges facing jazz as a whole to the phone conversations he used to have with Andrew Hill. Naturally, it couldn’t all fit into a 1,000-wd. piece, which is a shame considering Iyer’s very smart, articulate answers. Here are selections from our interview that didn’t make the print paper.
We’ve already reported that Roy Haynes, Vijay Iyer and Sheila Jordan will be at this year’s Healdsburg Jazz Festival, but today’s announcement of the full festival lineup brings in another big name in jazz: Kenny Burrell.
Burrell’s a towering figure in jazz guitar whose bio is too extensive to do justice here. His Blue Lights albums for Blue Note are iconic (love that Andy Warhol cover!). His album with John Coltrane, impeccable. Even local blues guitarist Volker Strifler once asked be to track down a copy of his Bluesin’ Around record, citing it as a major influence. And my personal favorite Kenny Burrell album is Asphalt Canyon Suite, a sublime masterpiece.
Now 80, Burrell plays both solo and in a trio on Saturday, June 9, at the Raven Theater.
Other festival highlights include Calvin Keys Organ Quartet, a quartet led by Freddy Cole (that’s Nat “King” Cole’s brother to you), a concert on the plaza featuring Azesu with Orestes Vilato and Maria Marquez, the Michele Rosewoman Trio, the Lorca Hart Trio, Healdsburg wunderkind Kai Devitt-Lee, the Shotgun Wedding Quintet and many, many more. See the full schedule here.
Announcements for the 2012 Healdsburg Jazz Festival are trickling in, and the first one so far lives up to the festival’s reputation of excellence. On June 10, a jaw-dropping lineup of Roy Haynes, the Vijay Iyer Trio and Sheila Jordan headline Rodney Strong Vineyards in Heladsburg.
I say: Goddamn, Jessica Felix has done it again.
Let’s start with Roy Haynes. The master drummer has played with every jazz great imaginable, starting with Lester Young and Charlie Parker and moving through a you-name-it sea of greats: Coltrane, Dolphy, Getz, Miles, Dizzy, Monk, Rollins, Bud, Art Pepper, Jackie McLean, Andrew Hill. I saw him a few years ago at Yoshi’s with Kenny Garrett and John Pattitucci, and even in his mid-80s, the guy hasn’t lost one drop of power in his thunderous, commanding playing. For reals. He’s a marvel to watch.
Vijay Iyer made what was without a doubt my favorite jazz album of 2009, Historicity—a dense, inventive slab of forward-thinking playing. It wasn’t just the cover of M.I.A.’s “Galang”; it was the completely unique harmonic conception, the static-laden solos, the unpredictable in every minute. Think the Bad Plus, minus some of that trio’s more overt showiness. He’s a must-see.
Not to let an already star-studded show suffer from a lack of further lumination, there’s Sheila Jordan. I found the singer’s 1962 Blue Note album Portrait of Sheila a couple years ago, and it wound up on my 2010 year-end jazz list. After its release, she didn’t record for over a decade. I never thought I’d ever see her, and yet here she is, playing Healdsburg. Just like everyone else who you never thought you’d see. Of course.
The show is on June 10, 2012, at Rodney Strong Winery, made possible in part by a $10,000 NEA Jazz Masters grant that’s only given out to 12 nonprofits nationwide. The fact that the Healdsburg Jazz Festival is one of that small pool of recipients doesn’t surprise me, but it does make me proud for the festival’s ongoing success in the wake of its near-death in 2010 and the irritating fake-jazz festivals it has had to compete with over the years. True art always survives, one way or another, doesn’t it?
Further announcements for the 2012 festival will be made at www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org.