The 17th annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival gets under way tonight with a must-see event, as vocalist Ed Reed collaborates with Anton Schwartz (saxophone), Adam Shulman (piano) and John Wiitala (bass) to survey and celebrate the landmark John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album. The weekend also includes a Sunday blues brunch at Sonoma Cutrer Vineyards with vocalist Terrie Odabi and Evolution Blues featuring Terry Hiatt (guitar), Ken Cook (keyboards), Kirk Crumpler (bass) and William Norwood (drums).
In between is “Jazz and the Music of the Americas,” which will be presented Saturday and Sunday nights at the Jackson Theatre in Santa Rosa. This festival-within-a-festival interweaves musicians and idioms from Brazil, Argentina and the Caribbean and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. (Full disclosure: I wrote the successful NEA proposal for Healdsburg Jazz.)
Romero Lubambo figures prominently in Saturday’s performance. The first set pairs the acclaimed guitarist with Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza while in the second his Trio da Paz, which includes Nilson Matta (bass) and Duduka da Fonseca (drums), collaborates with piano legend Kenny Barron. “Jazz and the Music of the Americas” concludes Sunday with set by the Pablo Ziegler Jazz Trio and the Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Septet.
Founded in 1990, Trio da Paz plays an infectious blend of jazz and Brazilian rhythms, guitar to the fore but with an infectious swing in tow. Here is a group whose every song speaks simultaneously to the global influence of jazz and the globe’s impact on jazz. I had the opportunity to interview Lubambo a few years back and here’s what he had to say about the group.
Question: Looking back, what were the members’ goals and intentions in forming the trio? How do you think you’ve done in attaining them?
Lubambo: Trio da Paz started with us playing for fun in the basement of Duduka’s building in NYC. We would go there and play in the afternoons just because we felt so good doing that. So we didn’t think about goals that time. One day, Duduka recorded a track with us for his instructional book and put the credit for Trio da Paz (a name Nilson had suggested).
And we started playing with that formation as much as possible. But we all had other gigs to do. So, since the only goal for us was to have fun together, I think we did great because it became a nice business and pleasure to play together.
Question: No group can flourish as long as yours without some serious personal and musical connections among the members.
Lubambo: This group started, like I said, because of three friends – Nilson, Duduka and I.
Nilson was my friend before we came to the States. We came here together in 1985. Duduka was here 10 years before us. We knew about him but it was here in the first week in New York that we became friends.
Together, we felt in peace every time we were together making music. I think this friendship counts a lot for the success of our music. Like you said, this is a very important factor to success. We love to be together and laugh together. And we do that a lot. So, when on the stage, that’s what comes out in the music.