Healdsburg Jazz Festival artistic director steps down from her post

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Jessica Felix, the founder and longtime artistic director of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, is stepping down from her post at the end of September.

“I want to relax, travel, socialize and make my jewelry again,” she says. “It’s time to be in the audience. It’s time to just enjoy my life.”

Felix founded the Healdsburg Jazz Festival in 1999 and the event would steadily grow in popularity and acclaim throughout the decades. Over the years, Felix brought such accomplished artists as Charles Lloyd, Randy Weston, Abbey Lincoln, Fred Hersch, Bobby Hutcherson, Jack DeJohnette and Geri Allen to perform for fans in this Russian River city known for wineries, restaurants and tourism.

“I love this music deeply and feel very proud of the vast and diverse array of incredible artists I have presented over the years, bringing many to the West Coast for the first time,” she says.

The festival will continue on without Felix, with organizers planning (and hoping) for 2021 after this year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the festival does resume, however, Felix’s absence will definitely be felt by the local jazz community..

“Not only has Jessica Felix been a true inspiration to me, but she is also one of my very best friends,” says Marcus Shelby, the Bay Area bassist-bandleader who has organized choir projects involving hundreds of Sonoma County amateur singers for the festival over the years. “I met Jessica 30 years ago through Billy Higgins when I was a young musician in L.A.

“She is a treasure to our community and will be missed.”

Yet, Felix believes the festival is in good hands moving forward and will experience much success in the years to come.

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“I have a strong board and staff, and with my artistic director successor — who we’ll be announcing soon — the festival will flourish,” she says.

Felix’s passion for jazz music started right around the time she graduated from high school in Los Angeles in the late-’60s and came across a copy of Charles Lloyd’s magical “Forest Flower” album.

“Listening to it I opened up to new music, a new feeling, a new form. It opened a door to my soul,” she says.

A decade later, she had moved up to San Francisco and was doing jewelry making when she took a part-time job watching the door at the legendary Keystone Korner jazz club on Vallejo Street.

“I didn’t have a lot of money, so I started making these necklaces with the words ‘Bright Moments,’ which are lyrics to a song by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I traded these necklaces for tickets with the club owner, Todd Barkan, so I could get into the club and hear the music,” Felix says.

But she didn’t just listen to the music — she also forged friendships with such artists as George Cables, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Jessica Williams and Billy Higgins.

And Felix is a mighty good friend to have at your side, as illustrated by the fundraisers she organized when Cables and Higgins needed financial help due to their medical conditions.

“When Jessica first …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News


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