Presented by Gualala Arts and taking place during the Smithsonian Institute’s Jazz Appreciation Month of April, this highly regarded festival captures inspired, original jazz art work, whale education, jazz films, poetry and jazz, an annual Chowder Challenge and tasting and live music in atmospheric and beautiful settings, conducive to a special coastal experience. The venues include wineries and restaurants, inns from Timber Cove to Point Arena, a wine bar, casino, the classically restored Arena Theater and the Gualala Arts Center nestled in the coastal redwoods.
Entertainment, inspiration and education, the uplifting goals of this Festival, are epitomized by outreach to local students through school presentations. These have included both whale and jazz oriented programs tailored to encourage youthful enthusiasm for both.
Jazz as defined by indigenous and spontaneous melodic and rhythmic improvisation is indeed a vital, essential and hugely significant cultural art form, and is unique to the American heritage, as evidenced by the recent gala opening of the prestigious SF Jazz Center. All styles of this musical expression are presented at this Festival.
We are honored by your attendance, as the Festival’s life force is dependent upon spirited support and appreciation. We love and welcome your interest and participation!
Fred Adler, Festival Music Coordinator
Sonoma ~ Mendocino Coast Whale & Jazz Festival Committee:
David “Sus” Susalla, Fred Adler, Jan Harris
Download the 2016 Whale & Jazz Festival Program
2016 Festival Schedule
Jazz for the Schools – Tuesday, March 22
Baku, an improvisational ensemble
Private event for the schools at Gualala Arts Center
Jazz Legends Sketched Live At San Francisco’s Historic Keystone Korner, 1981-83
(The Fred Adler Collection) – Exhibit opening Friday, April 1, 5-7 p.m.
Artist Kristen Wetterhahn. Collection includes Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie. All 26 sketches signed by the famous musicians.
Gualala Arts Center foyer. 707-884-1138; free admission.
St. Orres & Jazz – Friday, April 1, 6 & 8 pm seatings
Susan Sutton, keyboard; Joel Kruzic, guitar and acoustic bass
Musical magic on originals and standards. Dining reservations recommended. 707-884-3335
215 Main & Jazz – Saturday, April 2, 7pm
Kawela Bay Five featuring Chris Doering, guitar; Hal Forman, trumpet; Michael Gold, tenor and soprano sax; Don Watanabe, bass; Gabe Yanez, drums.
“Cool School” intuitive instrumental interplay meets “hard bop rhythmic propulsion.” Swinging standards & more. Paninis, drinks. 707-882-3215
Arena Theater Jazz Film – Monday, April 4, 7pm
“Lady Be Good, Instrumental Women in Jazz” (2014 / 80 min) Q&A with director Kay Ray via phone or Skype. Plus Betty Boop cartoon with Louis Armstrong.
Heralded documentary about women’s contributions to jazz (1920s-1970s) & development of all-woman groups despite rampant discrimination. Includes rare footage. $10 public / members free. 707-882-3456
Killer Whales, Wolves of the Sea: The makings of a top predator – Thursday, April 7, 7pm
Jodi Smith, Founder of Naked Whale Research and Orca expert captivates audiences with her presentations. Gualala Arts Center. 707-884-1138
Pier Chowder House & Jazz – Friday, April 8, 6:30 – 9pm
Paul McCandless Trio
McCandless, oboe, bass clarinet, English horn, sax, pennywhistle; Christian Foley Beining, guitar; Tom Shader, upright bass.
Three time Grammy Award winner renowned multi-reedist / composer McCandless with two extraordinary accompanists playing fascinating originals & standards. Reservations recommended. 707-882-3400
Arena Theater & SF Ocean Film Festival – Saturday, April 9, 4pm & 7pm
Pt. Arena Film Festival in partnership with the 13th Annual SF International Ocean Film Festival showcasing films depicting the power & mystery of the ocean (whales, wildlife & more). Sponsored by the Greater Farallones Marine Sanctuary. 707-882-3456
Sea Ranch Lodge & Jazz – Friday, April 15, 5:30pm & 8pm seatings
Ian Scherer, guitar; Joel Kruzic, acoustic bass & guitar.
Glowing renditions of European Jazz, Latin & standards. Black Point Grill, reservations recommended. 707-785-2371
Main Event (double-bill) – Saturday, April 16, 7pm
Yancie Taylor Quintet with James Bailey on saxophone and flute, plus Glen Pearson, piano; Pierre Archain, upright bass; and Ran Zell Merritt Sr., drums; AND The Gypsy Trio with Ian Scherer, guitar; Joel Kruzic, guitar; Michael Price, bass.
2016 “Festival Youth Discovery” guitarist 17-year-old Brian Hingerty joins headliners. Art Edibles sushi available. $28 advance, $5 more day of, youth 7-17 free. Gualala Arts Center. 707-884-1138 brownpapertickets.com
215 Main Poetry & Jazz – Thursday, April 21, 7pm
Poet Jason Bayani and Poets Jazz Ensemble
Acclaimed poet reading his works, accompanied by spontaneous improvised jazz. Open poets mic. Food & drink. 707-882-3215
Chowder & Jazz – Saturday, April 23, 11:30am – 2:30pm
Barnebey’s Hot Four (Tom Barnebey, cornet; Robert Young, reeds; Carl Lunsford, banjo, guitar; Marty Eggers, bass).
Proud & authentic New Orleans Traditional Jazz & Chowder Challenge $20 advance, $5 more day of (for 15 tasting tickets & commemorative glass). Free admission for music only. Gualala Arts Center 707-884-1138 / brownpapertickets.com
215 Main & Jazz Encore Event – Saturday, April 23, 7pm
The Mendocino Coast Quartet with special guest Mad Duran (Mad Duran, saxophone/flute; Tim Mueller, guitar; Chris Doering, guitar; Keith Abrams, bass; Gabe Yanez, drums).
Riveting improvised excursions on both originals and familiar songs. Food & drink available. 707-882-3215
215 Main & The Groove Factor – Friday, May 6, 8pm
Paul Mueller, tenor sax; Tim Mueller, guitar; Chris Doering, guitar; Keith Abrams, bass guitar; Gabe Yanez, drums.
Scorching James Brown groove! Dancing! Food & drink available. 707-882-3215
Fireside Room & Jazz – Thursday, May 12, 6pm
Mad Cow with Harrison Goldberg, reeds; Charlie Vally, vocals; Dorian May, piano; Dorothea May, double bass; Gabe Yanez, drums.
Infectious vocal and exceptional instrumental showcasing standards and swing. Food & drink available. 707-785-2371
Casino & Boogie Woogie – Saturday, May 14, 8:30pm
Queen of boogie woogie piano Wendy Dewitt and superb drummer Kirk Harwood.
This duo shines with authenticity & romping exuberance. Food & drink available. 707-467-5300
Annapolis Winery & Jazz – Saturday, June 11, 1-4pm
Terry Rodriguez, keyboard; Francis Vanek, tenor sax; Tim Mueller, guitar; Joani Rose, vocals.
Masterful, straight ahead standards & originals plus inspired, creative excursions. Bring a picnic, enjoy wine tasting and listen to some great jazz. 707-886-5460
An Historic Finale: “From Swing to Bop, A Jazz History” – CANCELED
Saturday, June 25, 7pm
Larry Vuckovich, piano; Josh Workman, guitar; Jeff Chambers, upright bass; Fred Adler, host.
Performance, historic film clip, commentary. A unique & important event with well-known & brilliant veterans of the jazz scene. Martini bar. $28 advance, $5 more day of, youth 7-17 free. Gualala Arts Center. 707-884-1138 / brownpapertickets.com
About the Whale & Jazz Festival
The “Mendonoma” Coast extends from the Fort Ross State Historic Park in northern Sonoma County to Elk in Mendocino County. This breathtaking stretch of northern California is known for its rugged beauty and quiet wilderness.
More than fifty miles of spectacular coastline is punctuated with pocket coves and sandy beaches providing access to residents and visitors alike for recreation, wildlife viewing and scenic vistas. Highway One acts as the lifeline and “Main Street” to the towns and villages along this stretch of coast.
Nature’s splendor, along with the tranquil pace of coastal living has long attracted a wide spectrum of residents including ranchers, loggers, tradespeople, writers, artists and professionals. From this diverse blend of personalities, the cultural scene is filled with hometown picnics, quality art exhibitions, concerts, theatrical performances, fairs and several festivals.
The Whale & Jazz Festival came about in 2003 when Karel Metcalf, (then Executive Director of Gualala Arts) and Jan Harris, (then Executive Director of the Redwood Coast Chamber of Commerce), collaborated to create an event that would bring visitors to the coast during a ‘shoulder’ season.
Metcalf envisioned a Jazz Festival, as the well-established Sonoma County jazz festivals in Guerneville on the Russian River, in Healdsburg and the town of Sonoma were a big draw to their respective areas, so why not try one here?
Harris wished to emulate the two-decade-old Whale Festivals in Mendocino Village and Fort Bragg, especially since the same Gray whales passed Gualala during their annual migration north every spring. Inevitably, they combined the two ideas.and the Whale & Jazz Festival was born.
Following Metcalf’s retirement in 2004, new Gualala Arts Executive Director, David “Sus” Susalla, along with KTDE 100.5 FM radio personality and jazz aficionado, Fred Adler, joined Harris as the Festival Steering Committee.
Fred Adler took on the role of Festival Music Coordinator and media champion with his on-the-air Coastal Interviews that often focus on Festival musicians, his jazz programming and his remarkable knowledge of the genre. As the Festival grew, local businesses and individuals came on board as Festival venues, Chowder Challenge chefs, marketing and technical support and volunteers.
Starting modestly with only a couple of events over a single weekend, this coastal festival has become a major attraction that includes many diverse jazz events from Timber Cove to Point Arena throughout the entire month of April. Events occur at Gualala Arts Center, several local restaurants, Arena Theater, Annapolis Winery and notable sites like Fort Ross Historic State Park and Point Arena Historic Lighthouse.
Local lodging establishments offer discount packages to Whale & Jazz Festival attendees. In addition to world-class jazz music, the gray whale migration that continues during the Festival is celebrated with educational and ecological activities suitable for the entire family.
Gualala Arts is a community arts organization, located in Gualala, California and run by paid staff and numerous volunteers.
The Gualala Arts Center, a magnificent structure on eleven acres of redwood grounds, serves this area with art exhibits, workshops & classes, classical & popular music performances, theater, lectures and five well-established, annual festivals: Whale & Jazz Festival, Fine Arts Fair, Art in the Redwoods, Studio Discovery Tour and Festival of Trees.
Statement of Purpose
Our purpose is to provide quality festival concert venues and audiences in the redwoods of the Northern California Sonoma ~ Mendocino Coast, presenting a diverse palette of the highest caliber of creative forces.
This purpose allows these artists to both perform their original works and to showcase their instrumental and vocal virtuosity to entertain and educate. We also reach out to local students of all ages and their teachers, through unique lecture / music performances.
2016 Festival Sponsor
2016 Platinum Sponsor
2016 Gold Sponsors
2016 Silver Sponsors
Ginny Rubin & Dick Warmer
2016 Bronze Sponsors
Gualala Super Market
Erin Riley and John Crowley
2016 Friends of the Whale & Jazz Festival
Anchor Bay Market
Black Point Grill at The Sea Ranch Lodge
Buckhorn Grill at Boonville
Gualala Arts Tuesday Guys
KTDE 100.5 FM
Pier Chowderhouse and Tap Room
Tanya Radtkey, Black Oak Catering