Leave it to Jessica Felix to slip in a Brazilian jazz mini-festival this year after all. Saturday night, Aug. 20, the guitar duo Romero Lubambo and Chico Pinheiro perform at 7pm. The next night they play at a champagne reception and double-bill concert, with Claudia Villela and Pamela Driggs delivering the goods from the small, black stage at The 222, at 222 Healdsburg Ave.
It’s a nonprofit entertainment venue housed within the for-profit art gallery Paul Mahder has run since 2014. The Aug. 21 show specifically celebrates the “first birthday” of The 222, and its launch of a regular season as an entertainment venue.
Felix, who served as musical director of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival through 2020, had staged several jazz events there in the past. She came on board with The 222 after she returned from a hiatus in the Caribbean, and worked with Mahder on developing the concept.
“I wanted it to be an intimate and comfortable space that people would enjoy often coming to,” she told the Tribune. “Hence the cabaret seating, the tiered price system, with reserved seating and concierge volunteers.” That primarily means someone to show you to your seat at the bistro-style tables, Felix said.
“There’s always been a love affair between Brazilian music and jazz,” she added. “Americans started hearing Brazilian music with the Stan Getz-Joao Gilberto ‘Girl from Ipanema,’ but jazz musicians have always been tuned in to Brazil.” She called Lubambo and Pinheiro “great musicians, two of the top Brazilian guitarists of our time right now.”
Sunday’s celebration concert also features Bay Area-resident Claudia Villela, who is well-known locally for her soaring and evocative vocals, though she’s also an accomplished pianist and composer. She will perform with Pamela Driggs, a Nevada native with a lifelong passion for Brazilian music, who studied in Salvador, Bahia.
Felix is curating several other jazz programs during the next nine months at the art gallery-turned-concert venue. Among them: Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton in solo performance (Sept. 10); the gypsy-jazz-oriented Django Festival Allstars (Nov. 19), the return of popular solo-pianist Marc Cary for two concerts (Dec. 17 and 18); vocalist Mary Stallings with pianist David Udolf (March 25); and the season’s finale, saxophone-legend Charles Lloyd and pianist Gerald Clayton (May 27).
A few tickets are still available for each evening, online at the222.org.