1st Annual Jazz Picnic

Sierra Jazz Society presents the first ever Bill Douglass and Nora Nausbaum Jazz Picnic taking place at 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 1, at Pioneer Park in Nevada City. The picnic concert is free to attend, but donations are welcome. All donations will go toward the musicians, the Sierra Jazz Society Scholarship fund, and the production costs for the show.

The Sierra Jazz Society is proud to announce that international recording artist Clairdee and Sacramento leading jazz vocalist Beth Duncan will be joined by a special appearance by Bill Douglass, Bay Area musical dignitaries Ruth Davies and Ken French, and the Sierra Jazz Society faculty with John Girton on guitar, Jason Wilkins on bass, Matt Langley on sax, and Kit Bailey and David Clouse on drums and percussion, and the return of long time faculty member Dave Tidball on sax and clarinet.

Bill Douglass and Nora Nausbaum

The concert will be a celebration of Bill Douglass’ and Nora Nausbaum’s contributions to the music of Nevada County and the Sierra Jazz Society over the past two decades.  The non-profit Sierra Jazz Society was created by Bill and Nora in 2003 and is been dedicated to jazz workshops, annual music camps and performance in Nevada County.  Since Bill and Nora retired from the Jazz Society after Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the helm is now taken by a new Board of Directors consisting of David Clouse, Matt Langley, and Peter Wilson; all seasoned musicians, educators, and promoters that look forward to continuing both the educational work and performance series, beginning with this special event.

Bill Douglass grew up in Nevada County, and as the inspiration for the Sierra Jazz Society Bill has played bass with many jazz greats including Marian McPartland, Mose Allison, Bobby McFerrin, and Tom Waits among many others.  During the course of his career Bill has recorded over 100 albums and also performed on many film and TV scores including The Black Stallion, Disney’s Never Cry Wolf, 1,000 Pieces of Gold, and National Geographic Specials.

And while Bill has provided the inspiration Nora Nausbaum (with the indispensable help from Julia Glasse) provided the perspiration in the form of countless hours of work over the years.  Nora is a classically trained flutist with a Master Degree in Music Performance from New England Conservatory of Music, and has taught at Northern Michigan University and Arkansas State University at Jonesboro.  Nora will continue playing locally with the Amaryllis Trio as well as jazz in addition to continuing her private teaching practice.

Beth Duncan

The Sierra Jazz Society has the great fortune to bring jazz sensation Clairdee to star in the picnic in the park along with Beth Duncan and Ruth Davies.  Clairdee, a recipient of the 2018 recipient of the Bay Area Jazz and Blues Artist Lifetime Achievement Award, has performed in leading concert halls, festivals and nightclubs around the world and has collaborated with some of America’s most celebrated jazz masters.  Co-starring the show will be Beth Duncan and Ruth Davies.  Beth is one of the top jazz female vocalists in the greater Sacramento region, and her latest album “Comes The Fall” received strong reviews and won an Independent Music Award (IMA) for best song, debuting on the national CMJ (radio) network at #26 right below Diana Krall.  Ruth currently tours with the Elvin Bishop band and has performed and recorded with a long list of jazz and blues greats including Van Morrison, Maria Muldaur, Etta James, Keb’ Mo’, Charles Brown, Clark Terry, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, and Toots Thielemans, among many others.  In addition to performing and recording Ruth is a seasoned educator having presented music programs to over two thousand school groups.

Bill Douglass started making a name for himself on the San Francisco music scene around 1965.  Mr. Douglass provided the inspired foundation for world class performers including Mose Allison, Marian McPartland, Bobby McFerrin, Terry Riley, Bobby Bradford, Charlie Byrd and many others.

Nora Nausbaum has been playing the flute for over 60 years. After completing her masters in Music at Boston’s New England Conservatory Nora taught at Northern Michigan University and Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. Nora is currently performing with the Amaryllis Trio and is active in the  jazz community while maintaining her private teaching practice.

Beth Duncan is a vibrant jazz vocalist from Sacramento. Her first recording, Orange Colored Sky released in 2005 established Ms. Duncan as a hard swinging  jazz vocalist.  Her 2012 follow-up Comes the Fall gained international attention and extensive airplay with its mix of inventively reworked standards and originals. More than her beautiful voice, Duncan brings emotional intelligence to turn songs into compelling narratives.

Soulful, swinging, and stylish, San Francisco-based jazz singer Clairdee epitomizes the music’s empowering imperative.  She embodies the tradition’s twinned legacy of standing for social justice with glamour and guts. “In the tradition of all great vocalists,” said legendary vocalist Nancy Wilson, Clairdee “infuses each song with her own unique style while always remaining true to the song itself.” Her latest album, A Love Letter to Lena, is a deeply personal celebration of the iconic star Lena Horne, the barrier-shattering African-American movie star, singer, and civil rights activist.

Pianist Ken French has been performing jazz piano professionally for many decades on the San Francisco scene and as far afield as Japan and the Atlantic seaboard. A compelling soloist, thoughtful accompanist, dynamic ensemble leader, and sought after arranger, Ken is a very busy man as in addition to being accompanist, arranger and musical director with Clairdee,

Bassist Ruth Davies discography includes platinum and Grammy-winning CDs with jazz and blues greats including Keb Mo, Charles Brown, Clark Terry, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Jay McShann, Van Morrison, Maria Muldaur, Junior Mance, Barbara Morrison, Etta Jones, Terry Gibbs, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Little Jimmy Scott. She has recorded with Charles Brown, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker, Van Morrison, Clark Terry, Vassar Clements, Toots Thielemans, Ernie Watts, Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Jackie Ryan, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, among others. Lately Ruth has “returned to the roots” and travels with Elvin Bishop’s band.

John Girton is well known throughout the world for his work as lead guitarist with the group “Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks.” John recorded 3 albums with the group, and also wrote and arranged material for them. He was also featured as guitarist, saxophonist, clarinetist, and occasional mandolinist with the popular vocalist, Maria Muldaur for many years.  John is an instrumentalist, vocalist, recording artist, studio musician, and composer. His original songs are a mixture of jazz, swing, blues and folk music, with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

Kit Bailey loves rhythm. Initially drumming in a Scottish bagpipe band at age 11, he subsequently joined school wind ensembles, theater- and ballet pit-orchestras, and symphonic groups, performing with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Newark-Fremont Philharmonic Society, Santa Barbara Symphony, Music in the Mountains, InConcert Sierra, and Sierra Stages. Drum set being the instrument of choice for big bands, jazz combos, and the occasional rock group, Kit (his nickname long before he could play one) finally got to sit down to play. When he moved in 1988 to Nevada County, with its thriving Congolese and West African dance communities, he was inspired to look “upstream” into African drumming’s influence on North American music (of all varieties), Brazilian percussion, Afro-Caribbean drumming, and even many of the rhythms he first discovered in that bagpipe band. Anyone can play percussion, and every time we play any instrument, we go deeper—endlessly, it seems. Kit looks forward to resuming performing and teaching again, post-pandemic.

David Clouse began his career playing with Ron Crotty from the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Terrell Eaton from Bonnie Raitt, and spent several years teaching, playing, and touring through-out the United States.  Since 2012 David has been living in Nevada County and performs extensively with a long list of people that includes Bill Douglass, Achilles Wheel, Ralph Hammer (from Stevie Wonder), and Dream and the Dreamer, among others.

Saxophonist Matt Langley recently relocated to Nevada City from southern Maine. Though he studied briefly with Lou Marini, David Baker, Ted Dunbar, and Stan Strickland, most of Matt’s education has come on the bandstand. He has recorded extensively with the Charlie Kolhlhase Quintet, his own group Color, with pianist Pandelis Karayorgis’ group System of 5, and with Mike Effenberger’s weirdturnpro. Mr. Langley has also shared the stage or recording studio with Ron Carter, Richie Cole, Fred Hersch, John Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood, Matt Wilson, Tiger Okoshi, Roswell Rudd, Dave Douglas and many others.

Content and photos provided by Peter Wilson