What do an American art form, an ancient Greek style of architecture, and a Sonoma City Councilmember from 90 years ago have in common? In most cities, not much of anything. But Sonoma is special in more ways than meets the eye.

The answer lies in the vision of Sonoma City Councilmember A. R. “Ray” Grinstead, who prodded the City of Sonoma to turn a cow field into the Plaza as we know it today. That is one reason the amphitheater is named after him. Secondly, an amphitheater is a Greek design. And the American art form? Jazz.

They all come together this summer with the Sonoma Jazz Society’s 2018 Summer Concert series. The Latin rhythms, the improvisations, and those ever popular diminished triads all hit the downbeat Tuesday, June 12. These nights are always a hit with the Tuesday market audiences, and a real treat for the Sonoma Valley.

The Sonoma Valley Jazz Society has been around for some 30 years. During that time, an active board of directors, now lead by local guitarist Lena Perlas, has delivered live performances and dished out scholarship funds to children and adults alike. Their vision statement is to “enhance an appreciation of jazz as an American art form….”

The June 12 offering by the Jazz Society features Jamie Dubberly & Orquestra Dharma. The band began in 2008 as a studio project of Dubberly’s to record some original Afro-Cuban jazz material he had written. The project has turned into the recording of two successful albums and live performances all over Northern California.

The musical docket for July 10 features the Leon Joyce Quartet. Drummer Joyce has worked with a litany of jazz greats – including Ramsey Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Smokey Robinson and Larry Coryell. They have appeared in several of the top international jazz festivals. His style could be considered standard jazz, but there is nothing standard about his appearance in Sonoma.

Tuesday, Aug. 14, finds the Jemal Ramirez Group taking the stage at Grinstead. We are talking “sinewy grooves, lush harmonies, and inviting melodies.” These five pieces promise to deliver a great performance, one that we are not soon to forget.

September 11 is the day that Tony Lindsay and the Michael O’Neill Quintet play.. Those lucky people who were at the Reel recently for the Ray Charles Tribute show saw Tony Lindsay tear it up. He’s been a vocalist in Santana, but tonight he fronts a true all star jazz ensemble. Again, the SVJS scored big time with this quintet.

The horseshoe will be acoustic, and quieter in nature so as not to compete with the featured performers who are working just a hundred yards away in the Grinstead Amphitheater. All the usual caveats and advice apply for the series; bring some money and spend it. Bring something soft to sit upon and use it, and have a great time, Sonoma-style.

Visit sonomavalleyjazzsociety.org.