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D.C. Gets All Jazzed Up

Stacy M. Brown | 6/7/2013, 3:31 p.m.
When it comes to jazz, the nation’s capital proudly sits on top of the list of cities that holds some ...
The Roots

When it comes to jazz, the nation’s capital proudly sits on top of the list of cities that holds some of the best festivals each year.

That, in no small way, can be attributed to Charles Fishman the president, executive producer and founder of the D.C. Jazz Festival.

“The fact that Washington, D.C. didn’t have a jazz festival before this really [annoyed] me,” Fishman said, just days before the 9th annual celebration kicked off.

“I remember writing some ideas down on a legal pad, which my wife still jokes about today, and putting it all together from there. We just had to have a festival here because jazz is our music, our history and this is Washington, D.C.,” Fishman said.

The festival kicked off on Tuesday, June 5 and is scheduled to run through June 16.

With more than 100 performances in dozens of venues across the District, the event is the largest music festival in the nation’s capital and one of the most highly anticipated cultural events in the country.

Led by Fishman, organizers also present year-round music education programs and concerts for local students and residents featuring talent from D.C., and around the world.

Among the more anticipated events during the festival is the highly popular, “Jazz in the Hoods,” which features no less than 80 performances at 40 neighborhood venues in each quadrant of the city.

Jazz in the Hoods will showcase such acclaimed artists as Lionel Loueke, Gerald Cleaver, Tim Green, Vince Evans, John McLaughlin, Susana Baca and many others.

“The idea is that no matter where you live in D.C., you can come outside your home and hear jazz and the see jazz musicians,” said Sunny Sumter, the executive director of the festival.

“Visitors who are in the city also benefit because they can go anywhere and they will see jazz musicians during the festival. So many people will tell you that they like going to the Kennedy Center and places like that, but most will also tell you that they love going to the neighborhoods and hearing jazz,” said Sumter, a Howard University graduate.

Jazz in the Hoods is a unique concept, added Fishman.

“It offers an exciting experience, augmenting larger festival events, in the intimate atmospheres of local establishments and hotspots,” he said.

With an array of artists scheduled throughout, Fishman and Sumter could easily be counted among the top attractions, if they were performing.

Sumter has performed at many popular venues around the world, including the Lincoln Center in New York, the Camelot Jazz Club in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the LaVilla Jazz Club in Paris.

She is also the recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts Fellowship and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award.

Fishman is widely recognized as being among the foremost producers of jazz concerts, festivals and tours.

He was the personal manager and producer of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and he has produced nine audio recordings and five television programs that have aired on Public Broadcasting Service, ABC, Bravo, and the BBC.