D Kevin McNeirLifestyle

DC JazzFest Returns for Another Year, Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Features Tributes, Talent, Tastes and Teachers of the Tradition

Mark your calendars, jazz aficionados!

The 2019 DC Jazz Festival (DCJF) – unique in its stead as the only citywide jazz festival in the mid-Atlantic region – returns June 7 – 16 with a stellar lineup of artists poised to usher in the Festival’s 15th anniversary in grand style.

Show-stopping talent features the full gambit of the jazz world from Joshua Redman Quartet, D.C. favorite-Snarky Puppy, Jose James, Terri Lyne Carrington, Stefon Harris, Michael Franks – even Patti Austin who’ll perform during a special tribute to her godfather, Quincy Jones.

In keeping with tradition for the largest and most diverse music festival in the nation’s capital, now reaching more than 110,000 residents and citizens of all ages, will include The Wharf, The Anthem, the Kennedy Center, UDC/Jazz Alive, City Winery, The Hamilton Live, Mr. Henry’s, Sotto, Twins Jazz, Kreeger Museum, Franklin Square and a myriad of area clubs, galleries, places of worship, colleges and universities and restaurants.

Two historic concerts, a collaboration between Events DC, the presenting organization of DC JazzFest, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, feature DCJF’s Great Masters of Jazz, honoring the lifetime achievements of Quincy Jones, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn and Roy Hargrove on June 16; and Celebrating Randy Weston, on June 9, providing a showcase for piano mastery in recognition of Weston.

Great Masters of Jazz, the final party of the 15thAnniversary DC JazzFest, promises to be a musical celebration paying tribute to the life and work of the iconic legend Quincy Jones, the highly-influential song stylist Nancy Wilson, who died Dec. 13, 2018; the trailblazing trumpeter-bandleader Roy Hargrove and DC’s own peerless pianist-vocalist Shirley Horn in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Featured performers and presenters include Austin, the Roy Hargrove Big Band, Justin Kauflin, Adam Clayton Powell III, Congressman John Lewis, Angela Stribbling, Sharón Clark, and other special guests.

The DC Jazz Festival will bestow its annual Lifetime Achievement Awards to Quincy Jones and DC saxophonist-educator Fred Foss in recognition of their stellar contributions to jazz music. Past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients include: Chucho Valdes, Nasar Abadey, Billy Hart, Sadao Watanabe, Roy Haynes, Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, James Moody, Ellis Marsalis, George Wein, Buck Hill, Hank Jones, Clark Terry, Billy Taylor and Dave Brubeck.

Celebrating Randy Weston will feature stellar pianists Marc Cary, a Duke Ellington School of the Arts grad, and Rodney Kendrick joined by three members of Weston’s acclaimed African Rhythms band: bassist Alex Blake, saxophonist TK Blue and African percussionist Neil Clarke. Weston, who died Sept. 1, 2018, will be remembered as an extraordinary pianist and distinctive composer revered around the world for his intersection between jazz and African music. Held in the Family Theater, the evening will be a musical dialogue among pianists.

“I had the distinct honor of co-writing Randy Weston’s autobiography, African Rhythms, and can guarantee the evening will be a joyous celebration of his rich, peerless artistry,” said DC JazzFest Artistic Director Willard Jenkins. “This concert will be a musical dialogue between three pianists and three of his longtime band members who idolized Weston and were indelibly influenced by his musical quest and his deep reverence for our collective African roots.”

DC Jazz Festival’s Jazz in the ‘Hoods returns to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage for seven free performances (6 p.m.) with  the series The Nat Cole Tradition: Singing Pianists, celebrating the centennial of the late, great vocalist Nat “King” Cole, whose storied career began as a singing pianist. Th series will include piano/vocal performances by Kelly Green, Amy K. Bormet, Trent Cokley, Noa Fort, Barry Gurley, Micah Smith, Allison Crockett and Eric Byrd, accompanied by their respective bands.

And as its name suggests, Jazz in the ‘Hoods will extend its musical treats throughout the District in more than 20 in concerts curated by partners including the Hamilton Live and City Winery.

Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days, Prelude Weekend, June 1-2, will showcase two days of jazz and the visual arts with performances by more than a dozen regional artists and rising star ensembles.

And that’s just the beginning!

For more information, including concert updates and ticketing information, go to dcjazzfest.org.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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