When Autumn Leaves Start to Fall
by Sunny Sumter, Executive Director
As the splendor of autumn prepares us for the change in season, it is that time of year when I reflect on our cultural significance in DC and the impact of the DC Jazz Festival (DCJF) and the arts during these uncertain times. While we had hoped to present an in-person festival this year, the pandemic had other plans. Nonetheless, we overcame these challenges and were able to bring the joy of jazz to nearly 200,000 music lovers around the world including in France, Italy, Japan, Panama, Brazil, Canada, the UK, and Luxembourg.
In fact, the #2020DCJazzFest reached the third most viewers of any live streamed event in the world during the last week of September, according to Pollstar’s Weekly Live Stream Chart.
We thank YOU, our fans and donors, for helping us do our part to provide paid performance gigs to the jazz artist community – particularly DC’s outstanding resident musicians – and provide critical income for venues around DC as well as to Duke Ellington School of the Arts. DCJF’s successful pivot to the virtual sphere was truly a team effort involving our dedicated board and staff, producers and crew, sponsors and venue partners, and artists and audiences. Just like the members of a jazz combo, each played an essential role. And now, more than ever, the importance of our work to initiate cultural exchanges and civic dialogue through the power of the arts cannot be underestimated.
I invite you to relive all of the stellar performances from this year’s festival on the DC Jazz Festival's YouTube channel.
Many of us adore this music and, more than ever, the onus is on us to match this enthusiasm with our financial support – to continue to invest in our organization and to ensure that we are able to provide music education programs. We are still accepting donations in support of our DCJF Music Education Program. If you find yourself in a position to do so, please donate today, so we can continue to provide free and low-cost education programs to DC public and charter school students, teachers, and their families, especially in underserved communities. Thank you for lifting us up!
" [So] grateful for DCJF's commitment to maintain vital support for artists and connection with their audience during these difficult times. To you, we are indebted for your commitment to pure artistic expression and being the musician’s reliable champion." — International Music Network
A New Universe Sans Audience
by Willard Jenkins, Artistic Director
At first, assembling the lineup for the 2020 DC JazzFest appeared to be a daunting task, especially given the challenges of presenting this event in a new universe sans audience. I’m exceedingly proud of my DCJF colleagues, our network of vendors and contractors, and everyone else who worked with us to produce this festival, and particularly the leadership Sunny Sumter provided during these unprecedented times.
The DCJF team can all be justifiably proud of our festival from an artistic perspective, and I am most proud of the broad stylistic perspective we provided our audiences – and I emphasize audiences – because this was a great opportunity for us to fly our festival flag high in front of our first-time international attendees.
We featured a broad stylistic spectrum of artists this year. From the jazz-informed go-go of The Chuck Brown Band and the equally jazz-centric neo soul of Cecily, to the poignant feel-good improvisations of keyboardist Matthew Whitaker, the edginess of Luke Stewart’s Heart of the Ghost, and the skronk of ¡FIASCO!.
We had a veritable cornucopia of great sounds throughout, including four master level pianists: Danilo Pérez, Marc Cary, Dado Moroni, and DC’s own Allyn Johnson. Allyn’s contributions to sets throughout the festival further highlighted the fact that we were able to shine a bright spotlight on the exceptional community of jazz musicians living here in the DMV, including DCJF’s own soulful vocalist-educator Heidi Martin.
Despite the challenging circumstances we faced, our team provided some amazing artistry to the world during these extremely difficult times; and for that we should all be proud.
Three Things I Learned At My First DC JazzFest
by Matt Singer, Marketing Coordinator
My name is Matt Singer and I’m the Marketing Coordinator here at the DC Jazz Festival! This year was my first ever DC JazzFest experience, and what a memorable first festival experience it was. We had nearly 200,000 new friends and familiar faces tune in for the festival - now that’s a crowd! Thank you to everyone who joined us this year and thank you to all of the wonderful folks out there who helped us along the way. Here are three things I learned at my first ever DC JazzFest:
1) There Are SO MANY Different Types Of Jazz
Grand pianos. Full horn sections. Electric guitars. Cosmic sax solos.
All of these and more made an appearance on the DCJF Global Stage, creating a captivatingly diverse soundscape for our viewer's enjoyment. There wasn't a set that sounded alike, from the driving big band swing of Jack Kilby & The Front Line to the thought-provoking rhymes of Maimouna Youssef, and being able to experience so many fantastic takes on jazz in one place was quite the treat for a music-lover like me!
If you missed any of the #2020DCJazzFest, you can still re-watch it for free on YouTube .
2) DCJF Has A Deep Connection To DC's Live Music Scene
This year’s festival streamed live from venues all over the city including Union Stage, the Transit Pier at The Wharf, and U Street Music Hall among others. It was truly a DC affair, and it reminded me how intertwined the festival is with DC's music venues. Without these venues and creative spaces supporting our community, a lot of artists would be hard pressed to find a suitable place to perform and event organizers like us wouldn't be able to give DC music the recognition it deserves.
We need to collectively act now to #SaveDCVenues and to save the sounds of the city we love. Learn more about what you can do to help.
3) The Importance Of Music Education In DC
I've long been a believer in the importance of providing students with access to music education and other creative outlets. That's why I was so happy to hear that the the 2020 DC JazzFest would be taking donations for the DCJF Music Education Program , which provides fee and low-cost education to DC Public and Charter School students, teachers, and their families. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the campaign, we so appreciate all of your generosity.
Help pass along the magic of jazz to the next generation, make a donation to the DCJF Music Education Program today.
The DC Jazz Festival®, a 501(c)(3) non-profit service organization, and its 2020 programs are made possible, in part, with major grants the Government of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, Mayor; the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts; and with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts; the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; and, in part, by major grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Galena-Yorktown Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, Gillon Family Charitable Fund, Venable Foundation, The Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation, and The Leonard and Elaine Silverstein Family Foundation. ©2020 DC Jazz Festival. All rights reserved.