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Sunny Sumter Wants D.C. to be America’s No. 1 Jazz City

In the earliest years of the DC Jazz Festival (back when it was still called the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival), Sunny Sumter was on the talent side of the event. Sumter is a longtime D.C. jazz singer who was well-known on the local scene throughout the '90s and into the 2000s. But she joined the administrative side of the festival a few years into its existence and quickly rose to become its executive director. On the eve of the DC Jazz Festival's 10th anniversary, I spoke with Sumter about the history of the festival, its mission, and its current configuration.

The Hamilton kicks out the jams to open the DC Jazz Fest, with back-to-back shows from Brass-A-Holics and Snarky Puppy

The DC Jazz Festival spans many venues, but the Hamilton is the closest thing it has to a home base. The venue’s first two shows of the festival featured high-energy, electrifying bands: The Brass-A-Holics (whose trombonist Winston Turner is pictured above) played on Tuesday, and Snarky Puppy on Wednesday.

Funky and Groovin’ with the Brass-A-Holics

Around the two hour mark of the Brass-A-Holics’ set at the Hamilton on June 24th, part of the Tenth Anniversary DC Jazz Festival, front man/trombone player Winston Turner grabbed his mic and roared to the energized crowd,  “We don’t stop. We do this.” This statement, in so few words, perfectly captures everything that makes up the Brass-A-Holics Go-Go Brass Funk band and their live shows. Those in the audience knew how true these words were; the band did not take a single pause between songs until almost an hour and a half into the show.