Jazz is at the forefront of our work in more ways than one. Here at the DC Jazz Festival (DCJF), it’s both the art form we celebrate and the guiding principle of what we do. In 2018, this is truer than ever, as we improvise our way through DC's ever-expanding cultural economy, discovering new and exciting ways to feature the rich complexity of jazz in all its applications. Through engaging education programs, festival presentations, diverse concert settings, and inclusive panels and interviews, 2018 promises to be our best year yet!
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Thanks to an award from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, 300 fifth graders from DC public and charter schools are discovering jazz in South African rhythm and culture through Jazzin’ InSchool: To South Africa and Back, an interactive arts education experience taught by teaching artists Rochelle Rice and Dawn Howard with performances by Sweet Honey In The Rock and South African jazz pianist Witness Matlou. Jazz is playing a starring role throughout the month and culminating in a worldwide celebration on April 30th for International Jazz Day. Led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its Director General and legendary jazz pianist/composer Herbie Hancock (who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute), International Jazz Day (#jazzday) brings communities and jazz enthusiasts globally to celebrate and learn about jazz reinforcing international cooperation and communication. DC Jazz Festival, in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland, will take part in #jazzday with a concert featuring Swiss harmonica player sensation Grégoire Maret. Thanks to our underwriters Linda and Michael Sonnenreich, our host sponsor the Embassy of Switzerland, and our presenting Events DC, this program is a shining example of community investment in jazz!
Neighborhood development is at an all-time high in DC, with exciting platforms for jazz presentations in all its iterations. DC JazzFest will be activating The District Wharf in grand fashion for its first summer season in June with stages on District and Transit Piers, Union State curated by CapitalBop, Pearl Street Warehouse, and The Anthem. We look forward to working with our Board of Directors, the Government of the District of Columbia, The Washington Post, Events DC, Sage Communications, Mars on Gravity, The District Wharf, The Anthem, and Concord Hotels to bring an exceptional festival experience to the Southwest neighborhood. Jazz in the ‘Hoods will be a city takeover in June with the featured returns of The Hamilton Live and Sixth & I, as well as our Opening Ceremony at the City Winery DC; and the new City Winery (former home of Love and Dream) will be a featured venue throughout the festival, bringing jazz to the NE in Ivy City. Ivy City neighborhood partner IVY City Smokehouse joins in on the expansion with a vocal jam led by Chris Grasso, and a Jazz meets Go-Go concert featuring the Jo-Jo Project and Dupont Brass. Other Hoods venues include Blues Alley (always serving up the best in jazz) and The Alex Craft Cocktail Cellar & Speakeasy in Georgetown, Twins Jazz (U Street’s jazz institution), JoJo’, and Sotto DC; Capitol Hill’s Mr. Henry’s led by Herb Scott and Aaron Meyers; Alice Jazz and Cultural Society in Brookland; Anacostia’s East River Jazz Series led by Vernard Gray at venues such as Anacostia Playhouse; the CapitalBop Series produced by Luke Stewart and Gio Russonello; and Kreeger Museum, Franklin Square, Atlas Performing Arts and many more - all venues with must-see talent.
As always, our DCJF Education continues to bring the power of music education through jazz to our school partners. In 2018, we are excited to present Ben Williams as our inaugural Artist-In-Residence along with our new offerings with our fieldtrip program. All our education initiatives continue to be championed by Rockstar Education Coordinator Rochelle Rice, who also last month won the fourth annual Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Award for $10,000 and 25 hours of free studio time! (And did we mention she’ll be performing at DC JazzFest this year, too? Our staff never ceases to amaze!). And, we continue to promote jazz “abroad” in our great educational tradition of the Charles Fishman Embassy Series, featuring an array of international embassies. This fall and summer we hold hands with the Embassy of Canada on Canada Day in July and the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation for the Washington Ideas Festival, for a series of jazz panel and performances highlighting innovators shaping the future of Jazz.
So, when we say the 2018 DC JazzFest is bigger and better than ever before, we truly mean it, no hyperbole whatsoever. DCJF’s fourteenth year looks to be one of our most fun and festive experiences, as we feature jazz in all its diversity for our audiences. There’s something for everyone! You never know what unexpected discoveries await you at the 2018 DC Jazz Fest and beyond!