More than 100 artists will perform at 50 venues throughout Washington’s neighborhoods and wards for the D.C. Jazz Festival, which gets underway June 1 to 13, 2010. Charles Fishman, president, executive producer and artistic director, recounts founding the festival, which was initially called the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, as a necessary event for the nation’s capital. Some of the “greatest musicians come from here,” said Fishman, former personal manager and producer for jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie until his death. “Jazz represents the highest freedom of expression, diversity and unity,” he said.
The festival, which attracts more than 100,000 people, was renamed “to honor the city as a destination event,” says Sunny Sumter, executive director for the D.C. Jazz Festival. “It is the biggest signature cultural offering” in the District, Sumter said, and “six years in the making from being one of the largest jazz festivals in the world.”
Sumter goes on to say that Washington residents and tourists will be exposed to a diverse offering of jazz performances including swing, bebop, straight ahead and Latin. Festival goers will be able to enjoy such jazz greats as Dianne Reeves, Poncho Sanchez, Roy Hargrove, Eddie Palmieri, Paquito D’Rivera, NEA Jazz Master James Moody, the Berklee World Jazz Nonet, Claudio Roditi, Edmar Castaneda, Roberta Gambarini, Marshall Keys, Marian Petrescu, Andres Öberg and Uri Gurvich.
Sharón Clark, a jazz vocalist who is known for her “authenticity through music,” is no stranger to the D.C. Jazz Festival. A native of Alexandria, Va., Clark performed at a kick off reception for the festival at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Clark’s next performance is scheduled during the festival at the Empress Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on June 11.
Jazz lovers can help foster a love for jazz in children through the D.C. Jazz Festival Roberta Flack Music Excellence Program. It was named in Flack’s honor, Sumter states, “because she believes in a holistic approach to learning music.” One way is through free neighborhood concerts and programs, especially since WPFW 89.3 is the only jazz radio station in our area. Learning about American history, music and “exposure to jazz early can lead to becoming a fan for life,” Sumter says.
Clarks adds that jazz offers a positive message to young people. “Kids need music,” she said. “It is an outlet and therapeutic.” She cites an example from a bible story in which “David calmed the king by playing the harp.”
In addition, Sumter said, the DC Jazz Festival contributes to fostering jazz as a legacy in the Washington area by getting “schools to expose students to legends, the current focus in neighborhoods, student concerts, exposing parents” as well as promotion through the media.
For additional information on venues, schedules, educational programs and more, visit www.dcjazzfest.org.