By Nia Hightower, DC Music Live
For those who say jazz is dead, D.C.’s Charles Fishman says take a look around the city.
He notes the rebirth of the more-than-a-century-old Howard Theatre that launched the careers of jazz greats such as D.C. native Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. He points to the revival of U Street Corridor jazz clubs such as Bohemian Caverns and the number of local jazz musicians who fill rooms in hotels, restaurants and other establishments on any given night.
All of those elements help shape the theme for this year’s DC Jazz Festival, “Celebrating D.C.’s Jazz Legacy and Beyond: In the Footsteps of the Masters,” June 1-10.
“We don’t always do a particular theme,” says Fishman, founder and executive producer of the DC Jazz Festival. “This year, we felt – knowing how many D.C.-based jazz artists there were and continue to be – we wanted to bring more attention to the city, it’s history and what has evolved here.”
The DC Jazz Festival returns for an eighth year with 10 days of jazz and its signature programs – Jazz Meets the Classics at the Kennedy Center, Jazz in the ‘Hoods, the free Jazz ‘n’ Families Fun Days at The Phillips Collection museum, Jazz at the Hamilton and Jazz at the Howard.
That’s more than 80 performances at more than 40 museums, clubs, restaurants, hotels and galleries across the city.
Dianne Reeves and famed Italian guitarist Pino Daniele will be among headliners at The Howard. National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and 10-time Grammy Award-winner Paquito D’Rivera will be among artists performing at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Jazz at the Hamilton will feature artists such as world music and soul artists Les Nubians, go-go legend Chuck Brown and jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove.
Local performers such as vocalists Christie Dashiell, former member of Afro Blue, Akua Allrich; and Lori Williams; drummer Quincy Phillips, now playing with Roy Hargrove; the W.E.S. Group; trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse; and many others.
“There’s a treasure trove of jazz here in the city and a heck of a lot that people aren’t aware of,” Fishman says.
Fishman, who used be the personal manager for the late legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, says though jazz is all around the scarcity can be felt.
“You never see it appear on the Grammys anymore,” he says. “And though you can catch it on the radio, it’s often between the hours of midnight or 5 a.m.”
But he says jazz has endured.
“I think [the DC Jazz Festival] raises the consciousness that jazz is a part of American Life – an artform.”
View the schedule of DC Jazz Festival events.