Incredible! Over 62,000 patrons enjoyed this year's DC JazzFest! Just weeks prior to our festival The New York Times cited the DC JazzFest as one of the "50 Top Summer Festivals" in the country; and when you consider the vast number and variety of summer festivals, that's a pretty noteworthy endorsement! But that was just one among many press accolades for our festival this year. My favorite was this from The Washington Post's DC JazzFest preview piece:
"The DC Jazz Festival is unusual in that it devotes itself wholehearted to the genre. While a lot of jazz festivals bait their schedules with pop and R&B performers, the vast majority of the 125 acts a this year's event are bona fide jazz artists - and many of them are on the cutting edge. That's because the festival is now run by two insiders: jazz vocalist Sunny Sumter and jazz journalist Willard Jenkins."
- The Washington Post
Highlights from this year's JazzFest are far too numerous to cite, but I took great personal delight in seeing how pleased our DC-area based artists were at being part of the festival; a common sight at some of our performances was DC resident artists proudly sporting their festival Artist laminates at various performances.
We were proud to further spread our tentacles to new venue partners as part of our credo of reaching all four quadrants of our great city. These included institutions ranging from the all-volunteer presenting organizing Transparent Productions, which strives mightily to present cutting edge expressions of jazz from across the globe; to that straight ahead jazz hub Jazz in Southwest at Westminster Presbyterian Church; to the University of the District of Columbia, whose Jazz Ahead program on this year's festival; to our happy return to the Kennedy Center via five special (free) evenings of some of DC's finest young artist. And no one can deny the delight evident in those 5,000+ who enjoyed our Jazz 'n' Families Fun Days at The Philips Collection.
Great scenes abounded: from the obvious pleasure our founder Charlie Fishman took in being feted by Paquito d' Rivera, to the great drummer Billy Hart accepting our annual Lifetime Achievement Award at the Historic Synagogue at Sixth & I; from eavesdropping on Esperanza Spalding and her band excitedly greeting & hugging and posing for photos with her mentors NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart backstage at the Hamilton after her own performance at the Yards, to Sunny Sumter's excited young son Kobi taking the stage a Common's invitation; from the touching intimacy of vocalist Gretchen Parlato's duets with guitarist Lionel Loueke, to the rousing Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra positively inhabiting Oliver Lake's music.
As I said, highlights were far too numerous to list. So, what's in the store for the 2016 DCJF? Our small but mighty staff and our numerous community partners are forging straight ahead to ensure new highs for next June. As we say in radio, stay tuned...