Meet the Artists


DC Jazz Festival’s Meet-the-Artist interview series typically take place during the Annual DC JazzFest and are designed to provide DCJF audiences with artist insights off the bandstand, presenting unique opportunities to learn about these creative people beyond the performance. These sessions serve to “demystify” the jazz art form for our audiences, providing them with ample occasion for their own inquiries and questions to artists beyond those posed by our interviewers. 

Gender Diversity in Jazz presented by The Washington Post's The Lily
Saturday, Sep 4, 2021 12:30 PM


The Lily, a women-focused publication of The Washington Post, will host a special panel discussion: Gender Diversity in Jazz: A conversation with 6 jazzwomen on September 4 at 12:30pm ET on jazz. Presented by The Washington Post’s The Lily , the panel will explore women’s equity and gender-based challenges in jazz. The Lily deputy editor Lena Felton will moderate the discussion with jazz instrumentalists Regina Carter and Jenny Scheinman, and DC Jazz Festival CEO Sunny Sumter.

Regina Carter is the foremost jazz violinist of her generation. Her quest for beauty, combined with her passion for excellence, did not escape the attention of the MacArthur Foundation, which awarded her its prestigious fellowship “genius grant.” Carter’s recent release, Ella: Accentuate the Positive, and touring program, “Simply Ella,” mark the hundredth birthday of a musical legend. She explains her deep and visceral connection to Ella Fitzgerald's music, "Growing up in Detroit, there was always music playing in our home. While there was a variety of music I enjoyed, there were a few recordings and artists I found consistently captivating. Ella Fitzgerald was one of these exceptions. To this very day, whenever I hear an Ella recording it grabs me at my core. I’m entranced by her voice, her melodic improvisations and the passion and artfulness with which Ella sings a song. She helps me understand a song by providing a window to its essence. In a word, Ella is sublime, and she is at the top of my go-to list when learning a jazz tune. Perhaps Jimmy Rowles said it best, ’Music comes out of her. When [Ella] walks down the street . . . she leaves notes.’ I’m so excited to celebrate Ella Fitzgerald, an artist who has meant so much to all the notes in my musical life.”

On the Regina Carter, the Los Angeles Times calls her "a talented, charismatic player who is almost single-handedly reviving interest in the violin as a jazz instrument."

Jenny Scheinman is a jazz violinist who has produced several critically acclaimed solo albums, including 12 Songs, which was named one of the Top Ten Albums of 2005 by The New York Times. She has played with Linda Perry, Norah Jones, Nels Cline, Lou Reed, Ani Difranco, Bruce Cockburn, Aretha Franklin, Lucinda Williams, Bono, Bill Frisell, the Hot Club of San Francisco, and Allison Miller.

In 2008 Scheinman released a self-titled vocal album. She has also played with her friend, Sean Lennon, on the Late Show with David Letterman. Her playing is frequently used as soundbed for NPR programming. Her album Mischief & Mayhem features guitarist Nels Cline, drummer Jim Black, and bassist Todd Sickafoose.

She grew up in Petrolia, California, a remote area of Humboldt County near Cape Mendocino. She is the niece of robotics pioneer Victor Scheinman and the granddaughter of Telford Taylor, chief prosecutor at the United States war crimes trials at Nuremberg.

Maria Schneider Artist Interview with Sunny Sumter
Saturday, Sep 4, 2021 2:00 PM


Maria Schneider was born in Windom, Minnesota. Schneider studied music theory and composition at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1983, then earned a master's degree in Music in 1985 from the Eastman School of Music, studying for one year as well at the University of Miami. After leaving Eastman, she was hired by Gil Evans as his copyist and assistant. She collaborated with Evans for the next few years, working with him on music for a tour with Sting and assisting him as he scored the film The Color of Money. Before she became one of the most acclaimed composers and bandleaders of her generation, Schneider received an NEA Apprenticeship Grant to study with Bob Brookmeyer in 1985.

In 1988, Schneider formed her first band in collaboration with her then-husband, jazz trombonist John Fedchock, and that group appeared at Visiones in Greenwich Village. Both that group and her marriage would dissolve, but Schneider followed up in 1992 by forming the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, which would appear weekly at Visiones from 1993 until the venue closed in 1998. Albums by the group have been released as by the Maria Schneider Orchestra since 2000.

From 2005 through 2019, the Maria Schneider Orchestra performed an annual Thanksgiving week-long gig at the Jazz Standard in New York City. The orchestra has also performed at jazz festivals and concert halls in Europe, South America, and Asia. Schneider has performed with over 80 groups in over 30 countries and has taught at universities worldwide. In 2013, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota.

Although three of the orchestra's albums had been previously nominated, Schneider's Concert in the Garden (2004) was the first to win a Grammy Award. It was also the first such award-winning album produced by ArtistShare, a fan funded platform that has (as of 2017) received 30 Grammy Award nominations and 10 Grammy Award wins.

Orrin Evans - Artist Interview with Willard Jenkins
Saturday, Sep 4, 2021 4:00 PM

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Willard Jenkins,  Artistic Director at  DC Jazz Festival, Interviews Pianist: Orrin Evans at the Wharf!

Orrin Evans was born in Trenton, New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia. He attended Rutgers University, and then studied with Kenny Barron. He worked as a sideman for Bobby Watson, Ralph Peterson, and Duane Eubanks and released his debut as a leader in 1994. He signed with Criss Cross Jazz in 1997, recording prolifically with the label. He was awarded a 2010 Pew Fellowships in the Arts. 

The prolific bandleader spins & discusses the Brazilian playlist that inspired his recent Terreno Comum Project. In 2017, Evans was named the new pianist in The Bad Plus. Evans' new release: The Magic of Now was recorded at SMOKE during the second weekend of December 2020 by Evans and a multi-generational cohort of A-list partners – first-call New York bassist Vicente Archer; iconic drummer Bill Stewart; and the dynamic 23-year-old alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins. They generate an eight-piece program that exemplifies state-of-the-art modern jazz, including three tunes apiece by the leader and Wilkins. From the first note to the last, the quartet, convening as a unit for the first time, displays the cohesion and creative confidence of old friends. “This album is a reunion,” explains Evans.

Dayramir Gonzalez, Oscar Hernandez, Pedrito Martinez - Artist Interview
Sunday, Sep 5, 2021 10:30 AM

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Dayramir Gonzalez, Oscar Hernandez & Pedrito Martinez sit down with Willard Jenkins to discuss their work.

Dayramir Gonzalez began his professional career as a pianist and composer with former Irakere member, Oscar Valdes’ Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Diákara at the age of 16. Since winning Havana’s JoJazz festival in 2004 and 2005, Dayramir has gone from winning three Cubadisco awards for his 2007 debut album “Dayramir & Habana enTRANCé” to becoming Berklee College of Music’s first Cuban national “Presidential Scholarship” recipient to performing in 15,000-seat stadiums with legends like Chucho and Bebo Valdes and headlining Carnegie Hall, representing the young generation of Afro-Cuban jazz.Four-time Grammy Award Winner Oscar Hernández has long been considered one of the most gifted and prominent pianist/ arrangers on the contemporary Latin, Latin-jazz and salsa music scene.

Oscar Hernandez is the leader of the world renowned “Spanish Harlem Orchestra”. With their 7 CDs to date, Oscar and SHO as they are commonly known, were nominated for a Grammy on their first CD “Un Gran Dia En El Barrio”, won the Grammy for their second CD release,” Across 110th Street” and were nominated for their third CD “United We Swing”, and winning yet another Grammy with their 4th CD “Viva La Tradicion”. 

Pedro Pablo “Pedrito” Martinez was born in Havana, Cuba, Sept 12, 1973. Having settled in New York City in the fall of 1998, by 2000, he had been awarded the Thelonius Monk Award for Afro-Latin Hand Percussion and was featured in the documentary film, Calle 54.

Pedrito has recorded or performed with Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Paquito D’Rivera, Bruce Springsteen, and Sting and has contributed, as a percussionist and vocalist, to over 50 albums. Mr. Martinez was also a founding member of the highly successful, Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band, Yerba Buena, with which he recorded two albums and toured the world. Pedrito’s career as a leader began in 2005 with the formation in NYC of The Pedrito Martinez Group. The group’s Grammy-nominated first album was released October, 2013 and was chosen among NPR’s Favorite Albums of 2013 and The Boston Globe Critics Top Ten Albums of 2013. Habana Dreams, PMG’s second album, was released in June 2016. Guests include, Ruben Blades, Isaac Delgado, Wynton Marsalis, Descemer Bueno, Roman Diaz, Angelique Kidjo, and Telmary Diaz. Accolades for Habana Dreams include #1 Latin Jazz Album in NPR’s Jazz Critics Top Jazz Albums for 2016 and being named among Boston Globe World Music Albums for 2016.

Kim Taylor Artist Interview with Sunny Sumter
Sunday, Sep 5, 2021 12:00 PM


Dr. Billy Taylor's daughter discusses her father's DC heritage. Achieving gender and racial equality in the arts administration.


Kim Taylor discusses the unique legacy of her father, the late Dr. Billy Taylor, with DCJF CEO and President Sunny Sumter. Winard Harper and Chip Jackson will also join this important discussion.