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DC Jazz Festival Announces DCJazzPrix™ Finalists

DCJF’s incomparable annual band competition enters its ninth year of recognizing and supporting top jazz ensemble talent.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 24, 2023 — The DC Jazz Festival® (DCJF) today announced the three bands selected as the 2023 DCJazzPrixFinalists, all of whom will perform Saturday, September 2, 2023 during the DCJazzPrix Finals at Union Stage, part of the 19th Annual DC JazzFest. The 2023 DCJazzPrix finalists are:

BIRCKHEAD (Baltimore, MD): Led by Brent Birckhead on woodwinds, the band includes Noble Jolley Jr. on piano, Romeir Mendez on bass, and CV Dashiell III on drums.

EMBER (Brooklyn, NY): This leader-less, cooperative trio features Caleb Wheeler Curtis on stritch (straight alto saxophone), bassist Noah Garabedian, and drummer Vincent Sperraza.

NEW JAZZ UNDERGROUND (New York, NY): Saxophonist Abdias Armenteros, bassist Sebastian Rios, and drummer TJ Reddick make up this leader-less, cooperative trio.

DCJazzPrix, an international competition created to recognize and support top jazz band talent, was launched in 2016 and has since received a rapidly growing and diverse applicant response from more than 20 countries. The Jury considered a highly competitive pool of applicants, evaluating these gifted bands on their artistic quality and merit when selecting the finalists.

Each band will receive benefits associated with a major jazz festival performance opportunity, and the finalists will compete live during the DCJazzPrix Finals at DC JazzFest at The Wharf. Audience response will be a factor in the Jury’s determination of the winner. Along with gaining significant exposure, the winning band will begin a yearlong association with the DC Jazz Festival to include: a $15,000 grand prize, customized business development and career impact services, extensive publicity, and a highly visible 2024 DC JazzFest engagement with commensurate compensation.

“We are proud to foster and uplift the next generation of jazz talent” said DC Jazz Festival CEO Sunny Sumter. “DCJazzPrix is unique in that it recognizes bands over soloists. It allows jazz artists to concentrate on band development on multiple fronts, increase performance opportunities, and sustain their collective output.”

For press inquiries or requests for information, contact Lydia Liebman, DCJF publicist, at

Learn more about the DC Jazz Festival and all of our programs by visiting

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DCJF Media Contact:

Lydia Liebman, Publicist

DCJF Contacts:

Sunny Sumter, President and CEO

Josh Brown, Marketing & Communications, 312/813-5276

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DCJazzPrix program is made possible by the generous support of The Leonard and Elaine Silverstein Family Foundation. The DCJazzPrix prize is made possible by the generous support of the Gillon Charitable Fund and the Galena-Yorktown Foundation.

About DC Jazz Festival: The DC Jazz Festival®, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and its 2023 programs are made possible, in part, with major grants from the Government of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, Mayor; National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts; and with awards from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Doris Duke Foundation, Galena-Yorktown Foundation, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, Gillon Family Charitable Fund, Venable Foundation, The Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts, Compass of Greater Washington, The Max and, Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation, and The Leonard and Elaine Silverstein Family Foundation. ©2023 DC Jazz Festival. All rights reserved.


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