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DC JazzFest at Union Stage Welcomes a More Inclusive Jazz Future

A Celebration of Gender and Racial Equity, The Vibes, DCJazzPrix Finals & More

WASHINGTON, DC – June 7, 2023– The DC Jazz Festival (DCJF) today announced the tickets are now on sale for DC JazzFest at Union Stage Friday, September 1 through Saturday, September 2 featuring saxophonist Leigh Pilzerand her Startet band, multi-instrumentalist Warren Wolf & History of the Vibes, the DCJazzPrix finals where BIRCKHEAD, Ember, and New Jazz Underground face off for a $15,000 grand prize; Next Jazz Legacy, and the annual JAM session, led by DCJF Artist-in-Residence Orrin Evans. The 19th Annual DC JazzFest takes place August 30 through September 3 with DC JazzFest at The Wharf on September 2-3, over Labor Day Weekend

Tickets for the DC JazzFest at The Wharf Union Stage can be purchased here:

Leigh Pilzer is a DC-based saxophonist, arranger and educator who has led her small groups at many of the city’s top jazz venues. She has toured extensively as a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and The DIVA Jazz Orchestra. An educator in the music program at the University of Maryland, Leigh has also performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.

Warren Wolf is a multi-instrumentalist from Baltimore, MD versed in the drums and piano who has focused a great deal of his performing and recording career on mallet instruments: vibes and marimba. Wolf has recorded and toured with such masters as drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, bassist Christian McBride’s “Inside Straight” band, and alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, among many others. He is also a current touring & recording member of the SF Jazz Collective repertory ensemble.

After a vigorously competitive semi-finals judging process by our panel of jazz professional experts, BIRCKHEAD (Baltimore, MD), Ember (Brooklyn, NY), and New Jazz Underground (New York, NY) are all uniquely poised to seize the prize in the 9th annual DCJazzPrix. DCJP is a competition of both discovery and professional uplift for young bands emerging on the jazz scene.

Next Jazz Legacy is a new national apprenticeship program for women and non-binary improvisers in jazz, and a more inclusive jazz future, with the intersection of gender and race as a guiding principle. A partnership between New Music USA and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice with support from the Mellon Foundation.

Pianist-composer-bandleader Orrin Evans leads our annual DCJF JAM to close out the Saturday night session at Union Stage featuring a diverse group of artists, Jonathan Michel, Maria Marmarou, and Luke O'Rielly

Visit for complete date/time/venue information on these exciting additions to DCJF ‘23.

“DCJF’s Union Stage lineup presents a scintillating range of jazz music from both established and emerging artists, including one of the time-honored, sound-of-surprise pillars of jazz expression – the JAM session – and an opportunity to experience “who’s next” at our DCJazzPrix Finals,” said DCJF Artistic Director Willard Jenkins.

“Bringing Next Jazz Legacy, Leigh Pilzer, Warren Wolf, and Orrin’s Imani Jam to Union Stage shines a spotlight on the diversity that jazz can bring to the musical experience,” said DCJF President and CEO Sunny Sumter. “A more equitable future for musicians starts now and we cannot wait for festivalgoers to experience their unique voices.”

The largest festival of its kind in the nation’s capital, the 19th Annual DC JazzFest will feature a robust lineup of performers – from local legends to NEA Jazz Masters – with concerts across several venues. This year’s Festival experiences will include in-person performances, up-close-and-personal “Meet the Artist” conversations, and indoor performances at Arena Stage and Union Stage including the DCJazzPrix international emerging jazz band competition Finals live at Union Stage at The Wharf.

The 2023 DC JazzFest Lineup, to date, includes:

Gregory Porter • Kenny Garrett and Sounds From the Ancestors • CHARLES LLOYD Kindred Spirits feat. Gerald Clayton, Marvin Sewell, Reuben Rogers, and Kendrick Scott • Samara Joy • Terri Lyne Carrington New Standards • Dave Holland Trio feat. Kevin Eubanks and Eric Harland • Big Chief Donald Harrison • Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble • Generations featuring George Cables, Benny Green, Orrin Evans, Shamie Royston, Hope Udobi, Jeff "Tain" Watts, & Kris Funn • Omar Sosa Quarteto Americanos • Orrin Evans Quintet • Etienne Charles & Creole Soul • Warren Wolf & History of the Vibes • Vinny Valentino Group feat. Marshall Keys, Frederico Peña, Dennis Chambers • Julieta Eugenio Trio • BIRCKHEAD • Leigh Pilzer Startet • Mark G. Meadows • Veronneau • George V. Johnson Jr. • Landon Paddock Group • AYO • Lisa Sokolov • Next Jazz Legacy • DCJazzPrix 2023 Finalists: BIRCKHEAD, Ember, New Jazz Underground

For more information about the 2023 DC JazzFest, August 30 - September 3, including concert updates and ticketing information, visit

For press inquiries, please contact Lydia Liebman, DCJF publicist, at

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



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