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Ellington at 125: The DC Collective in Concert

Concert Celebrating Duke Ellington Master Educator Davey Yarborough 


WASHINGTON, D.C. – DC Jazz Festival today announces a very special concert presentation: Ellington at 125: The DC Collective in Concert, on April 28th at the Arena Stage Kogod Cradle. Curated by 2024 DC Jazz Festival Artist-in-Residence Corcoran Holt, this event, held on the eve of the 125th anniversary of the birth of DC’s peerless jazz master composer-bandleader-pianist Duke Ellington, will also be a special tribute to Holt’s (and a legion of his peers) mentor Davey Yarborough, the retired Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dean of Instrumental Music.

Click here to register for Ellington at 125: The DC Collective in Concert: Ellington 125: The DC Collective Concert (

Ellington at 125: The DC Collective in Concert will feature a gathering of exceptional DC-centric, international jazz talent under the leadership of bassist Corcoran Holt. Joining Holt will be an auspicious group of musicians, each of whom matriculated at DC’s famed Duke Ellington School of the Arts under the master tutelage of Davey Yarborough.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate Duke Ellington’s legacy and honor Davey Yarborough by showcasing his most accomplished students, who have flourished in their jazz careers,” said DCJF President and CEO Sunny Sumter. “This concert embodies the spirit of mentorship and excellence that defines the DC Jazz Festival.”

Bassist-bandleader Corcoran Holt has worked with an impressive raft of musicians, including NEA Jazz Masters Kenny Garrett, Curtis Fuller, Delfeayo Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Big Chief Donald Harrison, Jimmy Cobb, Louis Hayes, Albert “Tootie” Heath, and Billy Hart. Performing under Holt’s leadership on this auspicious occasion will be fellow Duke Ellington School of the Arts grads: percussionist Jabari Exum, pianist Janelle Gill, drummer Kweku Sumbry, tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, and trumpeter Al Strong.

Jabari Exum is an exciting percussionist in the West African and Latin tradition. He has been acting, drumming and rapping since age two. Among his professional accomplishments is the dance and drumming sequences he choreographed for the acclaimed major motion picture Black Panther. The much in-demand pianist Janelle Gill has worked with Oliver Lake, The Blackbyrds, Delfeayo Marsalis, and David Murray among many others. Drummer Kweku Sumbry has contributed his considerable skills to a range of settings, from the West African drum & dance company Farafina Kan, to rising star alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins. He comes to the drums honestly, a product of nurturing from his percussionist father and uncle. Tenor saxophonist Brian Settles is a graduate of the New School’s auspicious jazz program. Professionally he has contributed to a range of settings from the far-sighted band The Hookup with drummer Tomas Fujiwara, to trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson. He has been cited in the annual DownBeat Magazine Critic’s Poll as a Rising Star saxophonist. Trumpeter Al Strong has distinguished himself in service to jazz music both on and off the bandstand. His playing experiences have ranged from such American music royalty as Aretha Franklin to Count Basie. Off the bandstand he is co-founder of the North Carolina presenting organization The Art of Cool. 

Duke Ellington at 125” The DC Collective in Concert will cap off the many celebrations of the 125th anniversary of the birth of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington with a contemporary jazz celebration of the master rendered by some of the finest graduates of an institution that proudly bears the master’s name – the renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Holt and this stellar crew of Ellington School graduates will honor Mr. Ellington’s legacy in homage to saxophonist Davey Yarborough.

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

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About DC Jazz Festival: The DC Jazz Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that celebrates America’s unique original art form by presenting year-round programs and performances featuring local, national, and internationally acclaimed artists. The mission of the DC Jazz Festival is to present internationally renowned and emerging artists in celebration of jazz, unify diverse communities and enable connections between artists and audiences, advance jazz, and music education, provide performance opportunities for DC-based musicians, and highlight DC as a major and vibrant center for jazz. With dozens of performances in venues across the city, the annual DC JazzFest is one of the largest music festivals in the country. This international event attracts jazz lovers from around the world to the nation’s capital. The 2024 DC JazzFest will take place August 31-September 4. For more information about the DCJF and its activities, visit


DCJF Media Contact:

Lydia Liebman, DCJF Publicist


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