top of page

Return to Glory: A Celebration of Fred Irby III & the Howard University Jazz Ensemble

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 13, 2023 – DC Jazz Festival announced today Return to Glory: A Celebration of Fred Irby III and the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, celebrating one of the titans of jazz education, Professor Fred Irby III, and his 50 years of service to HBCUs. Return to Glory will take place Thursday, November 16, 2023, 7:30 PM, at Arena Stage Kogod Cradle, and hosted by Phylicia Rashad, Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, the cultural center of Howard University.

Fred Irby has established an unparalleled tradition of educating the next generations of jazz contributors for half a century. As a Professor of Music at Howard University in Washington, DC, Irby is the Coordinator of Instrumental Music, Trumpet Instructor, and Director of the internationally acclaimed Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE). The HUJE has performed to sold out audiences throughout the U.S. and abroad with forty-seven recordings in a distinguished series that began in 1976. Under the director of Irby, HUJE has been featured in special performances at the Kennedy Center Honors with Lionel Hampton (1992), Benny Carter (1996), and Tony Bennett (2005). Irby is the Principal Trumpet of the Kennedy Center Opera House Musical Theater Orchestra. His commissions include compositions by two eminent African American composers: Ulysses S. Kay, TROMBA: Suite for B-Flat Trumpet and Piano, and Frederick C. Tillis, Spiritual Fantasy #1 for Piccolo Trumpet, and Piano. During the 2022 Inaugural Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts Distinguished Faculty and Staff Awards, Irby received three Awards: Outstanding Creative Work, Outstanding Teaching, and Outstanding Service.

“We are celebrating 50 years of excellence, truth and service through music and musical instruction,” said Phylicia Rashad, Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. “Thank you, Fred Irby for this Return, to Glory!”

Return to Glory is co- presentation of DC Jazz Festival, the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, and Mecca Filmworks with film direction by TL Benton, a Howard University graduate and Emmy-Award winning Producer-Director, and former member of the HUJE.

“DC Jazz Festival is proud to partner with the Howard University Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts and Mecca Filmworks to honor Fred Irby for a lifetime of service to HBCUs” said Sunny Sumter, DCJF President and CEO, and former member of the HUJE.

In 2016, Irby received the DC Jazz Festival Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Southern Illinois University Hall of Fame. Irby established the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award in 1996 to honor the legacy of the 1996 NEA Jazz Master and was instrumental in Golson receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Music from his alma mater (Howard University) in 2014. Return To Glory will also include a very special Benny Golson Award presentation.

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


bottom of page