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‘Let’s have a jazz party’: DC Jazz Festival kicks off citywide in June


A big party in D.C. promises to take over the entire city for more than a week beginning the second weekend of June.

“Come to D.C., everybody! Let’s have a jazz party,” said Sunny Sumter, D.C. Jazz Festival executive director. “Twenty-seven neighborhoods, 10 days, over 100,000 people from all walks of life, outdoor events, indoor events — amazing!”

More than 300 local, national and international artists will perform at venues in every quadrant of the city for the festival, from June 7 through June 16.

“You can hear anything you want to hear: vocals, instrumentals, you name it,” founding Chairman Claude Bailey said. “If you love jazz music, you can’t miss this.”

A diverse selection of artists and venues will include a weekend of outdoor performances at The Wharf.

“The main concerts are at The Wharf, which is great because it’s an open-air setting,” said Kris Funn, who leads the 2018 DCJazzPrix-winning band Cornerstore. “People can hear the music without buying a ticket, and you can just walk around and hear several stages.”

Funn said he travels a lot and performs at many jazz festivals that focus on bringing in major artists who do a couple concerts and then it’s over, which is different than the D.C. experience.

“The great thing about the D.C. Jazz Fest is how it links the local community in to the music,” Funn said. “Throughout the year, D.C. Jazz Fest puts on concerts.”

The festival also has a program called Jazz in the ‘Hoods, where they promote shows of city musicians happening locally.

Jamie Sandel, managing director of Capitalbop, is also excited about what’s to come in June. Capitalbob is a Jazz in the ‘Hoods partner, a grassroots jazz advocacy group and a resource for jazz in D.C.

“I think it’s extremely exciting the festival places so much importance and puts so much effort into creating this vibrant citywide festival,” Sandel said. “The D.C. Jazz Festival is doing some incredible things to make sure that D.C. understands that this art isn’t something that is in a glass box somewhere. It’s part of a city, part of the history of the population here.”

See a complete list of this year’s D.C. Jazz Fest artists here and the full festival schedule here.

WTOP’s Kristi King reported from D.C.

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