DC Jazz Festival From Home streams virtual performances across America

Marshall Keys is just one of the talented musicians who will perform at DC Jazz Fest From Home. (Eva Hambach)
WTOP's Jason Fraley previews DC Jazz Fest From Home

Since 2005, the D.C. Jazz Festival has become an annual summer tradition.

This year, it’s going virtual for nine straight days of music from June 21-29.

“We decided back in March that we needed to postpone the festival,” executive director Sunny Sumter told WTOP. “Our jazz musicians around the city, their work has dried up. … We thought we should find some way this month since they were counting on [us]. Every year for the past 16 years, we were writing checks to D.C.-based artists.”

Instead, artists can apply for $1,000 grants, as well as tax-deductible GoFundMe donations, in partnership with Live From Our Living Rooms, a company out of New York.

“In line with social distancing practices, all of the shows will include soloists or small groups residing under the same roof,” Sumter said. “We have musicians from all over the country participating. We’ve got several Washington-based artists, but also some of the finest from around the country have agreed to lend their voice and their art to this cause.”

Here’s the full virtual lineup:

Sunday, June 21
3 p.m. – “Meet the Artist” Interview: NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater (voice)
7 p.m. – Performance: Marshall Keys (saxophone)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Helen Sung (piano)

“We’ve got a ‘Meet the Artist’ interview with National Endowment for the Arts jazz master Dee Dee Bridgewater,” Sumter said. “She is an incredible, world-renowned vocalist, and she will be in conversation with our artistic director, Willard Jenkins, talking about her life, how important it is for her to do the work she does as a performer but also as a teacher.”

“We’ve got Marshall Keys who Washington Life said was D.C.’s secret treasure,” Sumter said. “I believe that Marshall Keys is a fantastic saxophonist. He lives in D.C. and really is amazing to watch and hear. He’s really got a great sound. Then, Helen Sung is quite a phenomenal emerging jazz artist but wonderful in her own right and she plays piano.”

Monday, June 22
3 p.m. – “Meet the Artist” Interview: Sarah Hughes (saxophone)
7 p.m. – Performance: Akua Dixon (cello)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Regina Carter & Alvester Garnett (violin & drums)

“Sarah Hughes is a teacher, but she’s a wonderful saxophonist, and she is a painter, she’s an amazing visual artist, so I’m going to talk to her about her work,” Sumter said. “Also, Akua Dixon is a cellist at 7 p.m. Then, we’ve got world renowned violinist Regina Carter and her husband Alvester Garnett, who plays drums, performing out of Detroit.”

Tuesday, June 23
3 p.m. – Master class: Dave Douglas (trumpet)
7 p.m. – Performance: Emmet Cohen (piano)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Orrin Evans (piano)

“We’ve got Dave Douglas on trumpet doing a 3 p.m. master class, followed by Emmet Cohen, who lives in New York,” Sumter said. “He’ll be doing a 7 p.m. performance, then Orrin Evans, who’s really a very exciting and popular musician out of Philadelphia.”

Wednesday, June 24
7 p.m. – Performance: Randy Brecker & Ada Rovatti (trumpet & saxophone)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Jane Bunnett (saxophone & flute)

“We’ve got Randy Brecker, performing with his wife Ada Rovatti on trumpet and saxophone at 7:00, followed by Jane Bunnett,” Sumter said. “She plays saxophone and flute. Her claim to amazing international fame is that she works directly with Cuban artists. She brings them to the United States and presents them all around the country.”

Thursday, June 25
11 a.m. – DC JazzBops!: Heidi Martin (voice)
7 p.m. – Performance: Chelsey Green (violin)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Aaron Myers (voice/piano)

“I love Heidi Martin,” Sumter said. “She leads our D.C. Bop storytelling hour. It’s for young or earliest budding learners, ages 18 months to 6 years old, so those of you who have young children, this is perfect for you at 11 a.m. She’s doing a storytelling for kids.”

“[We’ve also got] Chelsey Green, who graduated from the University of Maryland and teaches at Berkeley,” Sumter said. “She just got on the Board of Governors for the Recording Academy, the Grammys. She’s gonna lend her violin to us at 7:00, followed by Aaron Myers, who is a great friend on piano and voice, performing in his home in D.C.”

Friday, June 26
3 p.m. – Interview: Marcus Strickland (saxophone)
7 p.m. – Performance: Elijah Balbed (saxophone)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Marcus Strickland

“We’ve got an interview that Willard Jenkins, our artistic director, will be conducting with Marcus Strickland on saxophone at 3:00,” Sumter said. “Then at 7:00, Elijah Balbed will be performing on saxophone. Elijah actually lives in D.C. And then at 8:30 we’ve got Marcus coming back. … He’ll be performing a solo performance on saxophone.”

Saturday, June 27
3 p.m. – Interview: Warren Wolf (vibraphone +)
7 p.m. – Performance: Kameleon Beats Trio (Latin jazz)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Warren Wolf

“We’ve got Warren Wolf, who’s based in Baltimore; he teaches and leads the jazz program with Sean Jones at the Peabody Conservatory,” Sumter said. “He’s actually doing [an] interview with me at 3:00 and then will be performing at 8:30 that same day.”

“In between at 7 p.m. we’ve got a Latin jazz trio called Kameleon Beats,” Sumter said. “They are really exciting to hear. It’ll be nice to see them in their living rooms performing.”

Sunday, June 28
3 p.m. – Interview: Tarus Mateen (bass)
7 p.m. – Performance: Tarus Mateen (w/ Dana Hawkins & Tamika Love Jones)
8:30 p.m. – Performance: Joe Lovano (saxophones) & Judi Silvano (voice)

“We’ve got Tarus Mateen that’s on the famous Jason Moran Bandwagon Trio,” Sumter said. “He’ll be doing an interview at 3:00, then he’s got a 7 p.m. performance with his wife Tamika Love Jones and spoken word artist Dana Hawkins. … Then Joe Lovano — he’s out of Ohio — has decided to do this with his wife Judi Silvano, who’s on voice.”

Monday, June 29
3 p.m. – Interview: Reginald Cyntje (trombone)
7 p.m. – Performance: Reginald Cyntje
8:30 p.m. – Performance: John Clayton (bass) & Gerald Clayton (piano)

“We’re ending the Live From Our Living Rooms series with Reginald Cyntje,” Sumter said. “He leads the jazz program at Duke Ellington School for the Arts. He is an amazing trombonist who will be in conversation at 3:00, then he’s got a 7 p.m. performance.”

“Closing it out is the famous bassist John Clayton and his son Gerald Clayton on piano,” Sumter said. “They’re out of Detroit, although they might be in New York right now, I’m actually not sure where they reside, but they’re doing an 8:30 concert closing us out.”

Whether you come every year or it’s your first time, it promises to be a special event.

“We celebrated [15 years last year] with over 180,000 people,” Sumter said. “It was such a rich celebration of diversity and inclusion. So much of what we’re talking about today is represented in jazz. … We hope that you’ll please join us and help raise money so we can provide these amazing artists with money to live during this very challenging time.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Sunny Sumter (Full Interview)

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