DC Jazz Fest, Rosslyn Jazz Supper Club pair local restaurants and musicians

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Rosslyn & DC Jazz Fests

Get ready for the sweet sound of jazz echoing across the nation’s capital this week.

The 30th annual Rosslyn Jazz Festival returns Wednesday to Wednesday, while the 16th annual D.C. Jazz Festival simultaneously returns Thursday through Monday.

“Music is such a great way to bring people together,” Rosslyn BID president Mary-Claire Burick told WTOP. “When you have all these opportunities sort of colliding and happening at the same time, it creates even more excitement around it.”

Rather than the usual live music at Gateway Park at the end of Key Bridge, this year’s festival has been rebranded as the Rosslyn Jazz Supper Club, bringing a hybrid of in-person and virtual live events to two local restaurants in Arlington County, Virginia.

“We still wanted to find a way to connect with our community even though we couldn’t hold the annual jazz festival as we normally would,” Burick said. “By offering more intimate opportunities to hear great music from local musicians, we’re really excited because that also allows us to support our Rosslyn restaurants, which is so important.”

It kicks off Wednesday at Sfoglina on Wilson Boulevard with Irene Jalenti, who moved from Italy to Baltimore in 2010, performing at Blues Alley and Kennedy Center.

“We’re going to go up to the Sfoglina rooftop terrace, which is absolutely spectacular with views of all of D.C.,” Burick said. “That’s again just an amazing, amazing venue.”

Next Wednesday brings live jazz to Amuse on 19th Street North with Rene Ibanez & Cubano Groove, known for their regular gigs at the now defunct HR-57 jazz club in D.C.

“We’re going to go out to the terrace at Amuse at Le Meridien,” Burick said. “Again, fabulous views. … These are all local DMV artists, and so again, really excited to be able to bring this talent to the community.”

While the musicians are playing, you can enjoy the menus at the restaurants.

“We’re still at 50% capacity,” Burick said. “The great news is that by doing these at the outdoor terraces, it really does enable people to feel more safely. Both the restaurants and the Rosslyn BID have taken special precautions to help ensure guest safety.”

If you’re not ready to go out, you can order food to go and watch virtually.

“That’s for those who would rather enjoy the music at home,” Burick said. “We’ll have some specials where you can pick up a delicious dinner from any of the Rosslyn restaurants, and then have your own virtual supper club at home.”

Meanwhile, the D.C. Jazz Festival is offering a smorgasbord of free events.

“Last year we were 40 venues over 150 shows, we had 148,000 people attend,” D.C. Jazz Fest executive director Sunny Sumter told WTOP. “This year we were expecting an even grander festival. We are dialing it back and going virtual, but we still expect to be on the global stage to exceed those numbers and have a real great mobile party.”

That’s right, you can sit at home and watch live broadcasts from local venues.

“We are broadcasting from The Wharf, from Mr. Henry’s, from U Street Music Hall and other venues [like] Union Stage,” Sumter said. “While there is no in-person audience, it is an opportunity for the global audience to really join us.”

Expect a variety of artists to take the stage from all over the world.

“This talent is outstanding,” Sumter said. “There’s an international lineup this year that ranges from straight ahead to gospel to hip-hop to bluegrass jam. … You get to hear Allyn Johnson, Ben Williams, Christie Dashiell, Heart of the Ghost, Nasar Abadey, Danilo Perez and others, including the Chuck Brown Band serving up some go-go.”

Arguably the two coolest components this year are a drive-in music experience outside RFK Stadium and the 6th annual DCJazzPriz Band Competition at Union Stage.

“We had over 80 applications come in from around the world,” Sumter said. “We’ve got five finalists this year: Camilla George from the UK, DreamRoot from North Carolina, the EJB Quartet from D.C., Mike Casey from New York, and the RDW [Reis-Demuth-Wiltgen] Trio from Luxembourg. … The [winning] band walks away with $15,000.”

Ultimately, it’s your chance to participate in an American pastime.

“The United States officially proclaimed jazz as a national treasure in 1987,” Sumter said. “Diehard fans of the genre always wonder, ‘What took you so long?’ So come on, immerse yourself in a national art form from the comfort of your home or a drive-in.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Rosslyn Jazz Fest (Full Interview)
WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with D.C. Jazz Fest (Full Interview)

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