Jazz in the Garden outdoor concert series returns to Sculpture Garden this weekend

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Jazz in the Garden (Part 1)

A summer tradition in the nation’s capital returns this weekend at the Sculpture Garden.

Jazz in the Garden delivers 10 outdoor concerts every Friday from May 20 to July 22.

“We did a bit of an abbreviated version last year, but this is our full season of concerts since the summer of 2019,” National Gallery of Art Head of Education Damon Reaves told WTOP. “This is a D.C. institution, it’s been a beloved event for over 20 years, so we’re just really excited to bring it back in full form.”

The concerts are free, but you must register at noon the Friday one week before each concert. This Friday’s event is already sold out, Reaves said.

Outside food is permitted for your picnic, and there will be food offerings from the Pavilion Cafe, but you can’t bring outside alcohol. “We’ll have beverages as well, including the famous sangria,” Reaves said. “We want it to be relaxed and fun.”

“It’s that Friday-night atmosphere,” Reaves said. “It’s a bit more relaxed; you’re transitioning into the weekend. It’s a good date night without the pressure of heading into the office the next day. … You get to hang out outside in this beautiful environment surrounded by all of these wonderful works of art, live music, food and drink, and get to be with other people.”

The Sculpture Garden is on the north side of the National Mall. Entrances are at 7th Street Northwest, 9th Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest, and Madison Drive Northwest.

On concert days, the Sculpture Garden will close from 4 to 5 p.m. to allow time to set up the event, then the gates will reopen at 5 p.m. and concerts will begin at 6 p.m.

Music performances range in style from jazz to Afro-Cuban and bluegrass. Reaves is particularly excited about Afro-Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez June 3, Grammy-nominated Hawaiian contemporary instrumentalist Daniel Ho June 10 and trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, part of the famed Marsalis family, July 1.

The series opens Friday with the sold-out show from jazz violinist Nataly Merezhuk. The rest of the lineup:

May 27: Blues with the Martha Redbone Roots Project

Registration opens May 20 at noon

June 3: Afro-Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez

Registration opens May 27 at noon

June 10: New Hawaiian and Contemporary instrumentalist Daniel Ho

Registration opens June 3 at noon

June 17: Global psychedelia from Bombay Rickey

Registration opens June 10 at noon

June 24: Afro-Brazilian from Caique Vidal & Batuque

Registration opens June 17 at noon

July 1: Funky fun from the Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet

Registration opens June 24 at noon

July 8: Soul-Jazz flute by Althea Rene

Registration opens July 1 at noon

July 15: The Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra

Registration opens July 8 at noon

July 22: Bluegrass by Sideline

Registration opens July 15 at noon

More information on each performance is available at nga.gov/jazz.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Jazz in the Garden (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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