The Kennedy Center

Tommy Cecil


Jazz bassist Tommy Cecil has been active in the Washington, D.C. jazz scene since 1976 when he moved from his hometown, Baltimore, Maryland.  In that time he has established himself as one of the most in demand players in the area.

Cecil has had long associations with many of D.C.’s jazz favorite sons, including John Eaton, Buck Hill, Charlie Byrd, Dick Morgan, Shirley Horn, Brooks Tegler, and the Redd Brothers.  These players and many others have called Tommy frequently for concerts, club appearances, and recordings.  As a freelancer, Cecil has been sought by out of town artists like Mose Allison, Tommy Flanangan, Joe Henderson, and many others.

As a leader, Cecil has appeared at all the major venues in the area.  Also as a leader, he released his album, Samba for Felix.  His association with pianist Louis Scherr yielded 2 albums: The Song is You and Warm Valley featuring Joe Henderson.  These recordings garnered excellent reviews and highlight his composing talent.

Concert appearances have taken Tommy throughout the U.S. and overseas.  Tommy is featured on dozens of recordings as a sideman.

Chris Grasso is a Washington, D.C.-based jazz pianist who specializes in working with vocalists. Check out performance videos of Chris with Sharón Clark, Felicia Carter, Ronald Douglas and Janine Gilbert-Carter.

Chris has performed live on WPFW, Washington, D.C.'s jazz station, with jazz greats Keter Betts and Buck Hill. He also has appeared with Ken Peplowski and the Chuck Redd Quartet, and with New Orleans' historic jazz family, the Jordans.

Chris serves as Music Director for D.C.'s most in-demand jazz vocalist, the incomparable Sharón Clark. They perform regularly at Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C., and have appeared together on many stages, from the National Mall, as part of the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, to the Cape May Jazz Festival in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

In addition, Chris has made multiple appearances at the East Coast Jazz Festival and has performed at all the major venues in the Washington, D.C. area, including the One Step Down, Blues Alley, Twins Jazz, Bohemian Caverns, the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe, the Kennedy Center, and the Music Center at Strathmore. Chris serves as Music Director for Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C., and performs regularly with Amaretto, the area's premiere high-energy dance band.

Prior to pursuing a career in jazz, Chris studied classical piano at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree and won the university's concerto competition. He also placed third in the National Chopin Competition and has appeared as a concerto soloist with the University of Michigan Philharmonic and the Syracuse Symphony. After college, he took an eight-year break from music, working as a journalist, earning a law degree from the University of California-Berkeley and practicing law in Washington D.C.

From mainstream to contemporary, from bebop to hip-hop, Marshall Keys plays the saxophone with a sense of grace and emotion that is wholly without cliché. 

A native of Washington, D.C., Keys began his training with the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program, then went on to the Jazz Studies Program at historic Howard University.  He cut his teeth playing with local bands before getting his first professional experience with the chart topping eighties soul/jazz group The Blackbyrds.  Keys has also had a long, ongoing association with the great blues organist Jimmy McGrigg, with whom he has recorded and toured extensively.

Keys has worked and recorded with: Lionel Hampton, Stevie Wonder, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Rouse, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Jimmy Witherspoon, Steve Allen, Al Grey, Branford Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut, Kenny Kirkland, Hank Jones, Groove Holmes, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Rueben Wilson, Milt Hinton, Keter Betts, Big Joe Turner, Vinny Valentino, Federico Pena, Paul Jackson, Jr., Tom Schuman, and Scott Ambush.

Watch Past Performances

Video 6/14/2017: DC Jazz Festival presents Bass-ically Yours: Tommy Cecil Trio

Jazz bassist Tommy Cecil has been active in the Washington, D.C. jazz scene since 1976 when he moved from his hometown of Baltimore. He has since established himself as one of the most in- demand players in the area.

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Tommy Cecil