Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival - 13th annual

Thursday, May 15, 2008 - Saturday, May 17, 2008

The festival marks its 13th thrilling year with star-studded performances featuring the world's top female jazz artists.



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All the 2006 and 2007 concerts sold out--so for 2008, be sure to reserve your seats in advance for this annual Kennedy Center festival featuring today's top female jazz artists. The Washington Post says the festival "speaks volumes about the contributions women have made to jazz--and continue to make--both here and abroad." Each evening features three unique sets featuring remarkable female jazz musicians performing with their own ensembles.

Grace Kelly
Featuring Terri Lyne Carrington
At just 15 years old, saxophonist and Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead alumnus Grace Kelly is rapidly moving her way up in the jazz world. With talents that far outstrip others her age, Kelly has already recorded and performed with many extraordinary musicians in notable venues. She is an award-winning recording artist who has released three CDs as a bandleader, including her 2006 release, Every Road I Walked. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, who has recorded with Grace, will join her onstage as a special guest.

Catherine Russell
Vocalist Catherine Russell's musical prowess transcends genre. Born with an enviable jazz pedigree, Russell is the daughter of the late pioneering pianist and bandleader Luis Russell and bassist Carline Ray, who is a member of Jazzberry Jam, the 2005 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award. The Wall Street Journal says "it's a delight to hear the real thing in Catherine Russell, [who] hits a groove from note one on whatever she sings." Her latest acclaimed CD is called Sentimental Streak.

Keiko Matsui
Pianist Keiko Matsui returns to the Kennedy Center after a four-year absence to wow audiences with her contemporary sound that has garnered legions of fans worldwide. Her elegant piano melodies and gentle jazz grooves have enormous appeal and never disappoint her loyal fan base, which she has cultivated over a dozen albums and stunning live shows. Walls of Akendora, Matsui's latest recording of all-new material, showcases her signature sophisticated jazz style on tunes that range from the classically inspired to bold and brassy.

Helen Sung
Pianist Helen Sung has been called "marvelously imaginative" and "passionate," and her 2006 CD Helenistique was hailed as "one of the year's most exciting listens" (JazzTimes). With a recent appearance on NPR's Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, the release of her new CD Sungbird (after Albeniz) on Sunnyside Records, and winning the 2007 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Competition, good things are happening!

Sheila Jordan
2008 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award Recipient
All Music Guide says that vocalist Sheila Jordan is "one of the most consistently creative of all jazz singers." Starting with her 1962 debut Blue Note recording Portrait of Sheila, Jordan has become an iconic jazz figure, influencing many other artists in the jazz vocal genre. The New York Times raves, "Her ballad performances are simply beyond the emotional and expressive capabilities of most other vocalists." At this concert, the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award will be given to Sheila Jordan for her lifetime of service to jazz.

Sherrie Maricle and Five Play
Featuring Maria Anadon
Drummer Sherrie Maricle has found success as a jazz artist, music director, teacher, and composer. Five Play, led by Maricle, is a virtual "United Nations of Jazz," fusing world cultures with extraordinary musicianship. This synthesis of talent, passion, and global sensibility has produced a fresh, exciting quintet infused with imagination, rooted in jazz tradition, and unified by a collective inspiration. Five Play's repertoire is comprised of innovative arrangements of classic and contemporary standards, as well as original music composed by the band's members. The Washington Times says, "In the jazz world, ensembles come and go, but here's hoping Sherrie Maricle and Five Play stick around for a long, long time." They are joined by Portuguese vocalist Maria Anadon.

Sophie Milman
Since 24-year-old vocalist Sophie Milman's self-titled debut was released in 2004, it has sold almost 100,000 copies worldwide and hit the Billboard Top 5 in Canada and Top 15 in the United States. In 2006, Toronto's Globe and Mail declared, "Milman clearly fits the template for Hot Young Chanteuse, being stylish, good-looking, and vocally gifted…she's very, very good."

Cindy Blackman
Since 1993, percussionist Cindy Blackman has been seen and heard by millions of people all over the world-- performing with her own group, and for 11 years with retro funk rocker Lenny Kravitz. She released her seventh solo release Someday in 2004, and continues to be a solid, dependable drummer who can easily move from straight-ahead jazz to rock to funk and back again. Talking Drum asserts, "You can be assured that Ms. Blackman will be around for a long time to come."

Montclair Women's Big Band
Ellen Seeling, director, featuring Allison Miller and Vicki Randle
The Montclair Women's Big Band is an irresistible swing machine! Under the direction of veteran bandleader Ellen Seeling, and featuring boundary-defying drummer Allison Miller, the ensemble rivets audience attention from their first downbeat, and the commanding sound compels listeners to their feet and dancers to the floor. The groove is infectious, the visuals dramatic, the experience unforgettable. Prepare to be blown away by the Montclair Women's Big Band. They are joined by Tonight Show vocalist/percussionist Vicki Randle.


Media partner: WAMU 88.5 FM


Friday, May 16, 2008 at 12:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
4th Annual Women in Jazz Competition
A Performance Plus™ Event
Join five exceptional female jazz saxophonists as they display their talents and compete in front of a jury of renowned international musicians.  In this exciting two-part competition performance, the finalists share solo jazz works and trio arrangements showcasing their individuality and style. Don't miss this unique opportunity to see tomorrow's jazz greats. The competition prize is an opportunity to play in the 14th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival (May 2009).

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All events and artists subject to change without prior notice.

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