15th annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival Hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater and Terri Lyne Carrington
May 20–22 in the Terrace Theater, the Kennedy Center presents the 15th anniversary of this annual festival. Jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington host--and perform on May 20--each evening's performances showcasing female musicians who are following in the footsteps of the sublime Mary Lou Williams. The concerts will be recorded for future radio broadcast on NPR's JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Howard University's jazz vocal ensemble, Afro Blue, opens each night's concert with a Williams vocal work arranged by Howard University's own Connaitre Miller, Afro Blue Music Director.
The opening night concert on Thursday, May 20, features an extended performance by an all-star quintet of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, and Grace Kelly; plus a set by 2009 Women in Jazz Competition–winning pianist Carmen Staaf.
On Friday, May 21, vocalist Catherine Russell returns to the Terrace Theater following her standing ovation turn in the 2007 festival. Plus, Kennedy Center big band favorite Sherrie Maricle and the DIVAJazz Orchestra take on some of Williams's heartiest charts.
On Saturday, May 22, the California-based, all-female big band Ann Patterson's Maiden Voyage performs a swinging set including several charts arranged by Mary Lou Williams for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Saxophonist Virginia Mayhew returns to the Festival after a ten-year absence, with a small ensemble salute to the divine Ms. Williams. The climax of the festival is the Mary Lou Williams Collective with pianist Geri Allen, Music Director, vocalist Carmen Lundy, and Afro Blue performing Mary Lou Williams's jazz masterwork,Mass,. The Washington Post says the festival "speaks volumes about the contributions women have made to jazz--and continue to make--both here and abroad."