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Mary Lou Williams (photo courtesy Rutgers Institute for Jazz Studies)

Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival - 14th annual

Hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater, the festival marks its 14th thrilling year with three evenings of star-studded performances featuring the world's top female jazz artists.

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About

"The festival's music speaks volumes about the contributions women have made to jazz--and continue to make--both here and abroad."
--The Washington Post
 
Three Sensational Concerts Hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater

All the 2007 and 2008 concerts sold out--so for 2009, 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."

THURSDAY, MAY 14 AT 7 P.M.
 Timing: Approx. 3 hours; there is a brief pause after each performance, and no intermission
Esperanza Spalding
Bassist, vocalist, and composer Esperanza Spalding has been called "an irresistible performer" (The Seattle Times). Blessed with uncanny instrumental skills, a multilingual voice that is part angel and part siren, and a natural beauty that borders on the hypnotic, the 23-year-old prodigy-turned-pro released her self-titled international debut recording in May 2008. Three years ago she became the second youngest instructor in Berklee School of Music's history after a teenage Pat Metheny.  Timing: 50 minutes
 
Anat Cohen and the Anzic Orchestra
An established bandleader and prolific composer, idiomatically conversant with modern and traditional jazz, classical music, Brazilian choro, Argentine tango, and an expansive timeline of Afro-Cuban styles, Anat Cohen has established herself as one of the primary voices of her generation on both the tenor saxophone and clarinet since arriving in New York in 1999. "Cohen has emerged as one of the brightest, most original young instrumentalists in jazz…[she] has expanded the vocabulary of jazz with a distinctive accent of her own" (The Washington Post). She's joined by the Anzic Orchestra, an all-star ensemble comprising three woodwinds, three trumpets, two trombones, three cellos, and a guitar-bass-drums-percussion rhythm section.  Timing: 55 minutes
 
Janis Siegel
Over the past three decades, Janis Siegel has been an undeniable vocal force in The Manhattan Transfer and through her own solo career. She was last seen at the Kennedy Center in October 2006 with songs made famous by the Duke plus selections from her solo CD, A Thousand Beautiful Things. At the 2004 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, the Washington Post hailed her for her "extraordinary vocal gifts."  Timing: 55 minutes
 
 
FRIDAY, MAY 15 AT 7 P.M.
 Timing: Approx. 3 hours; with a 20-minute award ceremony; there is no intermission
Hailey Niswanger
Saxophonist Hailey Niswanger won the 2008 Kennedy Center Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Competition. At the young age of 19, she has played in venues across the country and shared the stage with many great jazz artists, including George Duke, George Garzone, Red Holloway, Terell Stafford, Phil Woods, James Moody, Steve Nelson, Taylor Eigsti, Christian McBride, McCoy Tyner, Maceo Parker, and Wynton Marsalis. She is currently studying jazz performance at the Berklee College of Music in Boston on full scholarship.  Timing: 45 minutes, followed by award ceremony
 
Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans
String instruments, congas, and frijoles (beans, habichuelas) might seem like a strange mixture of ingredients, but in the hands of percussionist and composer Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans, her Latin Brazilian jazz band, they become a musical feast. This exquisite ensemble blends Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian rhythms with harp, guitar, violin, piano, and bass creating the unique StringBeans string and percussion sound.  Timing: 45 minutes, followed by a brief pause
 
Dee Dee Bridgewater
A Grammy winner for her recording Dear Ella, a Tony winner for The Wiz, and a London Olivier Award nominee for Lady Day, Dee Dee Bridgewater is touted by the Village Voice as "the most capable jazz singer of her generation…she is the gold standard by which all divas will now be measured, a total package entertainer."  Timing: 60 minutes
 
Sherrie Maricle
2009 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award Recipient
Drummer Sherrie Maricle coordinates successes as a jazz artist, music director, teacher, and composer. From the drum set, Maricle leads her big band The DIVA Jazz Orchestra and her quintet FIVE PLAY. From Carnegie Hall, she performs with the New York Pops and is also the orchestra's Director of Education. As a music director, Sherrie works with acclaimed Broadway star Maurice Hines. As a teacher, she runs a private drum set and percussion studio and is also a conductor for the New York Summer Festival. At this concert, the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award will be given to Sherrie Maricle for her lifetime of service to jazz.
 
 
SATURDAY, MAY 16 AT 7 P.M.
 Timing: 3-1/2 hours, including award announcement and one 15-minute intermission
Anne Drummond
Highly acclaimed flutist Anne Drummond has "an arresting style, bending notes without raiding blues clichés, pouring out throbbing phrases behind the beat" (DownBeat). Whether leading her quartet or performing alongside pianist Kenny Barron, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, or bassist Avishai Cohen, Drummond is an original whose voice is lyrical and powerful, subtle yet driving.  
Timing: 45 minutes, followed by 20-minute award announcement
 
Carmen Lundy
Kennedy Center favorite Carmen Lundy is a woman of many faces: composer, arranger, producer, actress, painter, and sophisticated vocalist well known for her progressive bop and post-bop stylings--"in a world of pretenders, she's a genuine jazz singer" (Los Angeles Times). Equally adept at love-struck ballads, songs of heartbreak, or full-out swing, Lundy wields a voice of "agility and seductive allure [that] make for a potent combination."  Timing: 50 minutes, followed by intermission
 
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Last heard at the Center in 1997, the Maria Schneider Orchestra is "twenty-one musicians of tremendous technical sophistication and emotional energy [who] channel their talents through the direction of the most significant big-band jazz composer of our time" (The Christian Science Monitor). Maria Schneider's music has been described as evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.  Timing: 80 minutes


FREE PERFORMANCES ON THE KENNEDY CENTER MILLENNIUM STAGE
NO TICKETS REQUIRED
 
THURSDAY, MAY 14
Mimi Jones Band
Mimi Jones, a.k.a. bassist and Kennedy Center favorite Miriam Sullivan, brings a top-drawer group with her as she returns to the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival following her star turn in the 2004 event. Jones's performance features original works from a soon-to-be-released CD, The New Day (New Tone Music).
Millennium Stage
Performance at 6 p.m.
 
FRIDAY, MAY 15
Fifth Annual Women in Jazz Competition
A Performance Plus™ event

In honor of Mary Lou Williams, the Kennedy Center presents this exciting two-part pianist competition, in which five finalists get to display their talents in front of Millennium Stage audiences and a jury of renowned international musicians. The winner will be announced on Saturday evening during the festival's 7 p.m. performance in the Terrace Theater. The winner will enjoy the opportunity to perform as part of the 15th annual festival in 2010.
Millennium Stage
Performances from 12:30–2 p.m. & 6–7 p.m.


SATURDAY, MAY 16
Moving With the Spirit: The Sacred Jazz of Mary Lou Williams
A Performance Plus™ event
Mary Lou Williams strived to be a force for emotional healing through her music. In the 1960s, always one step ahead of innovations in jazz, Williams began focusing on music composition for the Catholic Church. The resulting music inspired others like Duke Ellington to create their own sacred jazz. Mary Lou Williams biographer Dr. Tammy Kernodle and award-winning pianist and composer Deanna Witkowski present a program of performance and discussion devoted to the sacred jazz works of Mary Lou Williams.
Millennium Stage
Performance at 6 p.m.

Related Events

Moving With the Spirit: The Sacred Jazz of Mary Lou Williams Mary Lou Williams biographer Dr. Tammy Kernodle and award-winning pianist and composer Deanna Witkowski present a program of performance and discussion devoted to the sacred jazz works of Mary Lou Williams.

All events and artists subject to change without prior notice.

Group of 20 or more? Group Sales offers special terms and discounts for most performances.

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