The Kennedy Center continues to bring female jazz artists into the spotlight with the 18th annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, named after our "First Lady of Jazz Piano." This annual three-night event, hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater, "speaks volumes about the contributions women have made to jazz" (The Washington Post). Featuring an impressive lineup of veteran and up-and-coming jazz artists, the roster for 2013 includes:
Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m.
Tineke Postma Quartet
Amina Claudine Myers Trio
Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton
Friday, May 17 at 7 p.m.
Helen Sung Quintet
Tillery featuring Rebecca Martin, Gretchen Parlato, and Becca Stevens
Regina Carter's Reverse Thread
Saturday, May 18 at 7 p.m.
Nicole Mitchell's Ice Crystal
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Cindy Blackman Santana's Explorations
In addition to the ticketed events featuring headliners and their respective ensembles in the Terrace Theater, the Center also presents free performances on the Millennium Stage and Explore the Arts educational events.
More information on each concert and artist:
THURSDAY, MAY 16 AT 7 P.M.
The festival opens with the Tineke Postma Quartet. JazzTimes says Postma "exhibits a vivacious stage presence along with commanding chops on both alto and soprano saxes." Next up, the Amina Claudine Myers Trio is led by the American pianist, organist, vocalist, and composer who has been praised for making "her piano pulsate with the essence of the music" (All About Jazz).
Sheila Jordan, recipient of the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award in 2008, NEA Jazz Master vocalist, and "one of the most consistently creative of all jazz singers" (All Music Guide), joins Thursday's concert in "Bebop to Freebop" with internationally acclaimed vocalist Jay Clayton. The Village Voice calls Clayton "the most adventurous singer in jazz, a specialist in wordless improvisation."
FRIDAY, MAY 17 AT 7 P.M.
Helen Sung Quintet, led by the "marvelously imaginative" (All About Jazz) winner of the 2007 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Piano Competition, opens Friday night's concert. Also on the program is "vocal supergroup" (JazzTimes) Tillery, a collaborative project that features Rebecca Martin, Gretchen Parlato (winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition), and Becca Stevens. The threesome's seamless creative chemistry and organic personal rapport make for a powerful combination.
The evening concludes with the dazzling Grammy-nominated violinist--and 2006 MacArthur Fellowship Award recipient--Regina Carter, "one of the top creative artists in America" (Time Magazine). She'll perform with her ensemble Reverse Thread.
SATURDAY, MAY 18 AT 7 P.M.
The last night of the festival begins with "Top Flutist of the Year" (DownBeat Critics Poll) Nicole Mitchell and her Ice Crystal quartet. Mitchell's music celebrates African American culture while reaching across genres. And following her KC Jazz Club debut last April as winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, Cécile McLorin Salvant returns with selections from her CD WomanChild.
Cindy Blackman Santana, a virtuoso drummer whose artistry spans the realms of jazz and rock, rounds out the lineup with her ensemble Explorations. "Some drummers act, some react. Some keep time, others create it. Cindy Blackman Santana is among the few who can" (International Herald Tribune).
Performance Timing: Approxiamtely 3 hours per concert, with brief pauses between sets.