The Kennedy Center


Featured this season 2

Upcoming Events

Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet: The Karma Suite

Thu, Jan 23, 2020

Award-winning saxophonist, educator, Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead graduate, and Washington, D.C. native Elijah Jamal Balbed is best known as a performing musician around town, having played with the likes of Cyrus Chestnut, Lalah Hathaway, Eric Benet, Dr. John, and the late, great Chuck Brown. He’s also deeply rooted into D.C.'s indigenous genre—Go-Go. Join Balbed and his quintet for an evening of music from their newest album, The Karma Suite.

Buy Tickets

Kassa Overall's "Blue Swamini" featuring Carmen Lundy

Sat, Jan 25, 2020

Coming off a long run DJing with Jon Batiste and the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, New York–based drummer, rapper, producer, and all-around Renaissance man Kassa Overall is making the switch to full-time front-man. His genre-bending new project “Blue Swamini” pays tribute to the late, great Alice Coltrane, channeling her spirituality through African American blues. Kennedy Center favorite Carmen Lundy joins the program, demonstrating why the Evening Standard declares, “In a world of pretenders, Carmen Lundy is a genuine jazz singer.”

Buy Tickets

Linda May Han Oh, Aventurine

Thu, Feb 6, 2020

Linda May Han Oh’s critically-acclaimed recent album, Aventurine, fuses left-field jazz, string quartet, and choir. Its genius recently moved an NPR critic to write, “Beyond her authority and dynamic presence as a bassist, Oh has become a first-rate bandleader and composer.” A supreme supporter of the jazz community, she’s racked up impressive credits collaborating with artists like Pat Metheny, Vijay Iyer, Dave Douglas, the late Geri Allen, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Time and time again, this young Australian powerhouse proves why her talent is so sought after.

Buy Tickets

Ahmad Jamal

Sat, Feb 8, 2020

Ahmad Jamal may be the last original jazzman. Though he now has a key on the piano for each year of life, Jamal's performances are as fresh as ever. The NEA Jazz Master, Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and Kennedy Center Living Legend has developed a wide following among mainstream audiences, longtime music lovers, and jazz legends—even now, there’s simply no one who plays quite like Jamal.

Buy Tickets

Jason Moran and The Bandwagon + Cassandra Wilson & Marvin Sewell

Fri, Feb 28, 2020

Join Jason Moran and his bandmates, bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their superlative, chance-taking trio, The Bandwagon. They’ll reflect on their musical journey with a special concert experience featuring some of their most creative friends: singer/songwriter Cassandra Wilson and blues/jazz guitarist Marvin Sewell.

Buy Tickets

Jason Palmer, “Upward”

Sat, Feb 29, 2020

In 2018, trumpeter/educator/composer Jason Palmer and pianist/composer Kevin Harris interviewed a very special group of Boston mothers who had lost their children to gun violence. “Upward” their new multimedia presentation in which musicians transcribe tones and melodic flow to these courageous women’s words and stories, with the intent of honoring and celebrating the legacy of their loved ones in addition to bringing awareness to the need to end such acts in our community.

Buy Tickets

jaimie branch's Fly or Die (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Wed, Mar 11, 2020

Rolling Stone says jaimie branch sounds like “Art Ensemble of Chicago jamming at an art-punk loft.” For more than a decade, the Brooklyn–based trumpeter/composer has joined diverse acts like William Parker, Spoon, TV on the Radio, and Bell Orchestre, always down to play with anyone from jazz masters to doom metal bands. Now, she’s touring with music from her critically acclaimed sophomore album FLY or DIE II: bird dogs of paradise, a sharply focused work that’s “highly sensitive, a bit stormy, and completely brilliant” (Free Jazz Collective).

Buy Tickets

Jazz Doodle Jam! Jason Moran & Bandwagon + Mo Willems

Mar 13 – 14, 2020

Jazz Doodle Jam! is an intimate jazz concert where you collaborate with the band! Sit down at a table covered with paper, grab a marker or crayon, and join host Mo Willems for a new kind of participatory musical experience. Kids and grown-ups doodle to music played onstage by Jason Moran and The Bandwagon. The band reacts and improvises to the audience’s explorations, jamming together with pictures and music, blurring the lines between artists and audience. All ages welcome!

Buy Tickets

Camila Meza and the Nectar Orchestra (part of DIRECT CURRENT)

Sat, Mar 14, 2020

Arriving on the New York jazz scene in 2009 from her native Chile, singer/guitarist Camila Meza made a name for herself immediately, delivering what the New York Times describes as “an appealing combination of lightness and depth to all material... Her improvising, on electric or acoustic guitar, is serious business.” Drawing inspiration from American jazz, Latin American music, and popular songs across decade and genre, Meza wows audiences with her rare combination of talents: fantastic singing, complex guitar work, and vivid musical storytelling. She’ll be performing music from her newest recording, Ámbar.

Buy Tickets

Concerts for Young Audiences: Justin Kauflin

Sat, Mar 21, 2020

Justin Kauflin is a “jazz pianist who favors a clarity of touch and ideas, rarely spinning into an orbit he can’t control” (The New York Times). 

Buy Tickets

Immanuel Wilkins

Sat, Mar 21, 2020

Despite his youth, saxophonist, composer, arranger, and bandleader Immanuel Wilkins has already toured the world. He’s worked and recorded with Jason Moran, Solange Knowles, Bob Dylan, Gerald Clayton, the Count Basie Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, and many more icons of the industry. A recent graduate of Julliard, Wilkins is already poised for great things.

Buy Tickets

Clarence Penn, Penn Station

Thu, Apr 9, 2020

Since beginning his professional career at 15, versatile drum master Clarence Penn has toured, performed, and recorded with a diverse who's who, including Roberta Flack, Dizzy Gillespie, Dianne Reeves, Wyclef Jean, Ellis and Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter, and Cyrus Chestnut. Witness his technical mastery and interpretation of classical, hard-bop, funk, experimental, and jazz styles.

Buy Tickets

Kevin Ross

Fri, Apr 10, 2020

Known for his soul-drenched, buttery, smooth vocals, Washington D.C. native Kevin Ross is a multifaceted singer, songwriter, and producer who has toured with R&B/Soul artist Maxwell and written for artists like Jaime Foxx.

Buy Tickets

Cyrus Chestnut, Saga of the Cross

Fri, Apr 10, 2020

Baltimore native, Howard University professor, and pianist Cyrus Chestnut is known for swinging us right to church, and his talent for mixing jazz, spirituals, hymns, and down-home blues is apparent in his most recent composition. On Good Friday, the Concert Hall transforms for Saga of the Cross, Cyrus’s large-scale service complete with gospel choirs, African drum troupes, jazz ensembles, a full pipe organ, and more. It’s a celebration of community, of African American culture, and of a D.C. jazz master.

Buy Tickets

Laurin Talese

Wed, Apr 15, 2020

"Some of the most luxuriant, sumptuously phrased jazz vocals you could hope to hear.”
Chicago Tribune

For Laurin Talese, winner of the 2018 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, jazz is a profound, cinematic experience. The naturally gifted and remarkably well-trained singer has been astounding audiences and critics since the age of 10, and has now shared the stage with big-name artists like Bilal, Gregory Porter, Patti LaBelle, Robert Glasper, Vivian Green, and others.

Buy Tickets

The Second City & Kennedy Center's Jazz Comedy Experiment

Apr 16 – 18, 2020

Join us along with Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran for a true experience in creative expression across the worlds of music and comedy.

Buy Tickets

René Marie

Sat, Apr 18, 2020

René Marie, a "jazz singer with the talent, the imagination, and the sheer presence to be included in the very top level of performers" (The Los Angeles Times), joins Renée Fleming's VOICES series in an unforgettable and intimate performance.

Buy Tickets

Jason Moran's Fats Waller Dance Party

Sat, Apr 25, 2020

Nearly 90 years ago, jazz music was party music. Jazz got people moving, whether played uptown or downtown in Depression-era juke joints across the country. The legendary Fats Waller—and his ability to get everyone on the dance floor—helped make the movement happen. Jason Moran keeps Waller’s life-of-the-party spirit alive in this multimedia/dance party event, reimagining the Harlem pianist’s hits as Afrobeat, funk, house music, and more modern grooves.

Buy Tickets

Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival: Silver Anniversary

May 8 – 9, 2020

For 25 years, the Kennedy Center has paid tribute to legendary jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981). On May 8, the Kennedy Center celebrates the 70th Birthday of an artist who performed at the first Williams Festival in 1996, host and NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater. Join Dee Dee as she takes the stage to perform with a select group of her closest friends in a birthday bash not-to-be missed. On May 9, the Festival continues with the featured supergroup, Artemis, with Renee Rosnes, Noriko Ueda, Allison Miller, Melissa Aldana, Ingrid Jensen, and Anat Cohen. Celebrate the life and work of Mary Lou Williams—who blazed a trail by overcoming industry gender and racial discrimination with a fearless devotion to musical innovation and creativity. A full line-up will be announced at a later date.

Buy Tickets

Washington Performing Arts presents Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Thu, May 21, 2020

Trumpet master Marsalis and the incomparable JLCO perform a swinging tribute to four jazz giants.

Buy Tickets