5 live jazz picks for January in D.C.

As the calendar turns, I want to wish all the readers of this column continued health in the coming year, and I hope you’ve found some time for restoration this holiday season. In that spirit of meaningful rest, many venues in D.C. are taking the first week of the year easy. But January still provides plenty of opportunities for great live music.

Notably, two new residencies are in store for this month. Pianist and organist Greg Lamont will be anchoring a jazz brunch every Sunday at The Carlyle Room. Also, Dante Pope – who has been bouncing between D.C. and Nashville since joining Old Crow Medicine Show as drummer – will lead St. Vincent Wine’s “Soulful Sundays” jam this month.

Before we get to our picks, we’d also like to highlight two local jazz institutions with exciting programming coming up. Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Friday jazz series, now in its 24th year, starts off 2024 strong with a run of three shows: bass clarinetist Todd marcus on Jan. 5; saxophonist Antonio Parker on Jan. 12; and pianist Tim Whalen leading a seven-piece ensemble tribute to Art Blakey on Jan. 19.

As well, Takoma Station is gearing up for another banner year. Be sure to catch Marc Cary’s fabulous Indigenous People Project (which CB once presented at the DC JazzFest) on Jan. 27, the first in a series of monthly gigs the D.C. native has planned at the tavern over the winter and spring. Ditto for a rare live show from Akua Allrich and Kris Funn’s jazz and electro duo Idol Beings, which plays Takoma Station on Jan. 13

For all other live jazz needs in 2024, consult the full D.C. jazz calendar


Wednesday, Jan. 3, 6 p.m.
Kennedy Center – Millennium Stage (free, but register)
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Alex Hamburger grew up in D.C., playing with friends and bandleaders in the mid-2010s. After some time away, the flautist, vocalist and composer returned to the District in 2021. Her original music is always full of emotional weight, yet remains immediate and approachable. Her 2021 debut quartet album And She Spoke pays homage to forebears that pioneered space for other women in the arts.

Hamburger’s 2023 album, What If?, is a sonic journey in the vein of Joni Mitchell’s jazz odysseys like Mingus and Hejira.


Thursday Jan. 11, 7:00 p.m.
Rhizome D.C. (tickets) (masks required)
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This bill features a multi-generational coalition of local bandleaders and groups performing together to raise money for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. The event is the brainchild of pianist Alfred Yun, who is leading his own group alongside percussionists and bandleaders Jaden Shahin and Keith Butler Jr. Other performers will include flautist and vocalist Alex Hamburger, drummer Paul Jung, French horn player Abe Mamet and violinist Jamie Sandel, and more.

Editor’s Note: While Mamet and Sandel are both CapitalBop staffers; neither had a hand in selecting this show for the column.


Sunday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m.
The Birchmere (tickets)
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Since the start of her career, Patrice Rushen has been an example of the kind of boundary-crossing hybridism that has only recently become commonplace in jazz, boasting virtuoso-level piano talent alongside the ability to craft, produce and sing dance hits that have climbed the pop charts. She’s perhaps best known for “Forget Me Nots,” which was later turned into the “Men In Black” theme song, and many of her recordings have been sampled by younger generations of musicians.

Nowadays she serves as the chair of USC’s popular music program and continues to perform regularly.


Saturday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m.
Howard Theater (tickets)
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The Blackbyrds are a D.C. jazz institution going back almost five decades. Founded by legendary hard-bop trumpeter and soul fusionist Donald Byrd, who taught at Howard University, the Blackbyrds started performing Byrd’s charged tunes inspired by ’70s funk, R&B and electrified bop. The group’s sound has morphed with the times and the evolving sound of R&B, all while retaining an unquestionable level of musicianship. 

The group celebrates its ongoing 50th anniversary with a homecoming show at the Howard Theater.


Friday, Jan. 26, 8 p.m.
Music Center at Strathmore (tickets)
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Under the stewardship of Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has become the premiere repertoire big band in jazz. It has built and defended a classic vision of the music that draws from many streams of the tradition.

Here the group marks the centennial of percussionist, bandleader, activist and composer Max Roach. With Roach’s catalog of long-form suites and other compositions, there is no shortage of material to pull from.

*Editor’s note: a previous version of this article listed Warren Wolf as the Jan. 5 artist at Westminster Presbyterian Church; due to a programming change, that concert will now feature the Todd Marcus Quintet.



About Jackson Sinnenberg

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Jackson Sinnenberg is a broadcast journalist and a freelance writer. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, JazzTimes, Downbeat, NPR Music, NPR.org, the Washington City Paper, On Tap/District Fray Magazine and the blog of Smithsonian Folkways Records. He began covering the city’s music scene for WGTB, Georgetown University’s radio station, where he was a show host, writer, and columnist. He graduated from Georgetown with a bachelor’s degree in American Musical Culture. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow him at @sinnenbergmusic.

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