Musicians tell you what they’re excited to hear at this week’s DC Jazz Festival

This year, we do have our usual CapitalBop guide for what to see at the DC Jazz Festival — which starts today and runs through Sunday. But we’ve also decided to ask some of the finest musicians in and around D.C. for their picks: Everyone on here is playing at the festival themselves, but we’ve also asked them what other shows they’re excited to catch. 

Here’s what some of the members of our community are looking forward to this week; hopefully their description of 

Marc Cary: Hargrove documentary screening

“I am really excited to see and be a part of the panel for the Hargrove documentary. I feel grateful that his thoughts as a person and musician get to be heard and seen by people. This was his last big project before his transition.” —Marc Cary

The Hargrove documentary will be shown on Saturday at Arena Stage. Tickets are $15.

Marc Cary performs with his trio, featuring bassist Kris Funn, on Sunday at the Wharf. Tickets have three levels: free, $89 or $199.

Akua Allrich: Mambo Legends Orchestra and Cindy Blackman Santana

“This year’s DC Jazz Festival will be the first I have been able to attend in person in years. The festival has long been a source of pride for me as a D.C. native, but this year is extra special for me as a finalist in the D.C. JazzPrix competition. I’m really looking forward to representing D.C. with my Tribe and sharing the stage with some amazing musicians. I’m also getting my dance shoes ready for the Mambo Legends Orchestra and Cindy Blackman Santana! Let’s go DC JAZZFEST! OW!” —Akua Allrich

The Mambo Legends Orchestra and Cindy Blackman Santana both perform on Saturday at the Wharf. Tickets have three levels: free, $89 or $199.

Akua Allrich and the Tribe perform as part of the D.C. JazzPrix Finals on Saturday, September 3 at Union Stage; Tickets are $15-$25.

(Disclosure: Akua Allrich recently became a member of CapitalBop’s board of directors.)

Elijah Jamal Balbed: Chien Chien Lu

“As always, the DC Jazz Festival’s lineup is stacked with amazing bands and artists like Cindy Blackman Santana, Ron Carter, Orrin Evans, Christian McBride and so many more. Depending on my gig schedule this week, I hope to catch a few of those concerts. But one artist I’m particularly excited to see is Chien Chien Lu. There seems to be a lot of buzz about her lately, and from the clips I’ve heard she sounds swingin’ and soulful! I have roots in Indonesia and she’s Taiwanese, which are both islands off the coast of Southeast Asia. I always love to see more representation in this music from my part of the world. I’m also excited to see she’s got Richie Goods on bass, who in my opinion is one of the baddest bass players on the scene right now. Can’t wait to hear him, whether it’s on upright or electric.” —Elijah Jamal Balbed

Chien Chien Lu plays on Sunday at Union Stage. Tickets are $20-40.

Elijah Jamal Balbed performs with the Jo-Go Project on Friday at the Big Chair in Anacostia; registration is free.

Aaron Myers: The Baylor Project

“When I was asked to perform in the DC Jazz Festival, it was the fulfillment of a long-held goal.  Both Jazz enthusiasts and practitioners know well that the artists that participate in this festival are well regarded, guided by creativity, but above all true to community.  

“This year, there is one particular group that embodies these ideals and keeps my toes tapping, and that is the Baylor Project. Their latest album, Generations, is a project for all levels of jazz listeners and lovers. My favorite tune, “Happy to Be with You,” starts off echoing the influence of the late Aretha Franklin, and swells to tug at the roots of all music: Jazz, soul, R&B and gospel. You can hear elements of all these influences when you hear the Baylor Project.”  —Aaron Myers

The Baylor Project performs on Saturday at the Wharf. Tickets have three levels: free, $89 or $199.

Aaron Myers closes out the DC JazzFest, performing on Sunday at Union Stage. Tickets are $20-$40.



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,, 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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