The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced its complete 2022-23 jazz season. The lineup is a mix of legends and emerging voices, and highlights Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran’s mission to showcase the interdisciplinary nature of performance on the modern jazz scene.
Some familiar events return, such as NPR’s annual “A Jazz Piano Christmas,” this year featuring veteran West Viriginia pianist Bob Thompson, the prodigous Hiromi and D.C.’s own young ivory whiz, José André Montaño; the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, hosted by and featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater; and the second performance of lauded vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant’s mythic, socially informed song cycle Ogresse.
Two jazz legends – Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés and trumpeter Terence Blanchard – kick off the season in October with presentations of relatively new thematic works. Valdés brings forth La Creación, a new work for big band that emphasizes Afro-Cuban percussion, Santería ritual music and the influence of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew; Blanchard will perform Absence, his tribute to Wayne Shorter.
The Kennedy Center’s jazz season includes two duos that specifically speak to that that mix of progressive and traditional. In one, straight-ahead stalwart Javon Jackson partners with the legendary poet Nikki Giovanni. In the other, Esperanza Spalding, the bassist, vocalist and composer who does not know the meaning of boundaries in music, duets with the singular pianist Fred Hersch.
Shortly after Spalding and Hersch’s performance, saxophonist Logan Richardson brings his much-lauded Blues People project.
Of course, the season also features some heavy-hitting legends. The Kennedy Center will celebrate International Jazz Day in 2023 with a performance by the legendary South African pianist and NEA Jazz Master Abdullah Ibrahim and his ensemble Ekaya. The whole run of shows wraps up May 14, with the return of iconic guitarist George Benson to D.C.
More information is available at the Kennedy Center’s website. Tickets are currently available as a subscription package and not on an individual show basis. Show tickets will go on-sale soon.