The Rosslyn Jazz Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary with a succinct yet powerful set of performances on September 11, 2010. The one-day event was held in Gateway Park in Arlington, Virginia, just over the Key Bridge from the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. The stage sat at the bottom of a sloped grassy section, surrounded otherwise by concrete walkways and the streets and buildings of downtown Arlington, best known previously as the home of USA Today and Gannett Publishing. The natural amphitheatre provided listeners with excellent sightlines from all over the park. Like at many outdoor festivals, the crowd filled all the available space with their portable chairs, blankets, picnic baskets and even a few baby strollers. The appreciative but relatively sedate audience was very diverse and included listeners across all age groups. The weather was nearly ideal and the blue skies formed a beautiful backdrop for the performances on the stage.
The festival was sponsored by the Rosslyn Renaissance and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID), whose support enabled the event to remain free to the public. Local DC community radio station WPFW FM served as the media partner and its radio hosts, including Willard Jenkins and Miyuki Williams, served as emcees for the event. Jim Byers, a employee of the Arlington Cultural Affairs office and a longtime jazz radio host at WPFW, programmed the festival and did an impressive job in booking artists who presented highly creative, even edgy, material in a very accessible format. This year’s lineup featured two of the most critically acclaimed piano trios on the modern jazz scene – Jason Moran’s Bandwagon trio (with Tarus Mateen and Nasheet Waits) and The Bad Plus (with Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson and David King). Both groups played energetic one hour sets with material pulled mostly from their most recent albums, Moran’s Ten and The Bad Plus’s Never Stop. Those two powerhouse trios were sandwiched on the bill by opening act Afro Bop Alliance, a local Latin jazz group, and the headliner – vocalist Tierney Sutton and her band. As the day went on the crowd grew, and by the end of the festival there was barely a spot of green open on the park lawn. No attendance was announced but this veteran crowd counter estimated that there were around a few thousand folks in attendance at any given time.
The photos here were taken by JazzTimes’ editor in chief Lee Mergner and longtime contributor Larry Appelbaum.