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The Kennedy Center Announces Resumption of Live Jazz Programming

2021-2022 jazz season includes opera from Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding

Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran
Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran

Count the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as yet another large-scale organization that’s resuming its live jazz programming after about a year in shutdown mode. The renowned arts institution has announced its schedule for the 2021-2022 season, including the jazz season curated by Jason Moran, its artistic director for jazz.

“We welcome back the musicians, the audiences, the ushers, the security guards, the cooks, the janitors, the staff, the crew, and everyone else,” Moran said in a press release received by JazzTimes. “Now is the time to reengage the music. Our ears are hungry for what is sure to be a powerful decade of music. Just as the 1920s birthed a cultural milestone called the Harlem Renaissance, I’m confident that the 2020s will live in future history as another cultural watermark. The 2021–2022 Kennedy Center jazz season is filled with fresh ideas that will resuscitate aspects of our musical past and breathe life into the future of the genre. This kaleidoscope of ideas is shaped by each musician taking turns rotating the dial, spinning songs anew with each solo.”  

The jazz season kicks off on Oct. 30 with a special collaboration between Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and Dr. Cornel West. NPR’s annual A Jazz Piano Christmas returns on Dec. 4 with Gerald Clayton and Eric Reed confirmed as performers. The long-awaited debut of the opera Iphigenia, co-written by Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding with scenic design by noted architect Frank Gehry, comes to the Eisenhower Theater for two nights in December (10-11).  A Jazz New Year’s Eve program will feature Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés, and Joe Lovano performing duets.

Jimmy Greene kicks off 2022 when he brings his quintet to the Family Theater for “a night of reflection” on Jan. 22. Large ensembles also come along next year, including Christian McBride’s production of his The Movement Revisited on Feb. 4 and the Mingus Big Band on Apr. 8. Moran and Robert Glasper will perform a concert on Apr. 16. Hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival will celebrate its 25 anniversary on May 6-7 with performances by Allison Miller & Derrick Hodge, Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science, and Artemis.

In addition, the hip-hop season will feature Glasper in a two-week residency (Sept. 9-19), during which he’ll collaborate with Terrace Martin as Dinner Party for the first week, followed by a production of his Black Radio with special guests. The complete schedule of the 2021-2022 jazz season is below.

2021–2022 Jazz Season Schedule

October 30, 2021: Arturo O’Farrill, Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and Dr. Cornel West

December 4, 2021: NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas

December 10-11, 2021: Iphigenia

December 31, 2021: Jazz New Year’s Eve Duets = Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés & Joe Lovano

January 21, 2022: Jimmy Greene Quintet

February 4, 2022: Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited

April 8, 2022: Mingus Big Band

April 16, 2022: Robert Glasper & Jason Moran

May 6-7, 2022: Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival (25th Anniversary)

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