Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival Set for May 16-18

D.C. program to be hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater

Tineke Postma
Cindy Blackman Santana
Cécile McLorin Salvant

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Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will present the 18th annual Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival on May 16-18. With pianist-composer Jason Moran serving as the Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz, the program, hosted by singer Dee Dee Bridgewatter, will features such headlining artists as Sheila Jordan, Regina Carter, Cindy Blackman Santana, Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition winners Gretchen Parlato and Cécile McLorin Salvant, and others.

As in previous years, these ticketed events in the Terrace Theater will be recorded for possible future broadcast on NPR’s JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.

Performance Schedule

Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m., Terrace Theater

The concert opens with saxophonist Tineke Postma and her quartet in a performance demonstrating why Downbeat’s 2012 Poll identified Postma as a Rising Star in the soprano and alto sax categories. Jazz pianist Amina Claudine Myers then takes the stage to lead her trio in a thrilling performance before the evening closes with NEA Jazz Master and vocalist Sheila Jordan as she joins forces with innovative vocalist Jay Clayton.

Friday, May 17 at 7 p.m., Terrace Theater

The second night of the festival will begin with pianist Helen Sung, winner of the Kennedy Center’s 2007 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Competition, as she takes the stage with her quintet. Next, vocal trio Tillery, featuring Rebecca Martin, 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition winner Gretchen Parlato, and Becca Stevens, will perform an assortment of tunes. The evening will conclude with violinist Regina Carter as she presents Reverse Thread, a program featuring African folk melodies that blends violin with the kora (West African harp) and accordion.

Saturday, May 18 at 7 p.m., Terrace Theater

The festival closes with a set by flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal, which explores water and glass chemistry of flute and vibes by combining the creative flutist with young luminary Jason Adasiewicz on vibraphone. French American singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition, then performs her unique interpretation of standard jazz classics. Drummer Cindy Blackman Santana leads her own innovative group, Explorations, with a set blending elements of jazz and rock.

Ticket Information

Performances for the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival will run May 16-18 in the Terrace Theater at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $38, and may be purchased in-person at the box office, online, or by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.

For more information, visit Kennedy Center.