It’s going to be a very jazzy June, with two big events wooing improv-music fans. But while Capital Jazz (June 1 through 3, Merriweather Post Pavilion; $69.50 to $245) and DC Jazz (June 8 through 17, various venues; free to $140) sound similar, their programming suggests wildly divergent ideas of what qualifies as jazz. Which is right for you?
Number of Acts:
’70s superstars Earth, Wind & Fire, Motown great Smokey Robinson, smooth-R&B singer Anita Baker, jazz-pop star Diana Krall, funk pioneer Larry Graham.
With a lineup heavy on R&B hitmakers of yore and lite-jazz saxophonists in fedoras, it leans smooth, soulful, and skronk-free.
People who tuck their T-shirts into their shorts.
Late-era Prince protégé Liv Warfield performing with the Purple One’s old horn section.
Low. Though organizers found room for American Idol winner Fantasia and New Jack Swing star Keith Sweat, it doesn’t feature a lot of actual jazz acts. Time to rename it the Capital Pop Fest?
Number of Acts:
Original Hamilton cast member Leslie Odom Jr., adventurous pianist Robert Glasper, legendary James Brown saxophonist Maceo Parker, jazz violinist Regina Carter, saxophonist Oliver Lake.
Full of critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated artists, the ten-day gathering is multicultural, forward-looking, and skronk-friendly.
People who look for Rudy Van Gelder’s name on vinyl reissues.
Guitarist Jeff Parker, a longtime member of the Chicago post-rock ensemble Tortoise who now makes mellow and melodic solo records.
High. Programming spans multiple styles and communities—from the traditional to the weird—while retaining a focus on innovation and improvisation.
This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of Washingtonian.