DC Jazz Fest’s blockbuster weekend at The Wharf

September 4 and 5, an eclectic multi-musician lineup from mid-day to midnight.

It’s been two years since the DC Jazz Festival delivered in-person performances, and my, how things have changed! Long known for its eclectic selection of avant garde performers, this year’s festival is no exception. 

Instead of a 10-day, two-week citywide event, the 2021 festival will pack a Summer of Soul–like multi-musician, two-day blockbuster weekend September 4 and 5 at The Wharf with each day including a major eight-performer lineup from mid-day to midnight.

Lakecia Benjamin 2019 Promotional Images

On Saturday, September 4, the headliner and best-known artist is Regina Carter featuring A Grand Night for Strings with Jenny Scheinman, The String Queens, and the Michael Bowie Trio. Also on this ambitious ticket of Big Band performers is the Maria Schneider Orchestra, who will be performing her Pulitzer Prize–finalist project and Grammy-winning “Data Lords” for a Large Jazz Ensemble that includes a 17-member orchestra! 

In between, an off-beat collection of lesser-known artists fill the bill including a rising star from New York City, Lakecia Benjamin. She features a unique celebration of John and Alice Coltrane’s heritage in her self-described “masterpiece” CD, Pursuance. 

For those who may not be familiar with her, “Lakecia is one of the most in-demand alto saxophonists right now,” according to her publicist, “and her 2020 album Pursuance was one of the top albums of the year, with accolades from NPR, The New York Times, The Financial Times, and the New Yorker, where she was granted a full-page spread. She was also the #1 Rising Star Alto Saxophonist last year in the Downbeat Critics Poll.”

So unless you are a guest at one of the $2,000 private cabanas, be prepared for a long afternoon and evening of massive set changes and beverage breaks that may allow you to take a stroll along the outdoor offering of sidewalk cafes; otherwise you may be a captive audience as a seated patron on the District and Transit Piers. 

The 2021 DC JazzFest takes place from September 1-5, with 20+ concerts, interviews and exclusive events featuring international superstars and homegrown talent. The signature event DC JazzFest at The Wharf will take place September 4–5, over Labor Day Weekend—a hybrid of in-person and livestream performances to a worldwide audience. This tentpole weekend will occur at the District Wharf, a waterfront destination with restaurants, shops, and stunning views. For more information, including venues, schedules, and artists, visit www.dcjazzfest.org/

The DC Jazz Festival has updated health and safety policies in an effort to prioritize the health and safety of patrons, volunteers, artists, and staff. All patrons attending 2021 DC JazzFest events (indoor and outdoor) will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test within the past 72 hours along with a matching photo ID.


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