Review: DC Jazz Festival salutes Howard University jazz on high note

On Monday, June 13, the Kennedy Center was filled with the sounds of jazz. The DC Jazz Festival ended its four-day citywide jazz celebration with a salute to Howard University Jazz.

The night, hosted by ABC Good Morning Washington’s Larry Smith included music from NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson whose songs included his hit “Killer Joe.” The all-star Howard University Alum celebration also included performances by some of the finest musical artists, educators and scholars.

Another highlight of the night was gospel legend and Howard alum Richard Smallwood who took to the piano and played “I Love the Lord” and his international anthem, “Total Praise.”Richard Smallwood at jazz festival at Kennedy CenterProving that jazz continues to remain alive and well with the younger generation, accapella group Afro Blue, proved that’s not the case. The vocal jazz ensemble thrilled the audience with their offerings, including a stylized version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

Fathers of jazz education, Professor Fred Irby and Dr. Arthur Dawkins received the DC Jazz Festival Lifetime Achievement Award for their contributions and impact on jazz.
Other performances included DC Jazz Festival Executive Director Sunny Sumter and Donvonte McCoy, Reginald Cyntje, Loston Harris, Tim Warfield and Greg Osby. Shelton Becton performed “Where Is God?” to a standing ovation. Baltimore native Cyrus Chestnut served as musical director and also was on piano throughout the night.

Sunny Sumpter performs at DC Jazz Festival

The night concluded with Howard University alumni taking the stage together for a musical tour de force to close the evening.

DC Jazz Festival continues through June 19th. Go to for the full schedule.

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