Saturday, February 05, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Standing Up For Real Jazz

Its less than two weeks until this year’s Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival taking place at the Rockville, Maryland Hilton Hotel over the President’s Day Weekend. Under the auspices of Washington DC area saxophonist and educator, Paul Carr, the Festival has a focus on not simply bringing some of the best local and national jazz performers to the area, but to help nurture and support Jazz Education.

The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival was attempt to continue the legacy of the East Coast Jazz Festival that ran for 15 years starting in 1992. The ECJF originated in honor of Elmore “Fish” Middleton, a Washington, DC jazz radio programmer, whose commitment to promoting jazz music and supporting emerging jazz artists became the guiding principle behind the festival. The driving force of the ECJF was the late Ronnie Wells, a Washington DC jazz icon. After her passing, so did the ECJF.

Jimmy Heath will be featured at the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. He is seen here at the 2005 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with brother, Albert 'Tootie' Heath as The Heath Brothers.
As stated on its website “The Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival (MAJF) represents an auspicious renewal of the spirit and intent of the ECJF, as a showcase for some of the DC area’s finest established and emerging artists, student ensembles, and a healthy dose of renowned touring jazz artists as well. MAJF is designed to take the ECJF mid-winter jazz festival tradition to the next level and to further enhance arts & culture in the Washington, DC region.”

This year’s MAJF has an auspicious program and here are links to the overview ( the activities the festival website as well as a full schedule (

Here are some acts of special interest to me.

Friday night, February 18, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ronnie Wells Main Stage will be the explosive Nasar Abadey & Supernova, celebrating their brand new release Diamond in the Rough. This group with Joe Ford, James King and Allyn Johnson was also one of the group’s that participated in 2010 in “The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad,” a program that Jazz at Lincoln Center administers for the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

At 10PM that night, the great Jimmy Heath will be performing. One of the giants of modern jazz as a saxophonist, composer, big band leader, he has truly walked with giants which alludes to his recently published autobiography and he is an NEA Jazz Master. Earlier in the day Jimmy will be doing a JazzTimes magazine Before & After blindfold test with Larry Applebaum. Heath will be signing his autobiography, I Walked With Giants, on Saturday.

Saturday has many events.

Williard Jenkins will be signing African Rhythms, the autobiography of Randy Weston (Composed by Randy Weston, Arranged by Willard Jenkins).

Janine Gilbert-Carter at 2008 DC Blues Festival
At 1:30 the Festival presents an acclaimed program of the essence of jazz song: “Sistas Can Sang,” a tribute to female legends of jazz & blues featuring the voices of Lavenia Nesmith, Janine Gilbert-Carter, Bonnie Harris, Kristine Key, and Dottye Williams. I look forward to this. Of these ladies, I have only had the pleasure of seeing Janine Carter-Gilbert perform.

At 7:00PM, The Bobby Broom Trio will be performing on the Main Stage. I recently reviewed his CD of Sonny Rollins recordings and greatly anticipate this performance.

At 10:00PM the great Freddie Cole performs. Freddie is also participating in a JazzTimes magazine Before & After blindfold test during the Festival.

Sunday afternoon will include a gospel brunch and a performance by saxophonist Kirk Whalum who has a recent recording that is a tribute to the music of Donny Hathaway.

Sunday night the Jazz Academy Orchestra featuring special guest, trumpeter Randy Brecker, will perform at 7:00 PM.

Sharon Clark, one of the Washington area’s finest vocalists will be on the main stage at 8:30PM

Sharon Clark at 2007 Duke Ellington Jazz Festival
Paul Carr will lead his quintet featuring Bobby Broom, Allyn Johnson, Michael Bowie, and Harold Summey at 10PM.

Local High School Big Bands will be performing in the Hotel Atrium throughout the Festival and also a smaller venue, MAJF Club that will feature a number of performers.

As can be seen, this will be a pretty full weekend of music. The website for the festival with all the details is

I am looking forward to it and hope to post on the shows (hopefully with some photos).

I took the photos on this page.

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