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The DC Jazz Festival® (DCJF) announces it Opening Night celebration of the 20th Anniversary of DC JazzFest on Wednesday, August 28 at the stunning new Australian Embassy at Scott Circle. Hosted by the Embassy of Australia, DC JazzFest Opening Night will feature three-time-Grammy nominated saxophonist and bandleader Lakecia Benjamin, with special guest Australian jazz titan and multi-instrumentalist James Morrison.

The international celebration highlights the universal appeal of jazz and its power to bring people from all corners of the world together. “The 20th edition of DC JazzFest marks a significant milestone as we celebrate jazz as a global brand,” said Sunny Sumter, President and CEO of the DC Jazz Festival. “We are excited to kick off the festival in downtown Washington, D.C., alongside our friends at the Embassy of Australia.”

DC JazzFest’s Opening Night at the Embassy of Australia exemplifies the organization’s strong partnerships with DC’s foreign embassy community. Opening Night event presents a unique opportunity to enhance international relations and promote positive cultural diplomacy through jazz.

Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, the Hon. Dr Kevin Rudd AC, said it was an honor for the Australian Embassy to host the event that would kick-off 20th birthday celebrations for DC JazzFest. “Having these two jazz greats performing together in the soaring atrium of our new Embassy will be a truly electrifying experience.”

The 2024 DC JazzFest will take place August 28 through September 1, 2024 with more than 100 performances in 12 DC neighborhoods citywide. The largest jazz festival in the Mid-Atlantic region, the DC JazzFest will feature an extraordinary array of performers encompassing an incredible range of jazz/jazz-informed expressions, from DC legends and emerging talents to international superstars.

Lakecia Benjamin is fresh off her new album Phoenix Reimagined, her first live studio album, first announced on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where she sat in with the Late Show Band. Benjamin is a 3-time GRAMMY nominated alto saxophonist, arranger, composer and educator whose warm, resonant, fire-breathing saxophone tone is a throwback to some of the great masters of the instrument. Her career began in the big band led by the great trumpeter and NEA Jazz Master Clark Terry, and has included stints with NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington, renowned vocalist Gregory Porter, and acclaimed trumpeter Theo Croker. Born in New York City and raised in the Dominican bastion of Washington Heights, Benjamin attended LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts and New School University, where she studied under such renowned players as Billy Harper, Buster Williams and NEA Jazz Masters Reggie Workman and Gary Bartz. She went on to perform and tour with Missy Elliot, Alicia Keys, Anita Baker, Rashied Ali, Vanessa Rubin, the David Murray Big Band, and James Blood Ulmer. As a music educator, Benjamin has taught at Jazz at Lincoln Center and at Jazz House Kids.  

James Morrison, the amazing Australian multi-instrumentalist, will join Lakecia Benjamin’s band as a special guest soloist. His main instrument is the trumpet, but he also excels at the trombone, tuba, euphonium, flugelhorn, saxophone, clarinet, double bass, guitar and piano. An amazingly dexterous musician nearly without precedent, Morrison is also a composer and arranger for ensembles of all sizes. He composed the opening fanfare music for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In 2012, Morrison was appointed as Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival. The following year, he was inducted into the Graeme Bell Hall of Fame at the Australian Jazz Bell Awards. Morrison has performed with such greats as Ray Charles, B.B. King and NEA Jazz Masters George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, and Wynton Marsalis. He has worked with legendary vocalists including Cab Calloway, Frank Sinatra and Whitney Houston. As an educator his affiliations have included Generations of Jazz, where he was the chairman running one of the world’s largest youth jazz events. 

For more information about the DCJF and its activities, visit dcjazzfest.org.

The 2024 DC JazzFest Lineup, to date, includes:

Samara Joy ● Jacob Collier ● Dianne Reeves ● Kenny Barron Voyage Trio ● Ron Carter Trio ● Stanley Clarke N4Ever ● Bill Frisell Four ● David Murray Quartet ● Galactic ● D-Nice ● Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band ● Carmen Lundy ● Terri Lyne Carrington “New Standards” ● Nicholas Payton Light Beings ● Carmen Lundy ● Brandee Younger ● Lakecia Benjamin ● James Morrison ● Cimafunk ● Sonny Stitt Centennial ● Emmet Cohen Trio featuring Houston Person ● Paolo Fresu (Italy) ● Michael Thomas Quintet ● Chuck Brown Band ● Kris Davis Diatom Ribbons ● Nasar Abadey and Supernova ● Joonas Haavisto (Finland) ● Corcoran Holt ● Billy Hart ● Confluencia (Chile) ● Next Legacy ● Reginald Cyntje ● BJ Simmons Quintet ● Monika Herzig’s Sheroes ● Amy K. Bormet Trio ● Stephen Arnold & Sea Change ● Joe Block Open Heart Trio ● New Jazz Underground ● JoGo Project ● Eliot Seppa ● Shannon Gunn’s Saffron Ensemble ● Ebban & Ephraim Dorsey Quintet ● DCJAZZPRIX 2024 Finals ● DC JazzFest Jam

For more information about the 2024 20th Anniversary DC JazzFest, including concert updates and ticketing information, visit www.dcjazzfest.org.

For any press inquiries or requests for information, please contact Lydia Liebman, DCJF publicist, at lydia@lydialiebmanpromotions.com.


Learn more about the DC Jazz Festival and all of our programs by visiting www.dcjazzfest.org.

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