7th annual Jazz & Freedom Festival in Washington 22/02/26

Even before the #DontMuteDC movement sprang up in 2019, music and activism had long gone hand-in-hand in Washington, D.C. You could say that together they represent the full spectrum of the freedom struggle: joys, frustrations and the work still to be done. Today, with the coronavirus in retreat and a mayoral campaign just getting underway, we’re stepping back into the world slowly and vigilantly. It’s time to address the question of what we want to bring back to normal, and what needs to be fundamentally changed.

In that spirit, the 7th annual Jazz & Freedom Festival will bring together some of the finest musicians in D.C. (and beyond) with community activists confronting racial injustice and anti-Black violence.

The festival will feature five sets of live music and poetry, as well as a panel discussion moderated by Harriet’s Wildest Dreams cofounder Qiana Johnson, featuring Ty Hobson Powell of Concerned Citizens DC, Jessica Teachey of The MusicianShip, Beth Yirga of the Palm Collective and musician Onrae Lateel.

Luke Stewart  - Photo Schindelbeck
Luke Stewart | photo: schindelbeck

The centerpiece of the festival, of course, is the music. And the incredible lineup that the JAFF’s creative team — led by CapitalBop cofounder Luke Stewart, Shannon Gunn and Kelsye Adams — has assembled is stacked with brilliant talent from start to finish.

The acclaimed steel pan virtuoso and composer Victor Provost will play a headlining set with his band. A pair of incredible duos will also perform: bassist Corcoran Holt with percussionist/poet Jabari Exum, and Jupiter Blue (featuring Tara Middleton and DM Hotep, both members of the Sun Ra Arkestra).

Trombonist and co-organizer Shannon Gunn will lead the Jazz & Freedom Ensemble, a D.C. supergroup with a rotating lineup that anchors every JAFF. And to close out the evening, the Collect!v Crew — a DMV musicians’ collective anchored by bassist Dennis Turner and drummer Biscuit Bynum — will close out the night, bringing its groove-based take on contemporary Black music back to the Eaton, where it has performed often over the past few years.