Hargrove, a longtime supporter of the DC Jazz Festival, entertained a sold-out crowd during the Festival’s Prelude Kick-off Concert. Joined on stage by saxophonist Justin Robinson, pianist Sullivan Fortner, drummer Quincy Phillips, and bassist Ameen Saleem, Hargrove came ready to play. The jazz luminary who made it ok for the musicians of his and younger generations to include elements of r&b and hip hop into their work had something for everyone as he infused components of blues, funk, soul, and straight-ahead jazz into his performance. He didn’t waste time introducing songs from the bandstand; he weaved through the music precisely, stepping up for solos when necessary and standing back and taking it all in whenever the music called for others to do the same.
The multi-award winner has dedicated more than twenty years to the artform and is probably immersed enough mentally that he could play this music (skillfully) in his sleep. Though he sometimes cuts the detached figure, Hargrove has managed to use his music to establish enough of a connection with audiences (and many of his colleagues for that matter) to have earned their unconditional support. That was not lost on Hargrove. He took a few minutes toward the end of his set to offer the packed house a heartfelt thanks for their continued support, and they cheered wildly in response to let him know that they were indeed there.
Afterwards, he ended the night the way he had done so many times before: with a spirited performance of Sam Cooke’s “Bring it On Home to Me.” It was an awesome way for the DC Jazz Festival to open its tenth anniversary.
With over 125 performances scheduled in and around the metro DC area, the DC Jazz Festival has become one of the fastest growing jazz festivals in the country. Scheduled to take place June 24-29, 2014, artists such as Snarky Puppy, Gregory Porter, Cyrus Chestnut, Tia Fuller and Helen Sung, Etienne Charles and Rudresh Mahanthappa, Paquito D’Rivera, Akua Allrich, Frederic Yonnet, Orrin Evans with Lafayette Gilchrist & Allyn Johnson, Victor Provost, the Rebirth Brass Band, the Brass-A-Holics, Trombone Shorty, Sharon Clark, Marc Cary, Houston Person, and the Dizzy Gillespie Afro Cuban Experience are just a few of the long list of talent scheduled to perform as part of this year’s festival.
For more information about this year’s festival, go to www.dcjazzfest.org.