It's unfortunate that Washington DC's rich history of musical commitment is
overshadowed by its political exterior and yet, interestingly enough, jazz music
and fanfare has strong ties with political movement. From its inception, jazz
has openly embraced the contributions of all people and their clubs were among
the first public venues to chip at the boundaries drawn by early segregation
laws. In Washington, The Howard Theater, a predominately African-American club
featured a unique blend of Italian Renaissance and Spanish-Baroque architecture.
The George Washington University reports that "approximately 25% of the audience
was white" despite segregation laws and racial hostilities prevalent at
"It was the magnitude of the stars that stole the show. Seeing such great
acts was the most important thing, and consequently all extraneous problems
and conflicts were forgotten in the pleasure of the moment". In addition
to presidents and senators, DC has also seen its share of musical royalty. Legacies
of jazz dukes and ladies haunt Washington's streets.
For those who feel the need to question, the jazz scene in Washington DC is
still very much alive and swinging. Regardless of one's price range, the District's
inhabitants not only have the opportunity to spectate but also participate in
amazing jazz performances on any given night.
DC is home to some of jazz's most cherished celebrities including Pearl Bailey,
Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Taylor, and Duke Ellington. Anyone in jazz
history worth mentioning has come through the Nation's capital.
DC continues to be a rite-of-passage for Jazz's younger generations like Wynton
Marsalis, Diana Krall, Joshua Redman, Jane Monheit, Russell Gunn and Roy Hargrove.
The jazz scene in northwest DC's historic U Street neighborhood continues to
flourish as it did in 1930 despite the closing of the famous Howard Theater
("The Howard"). Once coined "The Black Broadway" for its plethora of jazz legends,
U Street is seasoned with jazz clubs like Bohemian
Utopia, Euphoria and HR-57.
Even U Street restaurants like The
Islander (a delicious Caribbean bistro) devote brunches and entire nights
Likewise, the U street area's more "sophisticated" Georgetown cousin remains
in touch with its jazz roots, offering such legendary venues as Blues
Alley and The
Kennedy Center. Among Georgetown's rows of pseudo-European eateries,
Café La Ruche and Fino
also feature jazz nights in addition to mouth-watering cuisines.
Also, the Adams Morgan neighborhood is home to such jazz clubs and restaurants
as Madams Organ,
and Columbia Station. From Colonel
in northeast DC to the Zanzibar
in southwest, enthusiasts and curiosity goers alike can get their jazz fix in
every quadrant of Washington.
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