If you’re looking for a way to avoid Lau on the first true weekend back, you’ll find one just across the river. The Rosslyn Jazz Festival is this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Gateway Park. It’s free and open to the public—a modern-day highway robbery, considering the incredible line-ups the festival is known for assembling.
This year’s festival is no exception. While the festival will only bring in four bands, each will play for an hour and a half.
Opening the festival is the Kenny Rittenhouse septet. Rittenhouse is a fixture of the D.C. jazz scene, playing regularly at Bohemian Caverns and Blues Alley. With Rittenhouse, expect a mix of classic bop numbers as well as some original material—his “New York Suites” are masterfully crafted new jazz numbers. The septet should provide a great traditional start-off to the festival.
Following Rittenhouse, the jazz fest is looking to raise you up as Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens bring the spirit straight from the heart of Brooklyn. The Queens combine hard-hitting blues and gospel to make a biting yet uplifting brand of hard gospel mixed with the funky sounds of Stax-era soul. Church on Saturday? Maybe. But these Gospel greats will be sure to heighten the fest’s energy.
Following Shelton, The Soul Rebels Brass Band will land their funky, hip-hopping brand of New Orleans brass band music in the middle of Rosslyn. These boys have played with everyone from Metallica and Green Day to Bootsy Collins and The Roots. If you only go to one artist at the festival, see the Soul Rebels. Their style crosses multiple music tastes, and they’ll play their own material as well as covers from Metallica to Kanye.
The show will close on an international note with Olé Coltrane, the project of legendary percussionist Poncho Sanchez. Sanchez and the group will perform their version of John Coltrane’s renowned 1962 album Olé Coltrane. This is jazz at some of its most international, as Coltrane draws on the music of Islamic Spain as the central influence. Legends of all sorts will come to life at this performance.
Jazz in the park is a timeless idea, and Rosslyn’s Jazz Festival is part of that canon. Whether you’re looking for great music, or just a reason to get out of the bubble, grab a blanket and head down to Gateway Park this Saturday for an afternoon of jazz.
- Originally published in The Georgetown Voice on 09/05/14