Last evening, Monday, April 29, was a great night of youthful jazz at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) as the school presented its 27th annual Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival. The event featured performances by the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, the University of Maryland jazz band, and concluded with a rousing set by the UDC Big Band under the skilled direction of soulful DC pianist Allyn Johnson. The festival is named after Calvin Jones, the musician-professor who founded the UDC jazz studies program, which is also closely affiliated with the excellent Felix Grant Jazz Archives, named after one of DC’s most historic jazz radio show hosts, the late Felix Grant.
In between the UMD and UDC band performances I was humbled to receive a 2013 Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) Jazz Hero Award for Washington, DC. It was indeed a lovely experience for which I am eternally grateful. On hand to present the award were my fellow jazz journalist Bill Brower (who frequently contributed to DownBeat under the byline W.A. Brower), and longtime congressional aide – and driving force behind the annual Congressional Black Caucus Jazz Day, Cedric Hendricks; also pictured in these photos is Cheryl Hawkins of UDC Media, who had previously hosted Randy Weston and me on her television program.