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2021 DC JazzFest Will Feature Tribute to the Legendary Andrew White

Christian Wissmuller • News • August 11, 2021

DC Jazz Festival will pay homage to the late DC and global jazz legend Andrew White through a tribute concert that will take place during the 2021 DC JazzFest. The concert will occur at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on Thursday, September 2nd, and features a star-studded lineup of performers including the Grammy-nominated pianist and Blackbyrds founding member Kevin Toney, bassist Steve Novosel, drummer Keith Killgo, saxophonist Antonio Parker, and special guest saxophonist Marcus Strickland.

There are two ticket options for the event, a $15 admission-only ticket or a $43 concert/dinner option which will include a meal prepared by chef Michael DuBose. Dinner tickets gives guests the choice of four different meal optionsaccommodating any dietary restrictions. Both ticket options are now available for purchase on the brand-new DC Jazz Festival website.

A true multi-instrumentalist, Andrew White, is most known for his virtuosic ability on the alto saxophone and his extensive published transcriptions of John Coltrane’s solos. Born in Washington DC in 1942, he spent his early years in Nashville, Tennessee, where his father was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a civil rights activist. White eventually returned to DC in 1960 to study at Howard University. It was during this time that he began to leave his indelible mark on the history of jazz in The District. He co-founded the JFK Quintet, which soon took up a weekly Monday night residency at the Bohemian Caverns, the city’s historic jazz club. White’s performances during this period drew many traveling jazz artists to the venue, including John Coltrane and his bandmate Eric Dolphy, to witness White’s prodigious skills. White’s deep connection with Coltrane led him to later transcribe over 800 of Coltrane’s saxophone solos, and to publish “The Trane ‘n Me”, a book which The New York Times described as “a well-regarded musicological treatise” on Coltrane’s work.

After graduating from Howard with a major in music theory, Andrew White attended the Paris Conservatory for a year and lived in New York for a period.  He ultimately returned to DC in the early 1970s to marry Jacelyn Uhl. A true multi-instrumentalist, White toured on bass guitar with such major pop acts as The Fifth Dimension, and Stevie Wonder, with whom he can be spotted making major contributions in the much-acclaimed 2021 film Summer of Soul. Additionally, he performed orchestrally, and guested with the acclaimed fusion pioneers Weather Report.

White’s relationship with Ms. Uhl transcended their marriage as she became Andrew’s business partner once he founded Andrew’s Musical Enterprises Incorporated. White founded the record label and publishing house because he believed the music industry’s desire to “pigeonhole” artists would constrain his boundless creative abilities. True to his Washington DC roots, White ran his label and publishing house from his home in the Michigan Park neighborhood of Northeast Washington DC. Over a 49-year period, White released over 40 of his own critically acclaimed LPs on the label – many of them with Kevin Toney, Keith Killgo, and Steve Novosel as his rhythm section – and published over 1,000 transcriptions of other artists, including most notably John Coltrane’s works.  Despite his passing in November of last year, White’s importance to DC as a jazz city remains vivid.

The Westminster Presbyterian Church in many ways is the perfect venue at which to honor White’s contribution to jazz in our nation’s capital. Like White, Westminster is a place of undeniable impact on jazz in Washington DC. In January, the church celebrated its 20th anniversary of hosting weekly Friday night jazz concerts. The concerts began as a way of building community between the church’s predominantly white congregation, and the neighborhood’s majority-Black population. The venue has consistently kept ticket prices low, and talent level high, so that programming may be accessible to as many in the community as possible. The church’s attitude towards jazz reflects the same passion for the genre which propelled White to become one of the most important artists in Washington DC’s jazz history.

DCJF looks forward to honoring White and his monumental contributions to the advancement of jazz in DC on Thursday, September 2nd, as part of the 17thAnnual DC JazzFest. Tickets are now available for purchase at dcjazzfest.org/dcjazzfest.

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About DC Jazz Festival:
With dozens of performances in venues across the city, the annual DC JazzFest is one of the largest music festivals in the country. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the DC Jazz Festival celebrates America’s unique original art form during this international event that attracts jazz lovers from around the world to the nation’s capital. The DCJF also presents year-round programs with performances featuring local, nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.  The mission of the DC Jazz Festival is to present internationally renowned and emerging artists in celebration of jazz, unify diverse communities and enable connections between artists and audiences, advance jazz and music education, provide performance opportunities for DC-based musicians, and highlight DC as a major and vibrant center for jazz. The 2021 DC JazzFest will take place September 1-5. For more information about the DCJF and its activities, visit dcjazzfest.org.
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