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DC Jazz Festival Announces 2020 DCJazzPrix Finalists

Victoria Wasylak • News • August 10, 2020

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The DC Jazz Festival has announced the five bands selected by their panel of expert judges as the 2020 DCJazzPrix Finalists, all of whom will perform virtually on Sunday, September 27 at the DCJazzPrix Finals at Union Stage, 740 Water Street SW, as part of The 16th Annual JazzFest.

London-based saxophonist-composer Camilla George achieved her Masters in Jazz at Trinity College of Music. Since then she has worked with the acclaimed London young artist ensemble Tomorrow’s Warriors, and the New Civilisation Orchestra. In 2009 she joined Jazz Jamaica, and in 2014 she joined saxophonist Courtney Pine’s all-female ensemble Venus. Her debut recording was Isang on Ubuntu Records.

Based in Durham, North Carolina, DreamRoot includes Ittai Korman on bass, Theous Jones on drums, Serena Wiley on saxophone, Joe MacPhail on keyboards, and Lynn J. Grisett, Jr. on trumpet. DreamRoot specializes in their brand of political jazz and neo-soul. They incorporate African and European elements in their music. Their debut release is Phases (2020), from which they have released two singles: “Stay” and “Stridin.’”

DC-based saxophonist-composer-bandleader, and bassist Elijah Jamal Balbed leads The EJB Quartet. EJB, who attended Howard University, and University of the District of Columbia to study music, is an award-winning artist. In addition to his jazz experience, EJB joined go-go pioneer Chuck Brown’s band in 2011. Since Brown’s passing, EJB has continued to perform with the Chuck Brown Band, as well as develop his popular jazz-meets-go-go band the JoGo Project.

Reis-Demuth-Wiltgen is a cooperative trio, consisting of pianist Michel Reis, bassist Marc Demuth, and drummer Paul Wiltgen, three of Luxembourg’s most promising jazz musicians. They formed their trio in 1998 as high school students. Since then they’ve separately studied at top conservatories, including Berklee College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and the Koninklijk Conservatory in The Hague.  In 2018 they toured Europe with guest saxophonist, the acclaimed Joshua Redman. Their third album release is 2018’s Once in a Blue Moon.

A Connecticut native, Mike Casey is a saxophonist-composer who prefers the challenge of his saxophone-bass-drums trio. He later attended the Greater Hartford Academy for the Performing Arts in high school, earning a scholarship to the Jackie McLean Institute at the Hartt School of Music/University of Hartford. He was eventually selected for the prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead young artist intensive at the Kennedy Center. Casey has gone on to perform at prestigious venues, including Lincoln Center, Minton’s, Winter Jazzfest, and the Exit Zero Jazz Festival.

Each band will receive benefits inherently associated with a major jazz festival performance opportunity, and will compete at the DCJazzPrix Finals at the 16th Annual DC JazzFest at Union Stage at The Wharf. DC JazzFest audience response will be a vital factor in the Jury’s determination of the winner. Aside from gaining significant exposure, the winner will also be awarded a $15,000 cash prize and benefit from a yearlong association with the DC Jazz Festival to assist in their professional development, and business support, as well as a compensated main stage DC Jazz Festival 2021 performance, and a NYC showcase performance opportunity at Tribeca Performing Arts Center.

“The interaction of musicians in a band context is at the core of jazz. It is exciting to help ‘discover’ and promote the careers of emerging jazz bands committed,” said DC Jazz Festival Executive Director Sunny Sumter. “DCJazzPrix is unique in that it recognizes bands over soloists. It allows jazz artists to concentrate on band development on multiple fronts, increase performance opportunities, and sustain their collective output.”

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