The Beat Goes On in D.C.
Where to hear jazz in D.C., from U Street to Georgetown.
Before New York’s Harlem Renaissance, D.C.’s U Street Corridor was home to the largest urban African-American community in the country. Known as “Black Broadway” from the 1920s to 1940s, the neighbourhood boasted some of the most notable jazz venues in the country and launched the careers of many of the genre’s most famous legends of the 20th century, including local residents Duke Ellington, Shirley Horn and Roberta Flack.
The city’s illustrious jazz scene is still thriving, and many of the most historic venues along the U Street Corridor—such as the Lincoln Theatre—that once hosted greats such as Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong—are still packing in crowds. Thanks to an elegant renovation, the Corridor’s oldest jazz club, the 106-year-old Howard Theatre, recently reopened its doors to the public after 32 years and remains one of the hottest tickets in the city.
While the U Street neighborhood is home to the greatest cluster of jazz venues in the city, the scene has spilled throughout the capital’s four quadrants. Fans of improv jam sessions should head to Takoma Station, where some of the best up-and-coming young performers in the region join forces each Tuesday night. Nestled amid Georgetown’s atmospheric cobblestone streets, the 50-year-old Blues Alley has been dubbed “the nation’s finest jazz and supper club” by the New York Times and is frequently graced by prominent acts such as virtuoso Nasar Abadey, a drummer/composer/bandleader and the city’s reigning Jazz Artist of the Year.