At the Sculpture Garden, jazz blooms


Photo courtesy of Erin Harper

Erin Harper

There’s nothing more relaxing than going home after a long day at school, kicking up your feet, and plugging in your headphones to listen to your favorite singer or band. While jazz may not be everyone’s favorite genre of music, I find myself getting lost in the smooth melody of the saxophone, the bellowing the roar of the trumpet, and the raspy edge of the human voice. Naturally, I was elated when I found out about “Jazz in the Garden,” a weekly jazz concert held in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden.

Jazz bands perform on the garden’s grounds for free every Friday between May 18 to August 24 from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Bands from all over the country come to perform in DC. From hip-hop and go-go to ethno-funk and pan-Caribbean salsa, each band has its own unique sound that caters to the crowd. The bands have some pretty neat names too–I think the “Funky Dawgz Brass Band” would have to be my favorite name so far.

This past Friday, I went to see Speakers of the House, a DMV-based band whose style is a mix between funk and boogaloo, a genre of Latin music and dance. The cover band takes classics such as “Space Oddity” by David Bowie and “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and add their own twist on the original beat and vocals.

The first song I heard Speakers of the House perform was “Come Together” by the Beatles, and I have to say, I prefer the original. The original song has hints of bass in the background that really tie the entire song together. The Speakers of the House version was mixed with piano (which I personally thought to be unnecessary) and was missing that signature bass. Another song played was “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra. While I like this portrayal of the song better than “Come Together,” the band sped up the classic beat of the song. I am a firm believer in not fixing something that isn’t broken, so I believe the band should’ve kept the original beat of the song. Overall, their music style was not for me.

One thing I liked about “Jazz in the Garden” was the amount of food options that were available for the audience. Although the line was long due to the influx of people, the surrounding area of the Gardens is full of food trucks offering many other inexpensive options.

I don’t think I’ll be going back to “Jazz in the Garden,” but that doesn’t mean I’m not encouraging others to attend the festival. As mentioned previously, the band changes every week so throughout the summer you get a wide variety of musical styles. If listening to jazz is your thing and you’d like to be surrounded by people with the same mindset, then “Jazz in the Garden” is definitely for you.