Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art 2022

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The National Gallery of Art’s Jazz in the Garden concert series was canceled in 2020 and held only one of its scheduled concerts in 2021. But it is making a comeback in the museum’s sculpture garden on 20 May and will take place on Friday evenings until July 22. However, if you’ve spent years relaxing around the fountain with friends and a pitcher of sangria, know that attending a concert will be a little different than it was in pre-pandemic years. Here’s a guide to what you need to know.

1. You need to book tickets. Free tickets will be available on the gallery’s website at noon one week before the scheduled concert. For example, if you want to see jazz violinist Nataly Merezhuk on opening night, you need to tune in by noon on May 13.

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2. Up to 5,000 tickets are available for each show. While that’s half the gallery’s claimed pre-pandemic average crowd size, it’s still higher than what you’ll find at most DC concert venues. Plus, while doors open at 5 p.m. and concerts start at 6 p.m., ticket holders can show up at any time during the event. Organizers expect the crowd to fluctuate throughout the evening as people come and go, so it shouldn’t feel as crowded as in previous years – but if you have a favorite spot in the grass near Roy Lichtenstein’s “House I” or around the fountain, you might want to get there early.

3. There is no waiting list or queue. You might as well decide spontaneously to take advantage of the good weather on a Friday evening.

4. It’s not just jazz in this garden. On the program, Martha Redbone, who fuses blues and Native American music (May 27); Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Daniel Ho (June 10); Bombay Rickey’s mix of Latin, Bollywood and swing psychedelia (June 17); and bluegrass band Sideline (July 22). “I think the name goes beyond the music itself and sets the stage for a lived experience for people,” says Damon Reaves, education manager at the gallery. “It gives us an opportunity to shine a light on jazz, and there’s definitely a focus in that space. But we also allow ourselves to branch out into some of these connected roots and forms, as well as other styles of music. Yet jazz remains at the heart of it all, with a concert on July 1 by the Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet one of the highlights of the entire series.

5. It will be easier to watch the band. Regulars will notice that the setup is being reconfigured, with the stage turned 180 degrees to face the fountain instead of the crowd sitting outside the cafe. Organizers say this means more people will be able to see the performers. Speaking of coffee, pop-up bars will return throughout the garden to help reduce queues.

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6. Concerts can always be canceled due to heat advisories and threats of thunderstorms. Reaves says that by moving the end of the series to July instead of stretching into August, organizers hope to have fewer weather-related cancellations. “One thing we did this time around was go back through the concert history, look at the schedule and see when we tended to see most of our weather cancellations, whether it was due to rain or excessive heat,” he says. By ending before the August heatwaves, he says, “hopefully it will get us into that nice climate and hopefully not have to deal with any cancellations.”

From May 20 to July 22. Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. nga.gov. Free. The full program is below:

Nataly Merezhuk, jazz violin

Registration opens May 13 at noon

Registration opens May 20 at noon

Pedrito Martinez, Afro-Cuban

Registration opens on May 27 at noon

Daniel Ho, new Hawaiian and contemporary instrument

Registration opens June 3 at noon

Bombay Rickey, global psychedelia

Registration opens on June 10 at noon

Caique Vidal & Batuque, Afro-Brazilian

Registration opens on June 17 at noon

Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet, funky fun

Registration opens on June 24 at noon

Althea Rene, soul-jazz flute

Registration opens July 1 at noon

Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra, jazz

Registration opens on July 8 at noon

Registration opens July 15 at noon


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