Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis (Courtesy of wyntonmarsalis.com)

The holidays will be brighter when Strathmore welcomes back the Wynton Marsalis-led Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) this weekend.

The group’s “Big Band Holidays” tour, with guest vocalists Vuyo Sotashe and Veronica Swift, will play two shows at the Strathmore in North Bethesda on Dec. 14-15. The evening of festive music will blend classical, jazz, and holiday favorites, featuring 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players.

Marsalis, a nine-time Grammy Award winner and Pulitzer Prize awardee, is co-founder, managing and artistic director of JLCO. He also has a special connection to the D.C. area as an adviser to the Washington Jazz Arts Institute, which was founded in 1998 by D.C. native Davey Yarborough, a saxophonist, flutist and composter, and his wife Esther Williams, a popular vocalist among District jazz fans.

Yarborough, who recently retired from the District’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts where he headed the jazz studies program, received a “CNN Heroes” honor in 2008 due to a nomination from Marsalis. Earlier this year, Marsalis came to Washington to perform a concert to benefit for Yarborough’s institute.

“Jazz helps younger kids, especially, to connect with their innermost feelings and learn that [there’s] nothing wrong with being real,” Marsalis said of his work with Yarborough, whom he has known since the 1980s.

The orchestra’s annual December concert has become a tradition among jazz lovers and families. When JLCO comes to Strathmore, audiences can expect to hear soulful big-band arrangements of classic songs both sacred and secular.

Marsalis likes to remind people why holiday music will always matter.

“I like that it is cross-generational,” Marsalis said in an interview a few years ago. “I always want to put people in the spirit and I want people to leave feeling that we are together.”

For ticket information, go to strathmore.org.

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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