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A Jazz Piano Christmas: 2021

Pianist Patrice Rushen performs at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C..
Jati Lindsay
Courtesy of the Kennedy Center
Pianist Patrice Rushen performs at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C..

As the world gingerly steps toward a new reality, traditions can be so important. A Jazz Piano Christmas is one that I cherish every year. This year the full audience was back for holiday music in the Terrace Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., with vaccination cards in hand.

There was an air of excitement in the theater and I think everyone was happy to be in the same room, listening to live music together again. It was a joyous evening filled with jazz for the holidays. The swing of the show had a real West Coast feel; all three pianists have roots in California.

Eric Reed brought a mix of reverence and celebration, and Gerald Clayton leaned into The Nutcracker and Charlie Brown classics. Patrice Rushen played heartwarming renditions of some of my favorites, including an arrangement of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas," and even found the time to make a TikTok with the Kennedy team!

As we make our way towards an uncertain future, we hope that the magic of these performances can bring a bit of light and good cheer into your homes. Happy holidays and merry Christmas.


Eric Reed

  • "Angels in the Snow"
  • "Christmas is Coming"
  • "Go Tell It On The Mountain"
  • Gerald Clayton

  • "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy"
  • "Christmas Time Is Here"
  • "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
  • Patrice Rushen

  • "What Child Is This" (Greensleeves)
  • "Caroling, Caroling"
  • "This Christmas"
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    Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.