Twins Jazz

Pandemic Puts DC Jazz Club Out of Business

Twins Jazz
NBCWashington

After more than three decades, the final set has been played at a D.C. jazz club.

The owners of Twins Jazz on U Street NW said it's because of the economic conditions brought on by COVID-19.

“Anybody who come in there is like a family to us,” co-owner Kelly Tesfaye said.

She and her twin sister, Maze Tesfaye, started their jazz club by coincidence.

They opened a restaurant in Brightwood not knowing it used to be a music venue. 

One day, a musician walked in and asked if he could bring back jazz.

“We don’t know anything about jazz and we ask him what is jazz?” Kelly Tesfaye said.

They spent the next 33 years finding out. They held regular jam sessions open to anyone who wanted to play. It didn’t take long for word to spread.

“Word of mouth,” Maze Tesfaye said. “Everybody, ‘Woo woo, there’s a little jazz at the corner of Colorado Avenue NW.”

Through the years, that little corner drew big crowds and big names, like the Johnny O’Neal Trio.

The club later moved from Brightwood to U Street, where it’s been for almost two decades. 

“All of our venues are just about gone,” D.C. music historian Rev. Sandra Butler-Truesdale said.

At its heyday, U Street had about 15 spots for live jazz, she said. COVID-19 has shuttered almost all the ones left.

“It makes me very sad because it’s just taken away so much of the music history in Washington, D.C.,” Butler-Truesdale said.

Twins Jazz may be closed, but after 33 years, the family said it’s not the finale.

“We are going to keep this thing going in a new format, and we’re excited about what that looks like,” said Layla Nielsen, Kelly Tesfaye’s daughter.

The family hopes to put out more details by the holidays.

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