Free Shaolin Jazz Film Series Premieres In June

Where can you hear jazz mixed with Wu-Tang?

Turns out, at Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C.

In June, Shaolin Jazz will bring their "CAN I KICK IT?" film series to Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C., incorporating various jazz songs with a capellas and vocal sampling from the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.

The artists as they present iconic martial arts films on the big screen while remixing each film live with an original hip-hop score.

While hip-hop and martial arts may seem strange bedfellows at first listen, or glance, Shaolin Jazz producer DJ 2-Tone Jones said historically, the two forms of media aren't that different.

"A lot of people who were fans of hip-hop in the '90s and late '80s heard cues taken from, and references to, martial arts films," Jones said. "So, it's kind of a way to bring those two worlds together."

Each night in June, Shaolin Jazz will screen a different film. They began with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" June 6, and will follow up with "The Matrix" on June 13 and the fantasy martial arts cult classic "The Last Dragon" on June 20. The screenings will end with John Carpenter's "Big Trouble in Little China," starring Kurt Russell, on June 27.

Shaolin Jazz chose the four classics to cater to the larger audience they hope to attract this month, Jones said. The group wanted a film lineup that would introduce people to the martial arts film genre by giving them "a different voice" through an original music score.

"Shaolin Jazz is a boutique creative group," said Gerald Watson, who conceived the ensemble. "It specializes in developing content and engagement that explores the intersection of hip-hop, jazz and martial arts."

The showings are a partnership between Shaolin Jazz and the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District, said Stephanie Williams, creative director of the D.C. Music Download magazine.

Before each Tuesday night showing, attendees can enjoy a special happy hour catered specifically for the event at Boss Shepherd's Restaurant and Whiskey Bar. Additionally, ping pong tables will be available for free on site at Freedom Plaza.

"I've been to a few of their screenings in the past and it is a totally interactive and unique experience," Williams said. "The crowd really gets into the movie and soundtrack, and the hip-hop element adds an interesting depth to each storyline."

The event is free for all ages, and will begin every Tuesday in June at 6 p.m., with films beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Contact Us