Bassist Kevin Pace, pianist Gene D’Andrea, and tenor saxophonist Bobby Muncy have for several years collaborated on a project to create and perform all original music in the jazz establishments of Washington, D.C. You may have seen them working at Utopia under Muncy’s leadership. But the partnership has always been a marriage of creative equals, and they have just made if official: Articles of incorporation have been filed in Virginia to create the DC Jazz Composers Collective.

“Our first priority is to bring free concerts to the public,” says Pace. “Each one will feature a composer from the D.C. area, and that composer will perform his or her originals and also fill out the band with their preferred musicians.” While Pace, Muncy, and D’Andrea are all prolific composers who know each other’s work well, their real ambition is to spotlight and work with other composers in the area. “We’ve got a long list of people we’re really hoping to work with,” says Pace.

In addition to their incorporation, the DCJCC is applying for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status—-a designation used for organizations operating for religious, charitable, or educational purposes. The collective is pursuing the educational end, which under 501(c)(3) rules includes “promotion of the arts.”

“We’re preserving jazz as the only American art form,” says Pace. “There’s a lot of it in this town, there’s not a whole lot that’s new. You go into the clubs and everybody’s playing ‘Bye Bye Blackbird.’ But the music won’t grow without new music being written. So yeah, it’s definitely an educational outreach.”

In the longer term, the collective hopes to take that educational outreach more in-depth: From concert production, they plan to extend to open interviews and roundtables with the composers; workshops and school events with music students; and, eventually, a small scholarship program. Meantime, the DCJCC is searching for a venue with which to partner for the performance program. Pace says that they are exploring possibilities outside the club scene: “We want to bring jazz to the community, and that’s a hard thing at a place with a bar,” he points out. “It’s no-go for underage kids, and frankly some people just don’t like to hang out in bars.” They are talking with a few theaters and some museums, but are still considering some clubs as well.

Pace, Muncy, and D’Andrea are also preparing to record a CD with a dozen or so of the musicians they want to work with, which they will use for promotional and fundraising purposes. They will be recording at XM Studios, with staff producer/engineer Mike Taylor, and hope to start in the last week of January.