- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2007

Yes, it’s named for a duke, but this year the city’s third annual jazz festival is paying homage to the man called Dizzy.

In honor of his 90th birthday, the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival is celebrating the life and times of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) during a weeklong showcase that began yesterday and continues through Sept. 17.

The unifying factor in recognizing both Mr. Gillespie (born John Birks Gillespie) and District-born music icon Duke Ellington is festival founder and executive director Charlie Fishman, who served as Mr. Gillespie’s personal manager and producer for more than two decades.

“Dizzy was a genius and an entertainer. But he often doesn’t get the same respect and acknowledgement that, say, Miles Davis does,” says Mr. Fishman. “And here’s the thing: Miles, [Thelonious] Monk and [John] Coltrane are all honored on postage stamps — and they were all proteges of Dizzy. They all played in his big band.”

While the Ellington Festival will this year pay homage to Mr. Gillespie, the tribute concept will continue, Mr. Fishman says. “Every year, we’d like to feature someone or something,” he says. “Next year, we’ll celebrate the jazz legacy of New Orleans.”

Meanwhile, at this year’s weeklong festival it’s business as usual when it comes to serving up an arsenal of star power. Some of the events are ticketed, but most are free.

Grammy-winning saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera returns in his role as the festival’s artistic director and also performs at tonight’s gala reception at the Inter-American Development Bank in Northwest.

For the first time, the festival will fan out across the District to host more than 100 events — known as Jazz in the Hood — in each of the city’s four quadrants. Along with concerts traditionally held at the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley in Georgetown, the historic Lincoln Theatre and the string of jazz clubs along the U Street corridor (including Twins Jazz, Bohemian Caverns, Club Bossa and Duke’s City) in Northwest, performances are also scheduled for the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St. NE), the Sitar Arts Center (1700 Kalorama Road NW Suite 101), Voice of America’s Cohen Auditorium (330 Independence Ave. SW) and two Southeast venues — the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill (101 Independence Ave. SE) and THEARC in Anacostia (1901 Mississippi Ave. SE).

Another festival first: Tomorrow evening’s CD release of the live recording by the Sol con Timba Octet at Bohemian Caverns — the first live recording at the District’s historic jazz venue since Ramsey Lewis’ “The in Crowd” more than 40 years ago. Sol con Timba performs two sets at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.

@Drophed 1st:Other festival highlights:

In the Footsteps of Dizzy (Friday, 8 p.m. Lincoln Theatre), a concert featuring many of Mr. Gillespie’s proteges, including pianist Danilo Perez, Claudio Roditi, David Sanchez and Steve Turre. Additionally, Roy Hargrove and his Grammy-winning band RH Factor will perform music that incorporates jazz with hip-hop.

Jazz ‘n’ Families Fun Day (hosted by new festival co-sponsor, Target) takes place Saturday from 1:30 to 7 p.m. at four locations — the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, the Atlas Theatre, the Sitar Arts Theatre and the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. Families can enjoy a host of activities, and performers (including 12-year-old piano prodigy Tony Madruga and the Princess Mhoon Cooper hip hop/jazz dance ensemble) vary by locations. All events are free.

National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Concert (Saturday, 8 p.m., Lincoln Theatre), an all-star performance showcase at which pianist Hank Jones and trumpeter Clark Terry will be honored with the DEJF Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jazz on the Mall: To Diz with Love (Sunday , noon until 7 p.m. Sylvan Theatre at the Mall), a free, daylong all-star jazz extravaganza highlighting Mr. Gillespie’s exploration of Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and African music. The concert also will reunite nine of the 12 artists who played in the Grammy Award-winning United Nation Orchestra founded and led by Mr. Gillespie.

The complete festival lineup along with venue locations is available at www.dejazzfest.org.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS at the third annual Duke Ellington Jazz Festival include:

Vocalist Nnenna Freelon; trombonists Slide Hampton and Steve Turre; trumpeters Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove, saxophonists Jimmy Heath, James Moody, David Sanchez and Kenny Garrett; pianists Hank Jones, Billy Taylor and Eddie Palmieri; vocalist Flora Purim with percussionist Airto Moreira; vocalist Roberta Gambarini; and composer David Baker, professor and chairman of the jazz department at Indiana University.

Also taking the stage: The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band; bassists Sibusiso Victor Masondo and George Mraz; pianist Danilo Perez; trumpeter Claudio Roditi, the United Nation Orchestra; drummer Naser Abadey; Bossa Ensemble; the music ensemble Chejere; saxophonist Anat Cohen; drummer Horacio Hernandez; trumpeter Sean Jones; trumpeter and bandleader Thad Wilson; multi-instrumentalist Dana Leong; the Luis Faife Quartet; trumpeter, trombonist and composer Michael Philip Mossman; trumpeter Valery Ponomarev; percussionist Pernell Saturino; the Portland Taiko Percussion Ensemble; the Princess Mhoon Cooper Dance Ensemble; the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra; vocalists Somi and Sharon Clark; Sonex; the ensemble Soul con Timba; vocalist Toto la Momposina; Will Smith & the W.E.S. Group Hip Hop/Jazz Project, Davey Yarborough & the New Washingtonians; pianist-arranger Milcho Leviev; saxophonist Antonio Hart; Tony Madruga, Vaughn Nark.

The complete festival lineup, including show imes and a list of venues, is available online at dejazzfest.org.

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