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Duke Ellington Jazz Festival Continues to Hit High Note with DC Residents, Tourists


Tourist season has peaked in Washington, DC, but as the leaves began falling and temperatures started to drop, some visitors decided to stay and enjoy the peace and quiet of autumn in the Nation's Capital. As VOA's Doug Levine reports, those who weren't in a hurry to leave were treated to an annual event that continues to hit a high note with both residents and out-of-towners, the 4th Annual Duke Ellington Jazz Festival October 1-7.

Duke Ellington's legacy as a world-class band leader, composer and pianist who elevated jazz to new heights, along with the city he called home for his first 23 years, were the earmarks of the festival named in his honor.

Jazz, blues, Latin rhythms, hip-hop and world music was performed in 47 different venues throughout the city over seven days and nights. There were master classes, student performances, a "Jazz and Families Fun Day," and an all-star outdoor concert billed as "Jazz on the National Mall."

One of the week's busiest performers was cellist, trombonist and band leader Dana Leong, who marked his return to the festival by performing in three concerts and teaching a master class.

"I think it's a wonderful thing that the festival is growing exponentially every year," Leong said, "because we find as artists when we visit, specifically Washington, D.C., we find nothing but very intelligent, well-informed audiences that show a lot of appreciation for all different types of music and artists from all different walks of life.

"I personally have my project which is a live blend of hip-hop and jazz," he added, "and people have seen me do my thing but they have also seen me play a hybrid blend of classical and jazz and Latin jazz with Paquito D'Rivera. And all the same, you find people are just very well informed. They are very rich in culture and very appreciative. I just loving coming to D.C. It's one of my favorite places."

The Duke Ellington Jazz Festival came to a fitting conclusion with a concert at the Voice of America. The festival's Artistic Advisor, saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, along with Dana Leong and seven other band members, paid tribute to the music of the Americas.

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