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You once knew it as the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival. For all of its five years, in fact. No more.
Festival boss Charlie Fishman reports that there’s been a dispute with the Ellington family over the rights to use the name of District jazz’s favorite son. Henceforth, then, it shall be known as the DC Jazz Festival, and shall be accorded all rights and privileges commensurate with that name.
It is notable, however, that festivals with the names of famous musicians attached have tended to be second-tier festivals, held in fifth-tier cities. Who, after all, could forget the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho; the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, Delaware; or the headline-grabbing Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival in bustling Davenport, Iowa?
By contrast, the big-time fests —- Newport Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Portland Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival —- are all named after the cities that host them.
So let’s call this name change a promotion, shall we?