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Clifford Brown Jazz Fest returns June 15-18 featuring Stanley Clarke

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines

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The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Rodney Square


The 35th rendition of the largest free jazz festival on the East Coast returns to Wilmington June 15-18 with the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival featuring Stanley Clark among its line-up.

New this year: The festival will be cohosted by Clifford Brown Jr.

The festival is named for trumpeter and Wilmington native resident Clifford Brown, known as “Brownie.” He died in 1956 at the age of 25 returning from a show. Even though he only had a few years of recordings, many jazz trumpeters still praise his work and his “Joy Spring” and “Daahoud,” have become jazz standards.

The guest artists also will include Chucho Valdés & Paquito d’RiveraStokleyRegina Carter, and the Rebirth Brass Band.

Mainstage performances will take place Wednesday through Friday, starting at 5 p.m., and Saturday starting at noon, with Regina Carter performing at 1 p.m. that day. For a full festival line-up, go to cliffordbrownjazzfest.org.

The artists and festival activities are meant to highlight the diverse textures of Jazz, said Tina Betz, director of cultural affairs for the city.

The city and the jazz fest’s sponsors are hoping for a great turnout.

“Last year’s attendance was huge and, on the heels of the pandemic, beyond expectations,” Betz said. “Weather was a cooperating partner last year and has been invited back to join us as we celebrate the 35th.”

Pre-festival events will begin on Sunday, June 12, at 4 p.m. with the Best of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts featuring  Choral Director Derrick Thompson and Big Band Director Gerald Chavis.  The “pay as you wish” concert will be presented at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, 819 Shipley St.

On Monday, June 13 there will be a screening of Don Glanden’s film “Brownie Speaks: A Video Documentary: The Life, Music, and Legacy of Clifford Brown” at Theatre N, 1007 North Orange St. The film will begin at 6 p.m. and then a panel discussion will feature Clifford Brown Jr. and members of the Brown family. Register in advance here.

Seating for the concert and the documentary will be offered first to those who pre-registered.

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Activities will continue on Tuesday, June 14, with a Jazz Art Exhibit and Live Music Reception hosted by the Wilmington Library, 10 East 10th Street, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The concerts in Rodney Park in downtown Wilmington are free for all. All ages are welcome. Guests should bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

The square will be lined with food trucks and vendors throughout the festival week and one will feature this year’s festival logo T-shirt, designed by Jarret Harris (a.k.a. PosixArt).

Track any festival updates on the festival website and on the Facebook page @Cliffordbrownjazzfest.

While the festival is free, donations to Cityfest Inc., a 501c3 non-profit, are encouraged. Make them at www.cityfestwilm.com or via a check payable to Cityfest, Inc., 800 North French St. Wilmington, DE 19801. Please put them to the attention of Tina Betz, president.

The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival is presented by Cityfest Inc. and the City of Wilmington with generous support from WRTI 90.1 FM, The Kenny Family Foundation, Delmarva Power, An Exelon Company, Gerald Chavis Music, The Christina Cultural Arts Center, Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Westin, Hyatt Place, Sheraton Suites, The Doubletree, Hotel duPont, Le Cavalier, Nomad Bar, Wilmington Public Library, The Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew, Downtown Visions and Theatre N

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