24th Annual DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival

June 18th to June 23rd

The 24th Annual DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival opened Monday evening, June 18th to a very appreciative audience. This free, week-long, outdoor music festival is held in Rodney Square in the heart of downtown Wilmington, Delaware

Monday, June 18th - Legendary jazz composer, pianist Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express. Alexander has been performing for 50 year. He is well known for his charismatic showmanship blending and mixing different genres into an incredible musical package infusing Jamaican rhythmus with Jazz. Tunes included a swinging reconstruction of the R&B hit “Hi Heel Sneakers”, and Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry". Alexander dazzling piano work shifted from reggae, then midway into a steamy Latin-jazz interlude and then back again.

The second performance was an “All-Star Tribute to Lionel Hampton” featuring Jason Marsalis, Candido, Robin Eubanks, Kevin Mahogany and Russell Gunn. Candido, who is 91 years old, brought the audience to their feet with his enthusiastic conga rhythms. Mahogany sang two solos, “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool and Sweet Georgia Brown’.

Tuesday, June 19th - Trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Claudio Roditi, integrating Jazz with Brazilian rhythms during his performance. While the legendary jazz composer, pianist Randy Weston richly embraced the rhythmic heritage of Africa, into his musical presentation.

Wednesday, June 20th – Saxophonist and bandleader Steve Wilson assembled a brilliant ensemble of jazz and chamber orchestra musicians for a beautifully arranged and performed tribute to Charlie Parker’ entitled “Bird with Strings”. Bassist, composer, Christian McBride assembled an all star big band performing a repertoire of jazz standards and original compositions. Selections included “Shake and Blake”, “I should Care” and “Brother Mister” a tribute to James Brown. Melissa Walker was featured on “When I Fall in Love Again”.

Thursday, June 21st – Two of Wilmington’s own performed this evening. Trumpeter Winston Byrd and his Quintet brought the audience to their feet with a blend of funky jazz fusion selections. The legendary saxophonist and two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts and his Quintet proved that he is still one of the most versatile jazz musicians on the music scene.

Saturday, June 23rd - The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble performed the music of Miles Davis covering his significant and exciting periods of music innovation. From the hard bop of "Milestones", to the introspective "Blue In Green", to the pulsating beat of "Tutu", Arpeggio, brought their special sound and passion to this performance. Special guest, Wilmington's own Tony Smith on trumpet. Keyboardist-composer, Hiromi “The Trio Project” showed offered lots of creative energy in her compositions.

Three-time Grammy award winning singer-songwriter and Tony Award winning stage actress Dee Dee Bridgwater closed out the festival with her fiery straight-ahead jazz vocal style. Songs included “Lady Sings the Blues and “Lover Man”.

Where else can you enjoy six days of FREE jazz music on the East Coast? The annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival is always a wonderful long celebration of jazz, featuring an exciting and entertaining list of national, regional, and local performers.

For more photos from the festival, visit Ben Johnson's Gallery

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Community Authors

Karen Brundage-Johnson, PhD.