Wilmington's Clifford Brown Jazz Festival Opens Tonight in Rodney Square
The largest free jazz festival on the East Coast kicks off as the City celebrates African-American Music Appreciation Month and Juneteenth
Mayor Mike Purzycki and City Cultural Affairs Director Tina Betz remind jazz lovers that the FREE Clifford Brown Jazz Festival main stage concerts begin tonight, Wednesday, June 19 in Rodney Square. The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival—Wilmington’s premier music event and the largest free jazz festival on the East Coast—is celebrating its 31st year in 2019. The Rodney Square concerts will continue through Saturday, June 22, with performances starting at 5:30 p.m. on the weekdays and at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The schedule of performers for the 2019 jazz festival is included at the end of this news release, and is available at www.cliffordbrownjazzfest.org along with artist bios. Visit the festival Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cliffordbrownjazzfest/
“The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival is well known across the United States and around the world,” said Mayor Purzycki. “This highly anticipated event is the crown jewel of Wilmington’s music festivals, and, beginning tonight, we look forward to welcoming residents and visitors to historic Rodney Square for some of the best jazz music around. And I hope many of those attending this week’s main stage concerts will take some time to visit the many new shops and restaurants in surrounding Downtown District, which is thriving as never before.”
Fittingly, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival opens during African-American Music Appreciation Month, an annual celebration of African-American music in the United States that was initiated as Black Music Month on June 7, 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter. In 2009, the commemoration was given its current name by President Barack Obama who, in his 2016 proclamation, noted that African-American music and musicians have helped this country “to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.”
The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival also occurs as the City commemorates Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated day to honor the end of slavery in the United States. This year’s festival opens 154 years to the day that Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and slaves had been freed.
To help mark the 25th Anniversary of Juneteenth observances in Delaware, Mayor Purzycki participated in the Delaware Juneteenth Association (DEJA)’s Freedom Parade and Festival in Wilmington on Saturday, June 15. After this evening’s main stage performances, DEJA is holding a Juneteenth Observance at the Resurrection Center, 3301 North Market Street, with featured speaker Bishop S. Todd Townsend Sr., PhD., EdD. The event starts at 7 p.m. and those seeking more information can call 302.314.5863. The month-long celebration culminates with the 3rdAnnual Freedom Gala on Sunday, June 23, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Wilmington, located at 4727 Concord Pike. Hosted by Dr. John Moore with music from the Liberty Allstar Band, the Freedom Gala benefits the Delaware Juneteenth Scholarship Fund. More information can be found here.
Jazz Festival Event Schedule
Wednesday, June 19 (Rodney Square Main Stage)
Etienne Charles Creole Soul
Thursday, June 20 (Rodney Square Main Stage)
Quincy Jones presents the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio
Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Pablo Batista’s Latin Jazz Ensemble with special guest Nestor Torres,
Friday, June 21 (Rodney Square Main Stage)
The Jenkins Project
Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah
Norman Brown Summer Storm starring Euge Groove and Lindsey Webster
Saturday, June 22 (Rodney Square Main Stage)
Fostina Dixon & Winds of Change
Mwenso & The Shakes
Raye Jones Avery & Adagio
Kendrick Scott Oracle
Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective
An Evening with Branford Marsalis
Friday, June 21 – Clifford Brown Block Party (Downtown Wilmington)
Live music, DJ, food and drink specials at participating restaurants.
Also on Saturday, June 22
At 11 a.m., “The Connection: Jazz, Folk Music, and African Griot in the music of Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield” will be presented at Christina Cultural Arts Center, located at 705 North Market Street. Using the music of Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield, two brilliant and lyrical storytellers (Griots) as well as established musical interpreters of everyday life (Folk singers), The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble takes the audience on an interactive musical journey. The audience will recognize some of their favorites like Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead” and Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” and will participate in creating jazz “riffs” that add to the core of the music’s impact while exploring the questions “Is it Jazz, Folk, or The Griot?” ….. and an even more important question: “Does It Really Matter?” Attendees are invited to bring their instruments.
At 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., “Hands On Jazz!!” will be presented at the Wilmington Library, located across the street from Rodney Square at 10 East 10th Street. This event will give children the opportunity to “touch” Jazz music via a hands-on “jam” session with The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble. Children are invited to explore the vibrant world of jazz, singing, drumming, scatting, dancing, and using their imaginations. The goal is to remove barriers between music and audiences (of all ages) and focus on the FUN and healing powers of live music.
Sunday June 23
At 3 p.m., The Light Up the Queen Foundation’s 2019 Graduates’ Concert of the Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency will be held at the Queen Theater, located at 5th and Market Streets in Downtown Wilmington. For more information about the Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency go to https://lightupthequeen.org/boysie-lowery-living-jazz-residency/