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Clifford Brown Jazz Fest returns to Rodney Square

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines



The 34th annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival returns to Rodney Park Wednesday and will wind up Sunday with a nationally known hip hop dancer and choreographer who was born in Wilmington.

During the week, after-concert jam sessions will feature visiting and local musicians.

The festival recommends following all state COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing a mask if you’re not vaccinated. Vaccinations will be provided by the state Wednesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. on a first come, first-served basis.

The jazz fest, which was held virtually last year, is considered the premiere music event of the year in Wilmington and the largest free jazz festival on the East Coast. Those attending are advised to bring a lawn chair.

It is named for a Wilmington trumpeter who died young in a car accident but whose style has influenced generations of trumpeters.

The main stage concerts will be held in the newly renovated Rodney Square, starting at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, noon on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Find the schedule of performers here.


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Raphael Xavier


Wilmington native Raphael Xavier will close the festival Sunday with his first-ever performance in Wilmington, a joint venture by the festival and the Delaware Art Museum.

He will perform his “The Musician & The Mover” at 5:30 p.m. It is an exploration of freestyle and improvisation using break dancing and jazz.

Among other things, Xavier has been awarded a 2013 Pew Fellowship, a 2014 MacDowell Fellowship, a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2018/19 Caroline Hearst choreographic residency. Formerly a member of Rennie Harris Puremovement, he now lectures on dance at Princeton’s Lewis Center. He’s also a spoken word artist.

Xavier also will perform at the Late Night Jam Session on Friday, Aug. 6.

After-concert jam sessions will be held each night of the festival from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. A different house band will be featured each night. The Wednesday and Saturday sessions will take place at Chelsea Tavern. The Thursday and Friday sessions will take place at Le Cavalier. located on the ground floor of The Hotel du Pont.

Sunday’s line-up will feature the graduation performance of the Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency at 1 p.m.; Pieces of a Dream at 2:45 p.m.; Wilmington Ballet at 3:45 p.m.; Dara Meredith in “Bridge of Our Roots” at 4:30 p.m.; and Xavier at 5:30 p.m. 

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