Though he died tragically in 1956 at the age of 25, jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown left a larger than life legacy. “Brownie Speaks,” a three-day symposium at the University October 30 – November 1 brought together jazz aficionados, musicians and educators to study, explore and celebrate Brown’s life and music. The event featured jam sessions, panel discussions and academic presentations, and performances by jazz greats Benny Golson, Lou Donaldson and Terence Blanchard. Brown’s son, Clifford Brown Jr., served as the event’s master of ceremonies.
“I think we made history,” said School of Music professor Don Glanden, the driving force behind the event. “We added to the body of knowledge, showcased our student musicians, made some of the biggest names in jazz and jazz education aware of our work, and gave our students an amazing and unique experience.”
Glanden premiered his documentary, “Brownie Speaks,” that features interviews with Brown’s wife, LaRue Brown Watson, and family, friends and associates, including Donald Byrd, Donaldson, Golson, Wynton Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval and Herb Geller. The academic portion of the symposium included presentations on such varied subjects as Brown’s improvisational style, his early influences and his years in his hometown of Wilmington, Del. Other participants included jazz critic and columnist Nat Hentoff; jazz pianist and keyboardist, noted author and Professor of Music at Rutgers-Newark Lewis Porter; Rick Lawn, saxophonist and dean of the College of Performing Arts at The University of the Arts; trumpeter and University of Denver professor Alan Hood; Clifford Brown biographer Nick Catalano; disc jockey Phil Schaap; and jazz greats Jimmy Heath, Golson and Donaldson.
The on-campus concerts with Golson, Donaldson and Blanchard drew nearly 2,000 attendees. The Lars Halle Jazz Orchestra premiered a new John Fedchock composition dedicated to Clifford Brown.
The Philadelphia Music Project, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts, sponsored the performance component of the symposium, with additional support from The University of the Arts and the recently founded Philadelphia Jazz Heritage Project.
“This event was a success beyond our hopes, and follow-up from many of the participants confirmed that,” said College of Performing Arts Dean Rick Lawn. “We can think of no stone that was left unturned in bringing together artists, students, scholars and honorees for this fitting celebration of Clifford Brown.”
This story appears courtesy of University of the Arts, Media Relations.
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