If you're not that familiar with the work of the namesake of the jazz festival starting in downtown Wilmington this weekend, consider this: When Wilmington-born Clifford Brown died at the age of 25, his name was already being used in the same breath as iconic names like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
After all, it was Gillespie himself who pushed a 20-year-old Brown to continue with his gift after an earlier car accident in 1950 that left him hospitalized in a full-body cast.
Just as they have for the past 22 years, jazzheads from near and far will gather for a week of live jazz, filling Rodney Square with music that would make an 80-year-old Brown smile if he were still around today.
He was a virtuoso, kind of a prodigy, and he was bringing some exciting sounds to the music," says Bethel-based trumpeter Jim Miller, who regularly performs with everyone from the Wilmington ska band Bullbuckers to jazz acts like The Larks and the Pam Miller Band. His lyrical lines were so fast and are just so great. Trumpet players still talk about him to this day all the time."