Bloomington lost a major musical son when Delmar Brown passed away last month from cancer at age 62. The diminutive keyboard player who wowed fellow central Illinois musicians later did the same with some of the most recognizable names in music.
After graduating from Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music in the late 1970's, Brown played with, among others, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Youssou N'Dour.
Brown will be musically memorialized May 7 at Jazz UpFront in his hometown. Local musicians and friends are invited to jam in a celebration of Brown's life. Fellow Bloomington High graduate and lifelong friend Chuck Tripp will be among those on hand. Via phone from his home in Chicago, he recalled a phone conversation with Brown while he was at Berklee.
"He said 'you ought to come out here, there's a lot of gigs,'" said Tripp. "I ended up going out there a couple years later. We were pursuing music careers along with another roommate. We always wondered who was going to be the first one to 'get out there' and play with some of the professionals out there."
That roommate auditioned for the legendary jazz group Weather Report, and Brown later auditioned for now guitar legend Pat Martino. He landed the gig.
"And that was a big deal out in Boston, at least with all the jazz musicians and all the people who knew Delmar. He took off from there," said Tripp.
But much more was in store. A few years later Tripp received another call from Brown.
"I was in Chicago and he said he was playing with Sting now," said Tripp. "I was totally floored. And he got tickets for his mom, as well as me and my mom and brothers and sisters. He must have got 20 tickets, you know backstage passes, man. He was like absolutely phenomenal."
The jam session to celebrate the life of Delmar Brown will be Sunday, May 7 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Jazz UpFront, 107 W. Front street in Bloomington.
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