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Celebrate America on July 4 with contemporary jazz, fireworks over Bradley Fair lake

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Saturday, June 29, 2013, at 11:04 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 28, 2014, at 8:07 a.m.

If you go

Celebrate America outdoor jazz concert and fireworks show

When: 7:30-10 p.m. Thursday. Concert by jazz saxophonist Joseph Vincelli begins at 7:30 p.m. and will last for two hours, immediately followed by the fireworks show.

Where: Bradley Fair Plaza overlooking the lake at 21st and Rock Road

Cost: Free. Guests may bring lawn chairs.

Information: www.bradleyfair.com or 316-630-9990

Bradley Fair is continuing its unique tribute to Independence Day this Thursday with Celebrate America. The outdoor jazz concert and fireworks extravaganza is a tradition that was started after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It has since become a premier patriotic gathering and serves as the finale to the shopping center’s lakeside summer concert series. The event will welcome back musician Joseph Vincelli for an evening of rousing music and thunderous fireworks.

“It’s a very unique experience,” said Cathy Erickson, vice president at Laham Development, the Bradley Fair developer. “It’s a very festive atmosphere all night long. The fireworks are very, very different from anything else that you will see in Wichita because of the setting by the water and their trajectory across the lake. You can actually feel the fireworks. It’s a very emotional concert. This is our way of giving back to the community.”

Erickson said attendance for the climax of the concert series has grown steadily. It’s always the most attended show of the season. She estimated that 10,000 to 12,000 people will come out for the free event. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to come early to find a spot for their lawn chairs, which can be left out during the day in the open-air terrace and fountain area. Many people arrive as early as 6 a.m. to save a spot.

This event and the preceding summer concerts are done in conjunction with Bradley Fair’s radio partner, B-98FM, Clear Channel Radio and Fidelity Bank. All costs are underwritten by the stores and restaurants within the shopping center and by the event’s sponsors.

The concert with Vincelli will begin at 7:30 p.m. and last for two hours. Immediately following, fireworks will light up the sky from across the lake to the tune of a special music arrangement.

Erickson noted that Vincelli is a favorite among concert-goers, having performed over a dozen times in conjunction with the series. His broad appeal and high energy are part of what has made his appearance integral to the event.

Bradley Fair has been offering the outdoor concert series for 14 years. The fireworks were added in 2002.

“We conduct a nationwide search for our artists and bring in some of the top smooth jazz artists from across the country,” Erickson said. “He has the longest history of playing at the summer concerts out of the 14 years that we have been doing this. He has a huge following in the Wichita community and an excellent fan base. Because he has been coming to Bradley Fair so long, he has made a lot of friends here.”

Vincelli said the venue lends itself well to his style of music, which he described as high energy. For him, audience interaction and improvisation are keys to a memorable performance. He often jumps out into the crowd to serenade some of the ladies or dance and mingle with the guests while performing. His animated style is contagious, too. Ten years ago, he said, a 90-year-old man got up and started dancing at the end of his performance. This evolved into a practice of audiences taking to their feet.

“I always try to do a high-energy show and put all of my passion into the music. It infiltrates all of the musicians on stage,” he said. “People get excited and dig the music. I think they like the music a lot, but it’s also me going out into the audience and playing … they get a charge out of that. Interaction is the primary reason.”

Vincelli has been hailed for the depth of diversity found in his music, receiving the Scott Joplin Award for achievement and being named the 2000 Hall of Fame winner at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Festival. Vincelli calls his style distinctly contemporary.

“It’s contemporary jazz. This isn’t what you have on in your office while you’re working,” he said. “I have songs that are ballads and smooths, but for the most part it’s funky and contemporary. It’s definitely jazz, and it’s definitely instrumental, and it’s definitely original.”

He has recorded 15 CDs and put out a DVD over an 18-year period. His latest CD, “Meritage,” is a flute-based recording that was fan-requested. All proceeds from it go to benefit a non-profit that he founded a year ago called The Artist Outreach. The art-based educational workshop program aims to foster innovation by putting an emphasis on music within existing curriculums across the Midwest.

For his performance on Thursday, Vincelli promises music from his latest CD as well as an array of favorites from past compilations. There will also be a special Fourth of July tribute. Of course, he plans lots of audience interaction, too.

“People appreciate when you go up directly and play to them,” Vincelli said. “It’s a sense of completion, feeling like they are part of the whole gig. It really comes down to them feeling good and wanting to come again.”

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