Cherry Blossom Nostalgia, the Chelsea Music Festival Jazz Finale

In New York City, we have begun the sultry melt into summer, sliding onto shaded park benches and lingering in the awnings of ritzy hotels, being highly preoccupied with pressing business calls, and by that I mean whispered exultations to the gods of central air conditioning. Everyone wants to be just a little bit cooler, and since I’ve already disclosed my canniest heat-evasion strategies, I have just one more suggestion: jazz. What’s cooler than jazz?

The attendees of the Chelsea Music Festival’s finale on Saturday night know this. CMF wrapped up a week of gracing New York City with performances by some of the world’s most distinguished classical musicians, one such performance being the SAGA world premiere of Somei Satoh’s latest composition. Attendance at the festival more than doubled this year, and it’s no wonder, with a Visual Artist-in-Residence like Makoto Fujimura, and multi award-winning chef Lance Nitahara indulging guests at the event receptions with his culinary prowess.

                                                          Joseph Lepore, bassist for the Adam Birnbaum Trio 

And on Saturday night, the Adam Birnbaum Trio performed their jazz arrangements of select scores by Debussy, the festival’s central “protagonist” this year.   It was a glamorous finale, because with jazz comes nostalgia, and the theme of the evening was “Cherry Blossom Road.” As baritone Morgan Smith sang ‘The Rest of Your Life” (what are you doing with it?), the audience remembered a hot summer night long ago, white lights strung over a dance floor, sweaty fingers entwined, slipping out the back door to run down a tree lined road, and the perfume of cherry blossoms in the dark (whether or not this actually happened to the audience members in question is irrelevant”” it’s nostalgia!).

                                                            Baritone Morgan Smith performing with the Trio

The performance took place in the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, which is currently hosting an exhibit on the future of water, the mere presence of which seemed to beckon a cool river breeze from the Chelsea Piers down the street. With a glass of wine, Lance Nitahara’s sumptuous Cherry Blossom Panna Cotta, and Jerome Sabbagh making conversation on the saxophone, the evening became one with the makings of nostalgia, remembered on another hot New York night that has yet to come.
                                                                        Jerome Sabbagh, saxophonist and composer

Read about opening night at the Chelsea Music Festival and a talk with Somei Satoh about his musical inspiration.