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‘Jazz and Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden Summer Concert Series

Jazz & Chihuly, Damien Sneed, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden

Damien Sneed and musicians in ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ at the New York Botanical Garden (Carole Di Tosti)

Considering the Charlottesville, Virginia August 11th incidents and the tragic loss of one woman’s life, up through the president’s press conference of Tuesday, August 15th, these days of August have been tumultuous and divisive. Indeed, taking a stand to uphold human rights and decry hate groups that seek mainstream political power appears to be more vital than ever as protest marches this past weekend indicate.  Symbolic action, whether it is through protest demonstrations or concerts is a reminder to all that Love trumps Hate. A great majority of Americans are committed to upholding the sanctity of every life, regardless of race or religion.

New York Botanical Garden, Koda Study No. 3, Dale Chihuly, Damien Sneed, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

Chihuly sculptures (“Koda Study No. 3”) in the New York Botanical Garden water lily and lotus pond backdropped by the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, after the summer concert series, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ with Damien Sneed,  and his ensemble and guest Keyon Harrold (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s Persian Pond and Fiori (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s ‘Persian Pond and Fiori’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s Persian Pond and Fiori (2017), Jazz & chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden, summer concert series

Detail, Chihuly’s ‘Persian Pond and Fiori’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s Persian Pond and Fiori (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYBG summer concert series

Detail, NYBG Palms of the World Gallery, Chihuly’s ‘Persian Pond and Fiori’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Serendipitiously, the final summer concert series at the New York Botanical Garden on Friday, 18 August was a majestic reminder of this citizen commitment. Despite the threatening thunderstorm and intermittent periods of rain throughout the day, the turnout to embrace Jazz and Chihuly, “Songs of Protest & Reconciliation” was overwhelming.

Damien Sneed, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYGB summer concert series

Damien Sneed, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden

The audience for ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ the concert series at the New York Botanical Garden (Carole Di Tosti)

The tent was packed with a diverse crowd who were there to enjoy the all-star musical group led by award-winning pianist and vocalist, Damien Sneed, guest trumpeter Keyon Harrold and the other prodigiously talented musicians and vocal artists. Together, these individuals presented an evening of entertainment that was poignant and joyful. And after joining with them in celebrating some of the best songs created by greats of jazz, soul, gospel and contemporary music (including two composed by Damien Sneed), the audience was sent out into the night sans rain to appreciate the luminous Chihuly sculptures presented throughout the grounds and in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Chihuly's Red Reeds on Logs (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden

Dale Chihuly’s “Red Reeds on Logs” (2017) part of the special concert series ‘Jazz and Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ at the New York Botanical Garden (Carole Di Tosti)

Sol del Citron, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer series

“Sol del Citron” at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Sapphire Star, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer series

‘Dale Chihuly’s ‘Sapphire Star’ ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

New York Botanical Garden summer concert series, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower (2017)

Chihuly’s ‘Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

This final concert in the summer series was co-produced by the Catskill Jazz Factory and Absolutely Live Entertainment. The Catskill Jazz Factory encompasses a dynamic jazz program whose mission is to aid some of the finest young jazz artists with year-round workshops, concerts, residencies and world-class performances in the Hudson Valley. Absolutely Live Entertainment is a festival, tour and concert production company spearheaded by Danny Melnick. Malnick is the Producer of the Newport Jazz Festival and the Artistic Director of Carnegie Halls’ The Shape of Jazz series.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series, Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed rouses the crowd at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Damien Sneed, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Damien Sneed on piano and vocals at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Damien Sneed is a master of practically every musical genre and a 2014 recipient of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence honor which is presented annually to emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music. His facility with jazz, gospel, pop, R & B, opera and musical theater and his work with Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross have served him in excellent stead.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Ensemble vocalists, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden, summer concert series, Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed and ensemble musicians at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Sneed facilely shepherded the ensemble of vocalists Chenee Campbell, Anitra McKinney, Djore Nance, Tiffany Stevenson, Matia Washington and musicians Stacy Dillard (saxophone) Corey Wilcox (trombone) Julius Rodriguez (Hammond B3 organ) John Matthew Clark (bass guitar), Mark Clark, Jr. (drums). The songs of protest “I Wish I knew How it Would Feel to Be Free” (Nina Simone), “Oh Freedom,” (African-American spiritual), “Follow the Drinking Gourd (Underground Railroad) and “Freedom (excerpt)” (Duke Ellington) for example, emphasized every individual’s yearning for freedom and what freedom means collectively and personally.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Vocal ensemble, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

During the first half of the evening, an audience member brought up a T-Shirt and draped it on a music stand. The T-Shirt had the logo, “Black Lives Matter.” Her action was spontaneous and unstaged.

Interspersed with these songs of protest were the songs of reconciliation: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon and Garfunkel), “God Bless the Child, (Billie Holiday & Arthur Herzog, Jr., “Proud Mary,” (John Fogarty), “Is My Living in Vain,” (Twinkie Clark & The Clark Sisters) and more. Each number featured a powerful solo by one of the vocalists. The audience showed their appreciation with standing ovations.

Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Powerful solo performances by the ensemble garnered standing ovations at ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

During the second portion of the evening, Keyon Harrold performed a song he had composed. Harrold presented “When Will The Killing Stop?” as a dedication to Michael Brown and all the young, black men who have been killed for “no good reason.” His playing was at once soulful and poignant, his talent incredible. It is no wonder he has been featured on nearly 100 albums with a wide music range from jazz to R & B, from pop and gospel, to blues and hip-hop.

Keyon Harrold, Jazz & Chihuly Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Keyon Harrold trumpeter at “Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Keyon Harrold, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Keyon Harrold, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Damien Sneed, Keyon Harrold, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYBG summer concert series

(L to R): Damien Sneed, Keyon Harrold, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

By the conclusion of the evening, the storm and rain had stopped and the audience had been refreshed and uplifted by the development of the program from seeking soul freedom to the process by which that freedom evolves: forgiveness, reconciliation and love.

Dale Chihuly’s Macchia Forrest (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden, summer concert series

Dale Chihuly’s ‘Macchia Forrest’ (2017), ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ NYBG summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Chihuly's White Tower with Fiori, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation

Chihuly’s ‘White Tower with Fiori.’ central showcase, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, New York Botanical Garden, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Dale Chihuly’s Macchia Forrest (2017), Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, NYBG summer concert series

Dale Chihuly’s ‘Neon 206’ ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation,’ NYBG summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life with Chihuly's Blue Polyvitro Crystals, Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation, New York Botanical Garden summer concert series

Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life with Chihuly’s Blue Polyvitro Crystals, ‘Jazz & Chihuly, Songs of Protest & Reconciliation’ New York Botanical Garden summer concert series (Carole Di Tosti)

On this night the evolution was inspired through music and exceptional artistry which united and uplifted a community of jazz, botanical and Chihuly enthusiasts. For audience members it was a clarification of the last few weeks and exemplification of all that is best in human hearts, further embodied by our wonderment at the fantastic, illuminated Chihuly sculptures.

 

 

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