After launching its first international extension in Doha, Jazz at Lincoln Center spread some of its New York cool to the capital last week.
In collaboration with The St Regis Abu Dhabi, the American musical institution, which is led by the trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, hosted a three-day festival at the hotel on the Corniche with a series of performances to suit all tastes.
It kicked off on Wednesday with an exquisite midnight supper (which actually began at 9pm) that laid on fine dining accompanied by some wonderful tunes.
The evening started with a four-course meal in the dazzling Abu Dhabi suite on the 48th floor – the Wagyu beef was a standout – before guests were ushered downstairs to the St Regis Bar for a loose and intimate set by the trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, the vocalist Gregory Generet and the marimba player Christian Tamburr.
Beginning with an elegant solo take of Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World, Farinacci then introduced the band who jumped straight into a selection of jazz standards. The highlight was Generet's deeply expressive take on What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
After a family day on Thursday, where children gathered at the hotel to have a go at playing some instruments and get musical tips from the maestros, the stage was set yesterday for some more classic jazz on a breezy night at the Nation Riviera Beach Club, the exclusive leisure venue across the road from the hotel.
About 100 guests enjoyed the four-hour extravaganza, which again included dinner. Generet got the evening started with a soulful rendition of George Gershwin's Summertime, again accompanied by the talented Farinacci.
Also performing were several members of the Doha Philharmonic Orchestra and visiting New York musicians on violin, piano, bass and vibraphone. Together they delivered a rousing set mixing classics, blues and even pop songs – an instrumental version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit was tastefully delivered.
The night – and the event – finished in style with festival encore of What a Wonderful World, this time with Generet on vocals. His vocal depth and charisma breathed new life into the old classic.
Judging by the quality and atmosphere on display, the inaugural Jazz at St Regis was an unqualified success – here’s hoping for a follow-up.
With additional reporting by Rosemary Behan