Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Recent Autumn Night at The Buttonwood Tree

A pleasant walk down Main Street in Middletown leads to The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center, an intimate retreat in the heart of the city. Although the late fall air was cool and crisp, within the cozy confines of the café and art center. Executive Director Anne-Marie (Cannata) McEwen and her group of dedicated volunteers create an atmosphere of familial warmth on this Friday Evening, the Sinan Bakir Trio was performing. The trio is led by jazz guitarist and composer Sinan Bakir and features George Mastrogiannis on the drums and Silvain Castellano on the bass.

Local art help to frame the beautiful exposed bricks of the performance area and provides the patron with a sense of big city space. The trio kicked off the evening around 8 pm and shared two memorable sets with the lively audience. The gentle rhythms of the guitar were highlighted by the casually understated bass play and the occasional raucous snap of the snare. A highlight of the first set was a Bakir original entitled “Circles”, named after the 2012 Tales and Stories release.

During intermission, The Buttonwood Tree serves up piping hot coffee, tea, and hot cocoa and a variety of snacks including a staff favorite, the homemade coconut macaroons. I must say the macaroons are exceptionally delicious. The refreshments are served in a traditional coffeehouse settings and the café is lined with stacks of wonderfully addictive books. Intermission also provides audience members with other, non-culinary and nonliterary options as well.

Many patrons casually strolled the art gallery and commented on the exceptional talents of so many of the local artists who have installed their art at The Buttonwood. One patron commented on Wesleyan student Ray Miao’s canvas entitled “Happy Together”, a painting of a young man in a t-shirt contemplating life on a glorious summer day. The female patron marveled at the composition’s scope and the use of colors when I asked her about the jazz music she exclaimed, “Oh it’s just amazing. We will travel great distances for a Sinan Bakir performance. The fact that he is right here at The Buttonwood is so very special.”

The second half of the performance was highlighted by a gentle ballad and a rendition of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”. The dreamy electric chords of the Bakir Trio are at times a combination of standard jazz, trippy blues, and East meets West fusion. Whatever you may call it, the performance was terrific and certainly was a warm and wonderful diversion on a fall evening. The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center is located on 605 Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut. It is a community-based nonprofit arts organization that serves Central Connecticut with music events, a bookstore, performing arts, and educational programming. For more information about The Buttonwood or to see what events are scheduled please visit

By Jeb Albert Heade (11/12/16)

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