It’s that time of year again when the temperature begins to rise and barren trees sprout bright pink flowers as tourists fill the streets. The cherry blossoms were expected to peak this past weekend, but the National Cherry Blossom Festival will run through April 13, in celebration of the gift of 3,000 cherry trees given to the city in 1912 by then-Mayor of Tokyo Yukio Ozaki.
To commemorate the occasion, many bars and restaurants are offering cherry blossom-inspired specials. On the House side, Executive Chef Bart M. Vandaele of Belga Cafe (514 Eighth St. SE) will be offering duck breast in a cherry beer sauce as well as a cherry beer and Champagne cocktail.
For those who work in the Senate, Charlie Palmer Steak (101 Constitution Ave. NW) will be preparing roasted Colorado lamb loin with bing cherries.
Cherry-themed cocktails also will be offered at various D.C. bars. Lounge 201 (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE) will be serving the “Cherry Bomb,” a mixture of house- infused cherry vodka, Stolichnaya Vanil and Coca Cola. For those looking to venture off the Hill, Zengo (781 Seventh St. NW) in Chinatown will be pouring “Cherry Blossom Saketinis,” containing unfiltered sake, lychee and sake-cherry syrup.
Jazz to Take Center Stage in April
Washingtonians celebrating the arrival of the cherry blossoms also can celebrate the “birth of the cool” with the launch of the Smithsonian’s eighth annual Jazz Appreciation Month.
JAM, which kicks off today with a lunchtime performance at The George Washington University, features activities and events ranging from master’s level lecture classes to performances for all ages.
“The objective of Jazz Appreciation Month is to increase the understanding and appreciation of jazz as a historical and living treasure, deeply rooted in American culture and now celebrated throughout the world,” Smithsonian Music Curator John Hasse said.
With a record 34 events scheduled in Washington for the month of April and coordinated programming across the country and the world, organizers say this year’s programming is the most diverse and comprehensive calendar of events since JAM’s inception.
“[Jazz Appreciation Month] has grown from nothing in 2001 to this worldwide celebration of the American art form,” Hasse said.
Several of the scheduled events highlight the global reach of jazz, including two performances by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, which has recently returned from a State Department tour in Egypt.
JAM also features events with four National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters, including Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Maestro David Baker, Goodwill Ambassador of Jazz Dave Brubeck, saxophonist Sonny Rollins and percussionist Candido Camero.
“This is a rare opportunity for the public to come hear these giants of music right here in Washington,” Hasse said.
For more information and a schedule of events, visit smithsonianjazz.org.
— Alison McSherry and Torey Van Oot