Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Bringing Musical Life to the Dead


When I received an email from vocalist Gelsey Bell asking me if I was available to play as gig at a cemetery, I wasn't sure what to expect. But after doing some research, I found it wasn't just any cemetery but the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, the eternal residence to such luminaries at Jean-Michel Basquiat and Leonard Bernstein. 

The evening featured a wonderful cast of improvisers in solo, duo, and trio settings for 15-minute increments at a time. 

Jen Baker, trombone
Gelsey Bell, voice
gamin, percussion
Joy Guidry, bassoon 
Amirtha Kidambi, voice
Sam Newsome, sax
Cleek Schrey, fiddle
Lester St. Louis, cello
Fay Victor, voice
Gelsey Bell, voice

The photo features me with Jen Baker and Amirtha Kidambi.

There were two primary spaces: the Catacombs and the Whitney Mausoleum. We played from 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM continuously for three hours with occasion breaks. I've done a lot of gigs, but I can say with certainty that this is the first time I've improvised for three hours. It was quite an experience. Needless to say, I was quite exhausted afterward. But energized in a surreal kind of way 

I'm not sure if I'll be invited to do something like this again, but I hope everyone gets a chance to experience some like this at least once. Hats off to Gelsey Bell for having the vision to put this together.

Please check the New York Times article below.

And here's a short snippet demonstrating the sonic beauty of the space. I wish it was longer.

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