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Jazz fest at Eustis Estate honors David Chesnut

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Jazz fest at Eustis Estate honors David Chesnut
Pianist and composer Zahili Gonzalez Zamora brings her trio to the Eustis Estate for the David Chesnut Jazz Festival. PHOTO: COURTESY MANDORLA MUSIC

In the late 1890s, David Chesnut worked as a coachman and chauffeur at the Eustis Estate in Milton. Chesnut was an avid music lover and spent his off hours performing trumpet solos, collecting John Sousa recordings and hosting musical get-togethers in his home.

David Chesnut on the grounds of the Eustis Estate. PHOTO: COURTESY HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND

More than a century after Chesnut walked the grounds of the estate tapping out beats with his fingers, his legacy will be celebrated with the inaugural David Chesnut Jazz Festival.

Hosted by Historic New England and Mandorla Music on the very estate where Chesnut worked, the all-day outdoor festival will feature a robust lineup of local musicians, family-friendly activities and food and beverages available for purchase. Attendees can also view “Music and Motion: The Chesnut Family Legacy,” a special exhibit about Chesnut’s history in the estate museum.

“It’s really exciting to highlight that part of the, until now, fairly invisible history of that place,” says Mark Redmond, founder and president of Mandorla Music. “It’s felt appropriate in launching this festival to pay homage to this musical family that had an important part in this property and its history.”

The musical talent in the family tree didn’t stop with David Chesnut. Both of his sons became successful jazz musicians, likely inspired by their father, and his great-grandson Matthew Corman is a rising hip-hop artist on the current music scene. A number of the Chesnut family members will be at the festival.

Redmond has coordinated several concerts with Historic New England but never so rooted in a special historical story like this one. The festival is also one of the larger events he’s orchestrated. The set list includes Astronomico, Jerry Bergonzi, Lemuel Marc, Andrew Stern and Zahili Gonzalez Zamora as well as a dance performance by Continuum Dance Project.

The David Chesnut Jazz Festival will debut from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Aug. 19 at the Eustis Estate in Milton. Tickets are $15 for Historic New England members and $20 for nonmembers. The Milton Cultural Council and The Edgartown Collection/Anne Hajjar provided financial support for the event. Redmond hopes to see the festival grow into an annual celebration.

Centering the festival on jazz music, a style developed by Black artists, celebrates Chesnut’s interest in the genre, but it also underscores the history of Black Americans in Boston, a history that isn’t always brought to light.

Jazz … has always been a genre of music that brings people together,” says musician Gonzalez Zamora. “It carries with it the depth of our African American heritage, and it celebrates life, joy, sadness, perseverance and triumph, through music.”

David Chesnut, Eustis Estate, jazz, music