April may be National Jazz Appreciation Month — a fact driven home locally and yearly by Joe Muccioli‘s Talkin’ Jazz series at the Count Basie Theatre — but things really heat up jazzwise in this Basie-birthing borough during the month of July, an interlude during which several weekends’ worth of Summer Jazz cafe events at Two River Theater are keynoted by open-air Thursdays at Riverside Gardens’ Jazz in the Park series.
The 2014 slate of outdoor concerts (presented by Red Bank Parks and Recreation Department) continues on the evening of July 24 in a classically cool vein, when drummer Darwin B. Oden and his combo return to the banks of the Navesink for some improvisatory, exploratory sets ‘neath the setting sun and stars. The music kicks in at 7:30 pm (weather permitting; call Parks and Rec at 732-530-2782 for day-of-show updates); bring lawn chairs or blankets, and dress comfy casual — then go home, get dressed for a sophisticated night on the town, and reconvene at Two River for an extra special Friday and Saturday session.
The Sweet Whiskey Band is the name of the project established by a couple of frequent collaborators with Red Bank’s Jazz Arts Project — vocalist Maggie Worsdale, and pianist John “Johnny Chops” Colliani (who took on “Rhapsody in Blue” during the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra’s 2013 salute to George Gershwin at the Count Basie). They’re joined by bassist James Cammack and guitarist Nick Russo (quite possibly the only guy who’s played in Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks and authored a book about Metallica) for a set of seductive songbook standards, served straight-up neat as Songs Under the Influence. The band comes to the Summer Jazz cafe stage inside Two River’s “black box” space for a two-night stand on July 5-26 — a rare opportunity to get Whiskey’d up at the town’s swingingest booze-free speakeasy, and, according to Muccioli, an opportunity to participate in a possible recording session for a live album. Reserve tickets for either of the two 8 pm evenings ($10 students, $25 adults) right here — and check back in to the Cafe next weekend, for a last-call “Legends and Lions” safari featuring saxophonist Bruce Williams with Hammond master Radam Schwartz and The Organ Band.
The 2014 Jazz in the Park series continues with saxman Bradford Hayes (July 31), Valerie Adams and the Dimension Band (August 7), the after-bedtime grownup pop sounds of fave children’s entertainer Sherri Ehrlich (August 14), and a closing set by the Jazz Lobsters Big Band at the tail end of the season (August 21). Don’t forget to keep tabs year-round on the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation, and its long-running series of Reckless Steamy Friday Nights house parties at the Red Bank Woman’s Club.