“Pied Piper of Jazz” Keith Marks keynoted a new slate of free outdoor jazz concerts on August 22 — a Count Basie 365 Cultural Series that continues Friday evening with vocalist Valarie Adams and showband.
Like a lot of institutions in the town that birthed the great “Count” Basie, it honors the “Kid from Red Bank” who became one of the pivotal bandleaders of jazz’s golden age — a living link that’s rooted in a place where the likes of Al Wright and Joe Muccioli continue to uphold the tradition.
Continuing for the next three Fridays at West Side Park (aka “the pocket park”) on the corner of Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue (aka DJ2 ‘n Shrew), the third annual Count Basie 365 Cultural Series also pays tribute to a real unsung hero of the art form — Ralph Gatta, longtime proprietor of Johnny’s Jazz Market, and an aficionado whose exuberant passion and expertise on all things jazz were second to no one’s.
A project of the mayor-appointed Red Bank Borough’s Vision Committee, the series kicked off on August 22 with a concert by a frequent summer-season guest performer — jazz flautist Keith Marks. The music resumes on September 5 with the return of another staple of summer concert stages, Valarie Adams and the Dimensions, with the dynamic showband bringing their encyclopedic setlist of soul/ Motown/ funk favorites beneath the stars at 6:45 pm.
On September 12, the series welcomes back The Gambone Project, a cool-jazz trio (Philly-bred keyboardist/vocalist Greg Gambone, bassman Vince Giardina, drummer Jonathan Sims Jr.) that was booked for its very first show at Frank Talk, the fondly recalled Shrewsbury Avenue “art bistro” owned by Gilda Rogers (the band would return the favor with their original composition “Frankly Gilda”).
The Basie 365 concert series sees out the summer on September 19 with an appearance by Red Bank’s unofficial musical Mayor — guitarist Chuck Lambert and his supercharged take on down-home blues. Opening for Chuck will be a glimpse into the next generation of tuneful talent to emerge from Basie’s borough — the students of the Red Bank Public Schools String Program.
There’s an assigned rain date of Saturday, September 20 as a make-good for any potential postponements. Call Councilwoman and Vision Committee Chair Juanita Lewis at (732)842-8673 or email jlewis@RedBankNJ.org for weather-related updates, sponsorship opportunities or other info.