First, if you want to eatand you probably willitll cost you $35. The food promises to be terrific, and the money goes to a worthy organization.
But if you cant swing the $35, or have other gustatory plans, dont let the price of a food-access wristband keep you away. Because the main event is a free jazz concert. And this should be one hell of a show.
In fact, it may prove historic. It’s the kind of event that has real potential to boost Red Banks national and even international profile.
Were talking about this Saturdays A Taste of Red Bank event at the Two River Theater. More than a dozen restaurants from town will be under a tent outside the theater offering samples of their cuisine from noon to 5p. Funds raised by the tasting benefit the Monmouth County Arts Council, a financial supporter of all manner of visual and performing arts, including the Jazz Arts Café, which recently completed its premier seven-show program at the theater.
But the bigger deal, in our view, is debut of the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra in conjunction with the tasting. The 16-piece ensemble (for this event, that is) will play from 2p to 5p, also outdoors. Red Banks own Joe Muccioli, who has led jazz orchestras around the world, will conduct.
If your first thought is, “jazz equivalent of community theater,” think again. Theres nothing modest about this ensemble. The orchestra is Mucciolis attempt to create a world-class, symphony-style jazz band to reprise some of the best studio and live performances from the history of jazz, including compositions by Basie, Ellington and Gil Evans.
Modeled on the Jazz at Lincoln Center programwhere Muccioli has also conducted, leading the likes of Wynton Marsalisthe idea is to bring the best professional jazz musicians, and the classic works of the form, to Red Bank, birthplace of the great Count Basie.
I go to Europe and say Red Bank, and the first thing they say is, Oh! Count Basie! says Muccioli. They recognize it in Bulgaria, for Petes sake. It seems to me that its incumbent on us to take care of that historic connection.
Whos in the orchestra? Itll have different personnel, and take on shifting sizes and instrumentation, depending on the pieces to be played, says Muccioliand the repertoire will roam the stylistic range of jazz, from bebop to swing to more contemporary iterations. The unifying thread, though, will be that the players are all first-call session men and women, the musicians who get the primo gigs at Broadway shows, on record and in club dates.
No Red Bank players are in the initial lineup, says Muccioli. Because their work is in New York, most of the top jazz players tend to live closer to the city than Red Bank, he explains. Still, there are great players at the Shore, he says, and my ears are always open to local players.
The orchestra is planning a knockout trio of programs through 2007, starting in December with what Muccioli calls Ellingtons thrilling version of ‘The Nutcracker.’ Beyond that, Muccioli says, hes hoping to find the ensemble a permanent home in town, ideally at the Two River Theater.
We hope, says Muccioli. Were at the beginning stages of a relationship with them.
The rain date for the event is Sunday, Aug. 20.