“Summertime, and the livin’s easy,” sang Satchmo and Ella in their symphonically jazzy take on Porgy and Bess — but if you’re one of the folks from the Jazz Arts Project, you might find the season of beach blankets, barbecues and bug zappers to be busier than a drum solo by the late great Buddy Rich.
It’s an interlude that swings things in classic night-owl style via this weekend’s inaugural entry in the long-running Summer Jazz Cafe series — about which more to come here on redbankgreen. But before all that, Red Bank-based nonprofit that brought you December’s annual Sinatra Birthday Bash and April’s Talkin’ Jazz lecture series jumps into July with the first in a weekly Thursday schedule of free Jazz in the Park events at Riverside Gardens.
That’s “free jazz” as in no charge for admission, as opposed to the wild and wiggy improvisations favored by bebop-and-beyond kinds of cats. But under the artistic direction of Joe “Mooche” Muccioli, jazz is a generous big tent that finds room for everything from classic big bands to intimate coffeehouse combos; Great American Songbook standards to next-generation flights of test-pilot daredevilry.
This Thursday evening, July 6, it’s the big-band guys who get to use their outdoor voice, as tenor saxophonist Mike Kaplan and his Nonet make their debut in the borough that gave the world the great Count Basie (to say nothing of the late and legendary Johnny Jazz). Superheated by a six-man horn section, the group serves up “an eclectic mix of material, all filtered through the 21st century sensibilities of the bandmembers” — while Gracie and the Dudes Organic Ice Cream serves up the cool stuff for a second summer season at the West Front Street park’s snack bar.
First note floats out over the picturesque Navesink River at about 7 p.m., with attendees encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets, and weather-related updates available by checking the Red Bank Parks and Recreation Facebook page or calling (732)530-2782.
The 2017 Jazz in the Park series resumes on July 13 with the return of vocalist Layonne Holmes, here fronting the New Standard showband in an expert channeling of Billie Holiday and other legendary ladies of jazz. The summer schedule continues with performances by David Cedeno and his Latin Jazz Orchestra (July 20), saxman Bruce Williams (July 27), the Stephane Wrembel Group (August 3), The Dan Levinson Hot Five (August 10), and G-Clef and His Infamous Jazz Orchestra (August 17), then wraps on August 24 with the Latin Jazz Explosion big band, led by pianist Oscar Perez.