RED BANK: JAZZ IN JULY AND BEYOND

Warren VacheTrumpeter Warren Vaché sounds the keynote for a new series of Summer Jazz Cafe events at Two River Theater this weekend. Keith Marks, below parks it at Riverside Gardens for the first in A slate of free outdoor jazz concerts Thursday night.  

Keith MarksAlthough it keeps a year-round beat that includes December’s annual Sinatra Birthday Bash, the spring series of Talkin’ Jazz lectures and the ongoing sessions of the Jazz Arts Academy, summertime means the livin’ is also busy for the Jazz Arts Project, the nonprofit arts organization based here in Red Bank, the borough that gave the world Count Basie (to say nothing of the late and legendary Johnny Jazz).

It’s a flurry of activity that really hits home in this first full week of July, as Jazz Arts and artistic director Joe “Mooche” Muccioli introduce a new schedule for a seasonal signifier — the celebrated Summer Jazz Café at Two River Theater — along with the return of a relatively recent warm-weather diversion: the free series of Jazz in the Park concerts at Riverside Gardens Park.

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RED BANK: JAZZ IS ALIVE AND KICKING

BruceWms TonyDeSareSaxman Bruce Williams kicks off a summer schedule of free Jazz in the Park sessions Thursday night at Riverside Gardens… while Friday and Saturday find Café-society crooner Tony DeSare playing a two night stand at Two River Theater.

Like, who says Jazz is a moribund museum piece, fit more for starchy concert-hall settings than those people’s-choice settings that made it what it is? Certainly not the Red Bank-based Jazz Arts Project, an organization that keeps a porchlight burning in the town that’s gifted the world with Count Basie, Al Wright, and the immortal Johnny Jazz.

Now in its 10th year of operation, the nonprofit overseen by artistic director Joe “Mooche” Muccioli has stepped up its game – with the return of the celebrated Summer Jazz Cafe series, an expanded slate of Jazz Arts Academy offerings, and (for the first time in the event’s long-running history) a schedule of free Jazz in the Park concerts that’s been programmed in full by Mooche and company.

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RED BANK: NOW YOU HAS JAZZ

Sweet WhiskeyVocalist Maggie Worsdale fronts the Sweet Whiskey Band in a set of “Songs Under the Influence,” Friday and Saturday at Two River Theater. (photo by Roberto Muolo)

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.

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RED BANK: TALKIN’ HOT JAZZ IN JULY

He plays seashells by the seashore: trombonist and “seashellist” Steve Turre  brings his quintet to the Two River Theater on Friday and Saturday.

By TOM CHESEK

Whoever coined the phrase “Le Jazz Hot” might well have been thinking of the muddy, muggy banks of the Navesink in the months of July and August, as the borough that birthed Count Basie tends to fill its superheated summer days and trez-cool nights with the sorts of sounds that honor the legacy of the legendary Kid from Red Bank.

The musical fireworks start Thursday, when the waterfront walkways of Riverside Gardens reverb with the first of this year’s open-air Jazz in the Park junkets. Then, on Friday and Saturday, the Marion Huber room at Two River Theater is transformed once more into  a cool cavern of candlelit tables, classic coffeehouse vibes and close-up concert dynamics — when the series known as Summer Jazz Café turns that “black box” space into the area’s best-kept-secret nightspot.

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A MONTH OF ‘LE JAZZ HOT’ ON THE GREEN

Trumpeter Claudio Roditi sounds a keynote to a month of jazzy happenings in and around Red Bank, with a Weekend in Brazil that kicks off the Summer Jazz Cafe series at Two River Theater.

Red Bankers generally don’t need any reminders that theirs is the borough that birthed the great William ‘Count’ Basie. Still, a recent return visit by Grammy-winning retro pop-jazz harmonizers The Manhattan Transfer served to demonstrate the degree of respect that the hometown of the legendary “Kid from Red Bank” inspires from coast to coast, as LA-based Tim Hauser and company (who actually recorded some sessions with the late great bandleader for their 1985 album Vocalese) shared a set-within-a-set of Basie-related numbers as a special treat for the Count Basie Theatre audience.

As the calendar strikes July, the greater Red Bank green’s reputation as a musical mecca for sophisticated cats and kittens begins to warm up in earnest, with the superheated days and trez-cool nights of the post-Fourth interlude offering up an unparalleled number of opportunities to take in various things jazzy.

It all clicks in this weekend, with the first in the annual Summer Jazz Café series at Two River Theater — a nocturnal excursion complemented by a day-trip whistle stop at the Middletown Jazz & Blues Festival. Then on Thursday the 12th, the waterfront walkways and sculpted terraces of Riverside Gardens reverb with the first in the open-air 2012 Jazz in the Park outings.

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