RED BANK: FORTUNE SETS ‘BASIE 2020’ SKED

william count basie postersImages of William ‘Count’ Basie on display at the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center last week. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, built to honor a pioneering African-American journalist with Red Bank ties, plans to spotlight the borough-born musical giant William ‘Count’ Basie through 2020.

The occasion is the 85th anniversary of the formation of the Count Basie Orchestra, which is still touring 36 years after its founder’s death.

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RED BANK: A BASIE HOMECOMING

ScottyBasieNYVScotty Barnhart and the Count Basie Orchestra make a too-rare and much-appreciated return to the historic venue that bears the name of the fabled Kid from Red Bank this Sunday, with the New York Voices making themselves heard.

“I called him the Chief,” said Count Basie Orchestra conductor Bill Hughes from the stage of the Count Basie Theatre, during a 2004 salute to the late and legendary William “Count” Basie. “He was ‘Bill’ to the well-to-do; ‘Count’ to the common folk… and to the pimps and hustlers he was simply BASIE.”

The baton’s since passed to trumpeter and bandleader Scotty Barnhart, but when the Basie Orchestra returns to Red Bank this Sunday, March 1, it’ll be picking up where it left off: celebrating the legacy of the fabled “Kid from Red Bank” in a too-rare match-up with another long-running institution that bears his brand.

Scheduled as a 3 pm matinee (or “3 O’Clock Jump,” in the pioneer swing pianist’s parlance?), the March 1 concert teams the CBO with a relatively young musical organization that bridges the perceived gap between the 1930s-’40s golden age of American jazz, and the globally savvy sounds of the new millennium — New York Voices.

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