Joe Muccioli (left) conducts the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra in the fifth annual Sinatra Birthday Bash event, Friday night at Basie’s place an occasion that also marks the release of the RBJO’s first CD, below.
By TOM CHESEK
Perhaps the smartest thing that Frank Sinatra ever did in his 82 years on “Frank’s world” was to come out swingin’ into the month of December a cold and sometimes cruel month of holiday pressures and pleasures, to be sure, but also a season of giving in which a new commemorative box set or tribute arrives swaddled in gift wrap at each anniversary of the Chairman of the Board’s birth.
At the Count Basie Theatre that regional headquarters for everything from Scrooge and the Nutcracker to the Messiah and various jinglebell rockers there’s one seasonal signifier that trades the Santa hat for a sportily cocked fedora, and it’s a little local tradition called the Sinatra Birthday Bash.
The brainchild of the Red Bank-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project and its artistic director globetrotting arranger-conductor and jazz scholar Joe Muccioli the annual concert event brings together a marvelous mix of voices with the 17-piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, an organization of sought-after session aces hand-picked and conducted by the maestro named “Mooche.” Best of all, they get to do their thing on the famous stage of the place named for one of Sinatras favorite partners in swing, William Count Basie.
This Friday night, December 9, Muccioli and company celebrate the 96th birthday of “Old Blue Eyes” in a fifth annual Bash program that also marks a milestone for the RBJO the release of the acclaimed orchestra’s first commercial recording.