RED BANK: BIG BAND HOSTS BIG TROMBONE

Conductor Joe “Mooche” Muccioli with the “freight train” that is the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, which takes to the Count Basie Theatre boards for the first in a new series of themed concert events Sunday.

By TOM CHESEK

Red Bank doesn’t have riverboat casino gambling. There’s no year-round Santa Claus Village no go-kart track. You’ll need to head way out of town to take a winery tour, or find a decent shad festival.

What the town does have is its very own Red Bank Jazz Orchestra — a 17-piece organization of “first call” cats that’s a source of some pride for the borough that birthed the great William “Count” Basie, and the envy of pretty much anyplace this side of Lincoln Center.

Conducted by Red Bank’s own Joe Muccioli — globe-trotting jazz scholar/arranger/bandleader, and artistic director of the borough-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project — the RBJO is identified most closely with the Sinatra Birthday Bash, the annual event that commandeers the Count Basie Theatre for a tribute to the Chairman of the Board. The momentum generated by those Sinatra salutes over the course of the past six years (and the collective itch by the assembled players to do this more than once or twice a year) spurred the man they call “Mooche” to look into starting up a series of showcase concerts starring the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra — a slate of events that would team the RBJO with special guest performers, and spotlight great composers or classic musicians.

This Sunday afternoon, February 24, the first of two scheduled Jazz Orchestra events at the Basie gets underway, when intrepid trombonist Wycliffe Gordon joins maestro Mooche and the gang for a happening that’s being called nothing less than “a soulful journey through jazz history.”

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