keith marks 082214“Pied Piper of Jazz” Keith Marks keynoted a new slate of free outdoor jazz concerts on August 22 — a Count Basie 365 Cultural Series that continues Friday evening with vocalist Valarie Adams and showband.

Like a lot of institutions in the town that birthed the great “Count” Basie, it honors the “Kid from Red Bank” who became one of the pivotal bandleaders of jazz’s golden age — a living link that’s rooted in a place where the likes of Al Wright and Joe Muccioli continue to uphold the tradition.

Continuing for the next three Fridays at West Side Park (aka “the pocket park”) on the corner of Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue (aka DJ2 ‘n Shrew), the third annual Count Basie 365 Cultural Series also pays tribute to a real unsung hero of the art form — Ralph Gatta, longtime proprietor of Johnny’s Jazz Market, and an aficionado whose exuberant passion and expertise on all things jazz were second to no one’s.

A project of the mayor-appointed Red Bank Borough’s Vision Committee, the series kicked off on August 22 with a concert by a frequent summer-season guest performer — jazz flautist Keith Marks. The music resumes on September 5 with the return of another staple of summer concert stages, Valarie Adams and the Dimensions, with the dynamic showband bringing their encyclopedic setlist of soul/ Motown/ funk favorites beneath the stars at 6:45 pm.

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rb 135 shrewbury 040914Two years after the death of jazz-crazy butcher Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta, his longtime butcher shop on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank has been gutted and renovated. Building owner Donna Reck tells redbankgreen she’s looking for a tenant for the space, which is zoned for neighborhood business.

What type of business would you like to see there? The street gets lots of motor traffic and abuts an area that’s about to get more than 150 new homes, when the West Side Lofts and Station Place projects are complete. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)