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: BASIE (AND JOHNNY), 365

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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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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