ON THE GREEN: SUMMER PARK ACTIVITIES

rb rgp yoga 091615 3Yoga, Pilates and zumba share a Wednesday night rotation schedule in Riverside Gardens Park. Below, vocalist Layonne Holmes joins the New Standard for a free concert there Thursday night. 
Layonne Holmes New Standard

Whether you’re on stay-cation — or simply navigating your way through daily life here in on the Greater Red Bank Green — there’s no denying that July offers a fairly awesome menu of open-air entertainments and recreational options. We’ve got a rundown of outdoor events — mostly free of charge — designed to entice you out of the house in the coming midsummer nights and days.

It all starts tonight, July 12, as Shore Flicks returns to Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens with an 8:15 p.m. screening of the gleefully anarchic animation “Minions.” Bring a canned food donation with those folding chairs and beach towels, and enjoy some ice cream from the newly opened Gracie and the Dudes stand in the park. Take it to our redbankgreen roundup for details on the entire summer screening schedule and weather-related updates. Then take it around the bend for more fun and adventure beneath the summer sun and stars.

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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: WRAPPING UP A JAZZY JULY

LayonneFaddisLayonne Holmes leads the New Standard Jazz Ensemble in a Thursday local debut at Riverside Gardens. Trumpeter Jon Faddis plays the Two River Theater’s Summer Jazz Café Friday.

Whether you’re a serious jazz aficionado – you know, the kind who hears a record and can name the session date, all of the players, and what they had for lunch – or simply one who digs all that a sophisticatedly swinging set does to the general mood, you’ve got to appreciate the fact that it’s been a July to remember, jazzwise, in Red Bank.

This weekend sees the final entry in the 2015 Summer Jazz Café series at Two River Theater, while the music plays on at Riverside Gardens during the free Thursday night slate of Jazz in the Park concerts; all of it programmed by borough-based Jazz Arts Project and artistic director Joe “Mooche” Muccioli.

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RED BANK: GET OUT AND STAY OUT

Motor CityLayonne Holmes (right) and the Motor City Revue roar into Sandy Hook as the up-next act in the summer beach concert series. Weather permitting, Tuesday night marks the twice-scheduled debut of Red Bank’s Dog Days of Summer.

rb dogs 061714 6[UPDATE, July 20, 2 p.m. Once again, the Dog Days event is being postponed, this time because of high temperatures, RiverCenter announced. The event is tentatively scheduled to be held Wednesday, July 22, at 6 p.m.]

Gripe all you will about summer traffic, summer crowds, summer expenses: the season for warm-weather diversion can seem especially fleeting when viewed through the frosted panes of our extended polar-vortex winters. And between Tuesday evening and Thursday afternoon, we’ve got a whole range of excuses for getting out of the house, beginning with the latest in the 2015 series of Red Bank Dog Days of Summer .

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RUMSON: IT’S ANOTHER TEQUILA TWILIGHT

rb bird 1 061313Under the musical direction of Jeff MacPherson — seen here with a dove friend at his Red Bank home in 2013 — a flock of local musicians, including Pat Guadagno, below, pays tribut to the Eagles with the annual Twilight Concert at St. George’s in Rumson Saturday. 

patguadagnobobfestaThe season-spanning month of March, with its slow but inexorable forward-march toward the promise of longer days and languid twilights, has quietly nurtured a tradition that doesn’t always make the short-list of events here on the Greater Green. But savvy Shore area music fans know to mark it on their calendars.

Returning to St. George’s by the River Episcopal Church in Rumson for its 19th annual edition, the 2015 Twilight Concert commandeers that local landmark for an evening of rock-for-a-good-cause on Saturday.

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RED BANK: SHERMAN’S MARCH TO THE STAGE

Lisa ShermanRumson-based Songbird and dynamic entertainer Lisa Sherman reclaims the Basie stage this Saturday, for a boundary-busting sonic salute to DECADES OF DIVAS.

Once or twice each month, you’ll find her at the Walt Street Pub and other fave watering holes of the Jersey Shore barscape — giving ten thousand percent to intimately scaled houses, in front of bands like Sherman Mack (the classic rock project she co-founded with ace blues harmonicat Sandy Mack). But place Lisa Sherman on the stage of a grand old auditorium like the Count Basie Theatre, and the delightfully unexpected happens — the saloon singer trades her jeans for a gown, and spreads her wings as a “Songbird” of rare versatility and dynamic presence.

The Rumson-based Sherman, whose previous Songbird showcase concert events at the Basie proved to be fast favorites with area audiences, returns for another encore this Saturday night, November 8. She’ll be dressing for the occasion, naturally, and will be marshaling the requisite precision team of awesomely accredited musicians. This time, she’ll be bringing along some reinforcements as well — the collective spiritual guidance and channeled energies of nearly two dozen of the most iconic women in popular music history.

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TONY, TINA, BOBBY, SANTTU-MATIAS & MORE

ChampianTuzzoAbove: Champian Fulton, Bob Tuzzo and Tony Corrao take the bandstand when the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra presents “An Enchanted Evening of Song” at Two River Theater. Below, twentysomething European conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali makes his NJ Symphony debut at the Basie. 

Friday, February 28:

SantuRED BANK: While it admittedly ain’t Shakespeare, the interactive “environmental” phenomenon known as Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding can be said to be one of the most influential theatrical offerings in a generation — even indirectly spawning a stroll-through spin on Macbeth at a seedy Manhattan hotel.

Beginning tonight, and continuing for four more performances this weekend, lovebirds Tony Nunzio and Tina Vitale repeatedly renew their vows in a production presented by the Count Basie Theatre — hosted NOT at the venerable Monmouth Street venue, but practically next door, at the nearby Buona Sera Ristorante. It’s there that guests can “eat, drink, dance, converse and get caught up in the festivities” as they stand in for Tony n’ Tina’s various extended family members and frenemies. The comedy and the comedic “drama” unfold with seatings at 7:30 pm Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday, and 12 and 6 pm. Sunday. Tickets ($100) include the ceremony, reception, baked ziti dinner, champagne toast, wedding cake, music and dancing. A $150 VIP option includes a “classic Italian meal and seat up close to the action.” Check here for reservations, close to selling out as we post this — and toss that bouquet for some more great catches and matches, as we Mach it into March.

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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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SWINGING INTO SINATRA AT A BASIE BASH

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

rbjo-cd-coverPerhaps 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 Sinatra’s 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.

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