RED BANK: PARK IT HERE, JAZZ LOVERS

johnny jazz park 051115 1John Gatta wields giant scissors as he dedicates the new park named for his late brother, Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta Jr. (seen below), as Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer applauds. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

ralph johnny jazz 2006 1For 47 years, while cutting meat and selling boxes of rice and cereal, Red Bank butcher Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta Jr. preached the gospel of an American musical art form he deeply loved, and wanted his customers to hear as he heard it.

On Monday night, borough residents showed they had heard, and had been touched by both his love of jazz and his generosity as a grocer.

At a brief ceremony tinged with fondness, humor and a bit of live jazz, the site at the corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard was named in honor of the late jazz-enthralled butcher.

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RED BANK: PARK TO GET JOHNNY JAZZED UP

rb jazz 082214 2ralph johnny jazz 2006 1Anyone who ever had the pleasure of getting an earful of bebop – and a history lesson in jazz – while picking up a pound of ground chuck at the now-gone Johnny’s Jazz Market in Red Bank should consider stopping by the pocket park on Shrewsbury Avenue at Drs. James Parker Boulevard tonight at 6:30 p.m.

That’s when borough officials will officially rename the park for the late butcher and irrepressible jazz maven Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz‘ Gatta Jr., who ran the shop for almost 50 years – always with his beloved jazz playing in the background.

Gatta, a lifelong borough resident, died in 2011. The park is the site of a series of summer jazz concerts hosted by the borough.  (Photo above by Trish Russoniello; below, by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

RED BANK: PARK TO HONOR JOHNNY JAZZ

ralph johnny jazz gatta 2006

By JOHN T. WARD

rb jazz 082214 1 He presided over what had to qualify as one of the quirkiest neighborhood grocery stores in the history of retailing, let alone Red Bank.

Now, four years after his death, the beloved jazz-enthralled butcher known to all as “Johnny Jazz” is to about to get a neverending solo.

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RED BANK: STATION TO BE NAMED FOR O’HERN

rb station 112514 1The Red Bank train station will be dedicated to the memory of late Mayor and state Supreme Court Justice Dan O’Hern. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

After a four-year, $1.6-million facelift, the scaffolding is down at the Red Bank train station, revealing a spiffy new Victorian-era depot.

On Friday, the station will get a new identity to go along with the new roof, restored windows and gingerbread trim.

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O’HERN, AZZOLINA GET NAME HONORS

ohern-stationThe Red Bank train station and the Route 36 Highlands-Sea Bright bridge, below, have new names. (Click to enlarge)

azzolina-bridge1

Two prominent pieces of public infrastructure – one, some 140 years old, the other brand-new – have officially been renamed for Red Bank-area leaders.

Governor Chris Christie has signed bills naming the century-old Red Bank rail station for the late borough mayor and state Supreme Court Justice Daniel O’Hern and dubbing a new bridge across the Shrewsbury River for the late  Joe Azzolina, the longtime state Assemblyman from Middletown.

State Senator Jennifer Beck, who pushed for both, announced the changes Monday.

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