RED BANK: JAZZED AND ENCHANTED

Master of ceremonies Bob Tuzzo (above) and the Belle Tones (below) are among the performers joining Joe Muccioli’s Red Bank Jazz Orchestra Saturday night at the Two River Theater.

The partnership of the borough-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project with the Count Basie Theatre has yielded some swingin’ly successful results, from the young-musician Jazz Arts Academy to April’s recently wrapped Talkin’ Jazz series; and from December’s annual Sinatra Birthday Bash to other big-stage events showcasing our very own Red Bank Jazz Orchestra.

That said, just as Red Bank’s connection to America’s classical music is bigger even than the legendary “Kid from Red Bank” Count himself, so too does the Jazz Arts brand bust out of the boundaries of the Basie from time to time — witness the summertime slate of open-air concerts at Riverside Gardens, or the Summer Jazz Cafe series that candle-lights up the warm weekend nights at Two River Theater.

This Saturday night, the organization under the artistic direction of conductor-arranger-scholar Joe “Mooche” Muccioli returns to the Two River stage for the latest edition of what’s fast become a rhythmic rite of spring — the fundraiser concert event known as ‘An Enchanted Evening of Song.’

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RED BANK: A MOST JAZZY SINATRA BASH

don-most‘Happy Days’ cast member turned crooner Donny Most, above, joins Rat Pack legend Dean Martin’s daughter Deana, below and the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra at the Basie Sunday.

deana-martinJersey guy Francis Albert Sinatra: his birthday is marked every December with merriment and song, and perhaps nowhere more so than here in the heart of downtown Red Bank. And why not, given that we’re home to a hallowed hall christened in memory of one of the Chairman of the Board’s partners in pop perfection: piano player, bandleader and “Kid From Red Bank” Bill “Count” Basie.

Each year our own Joe “Mooche” Muccioli — noted conductor, arranger, scholar and artistic director of the nonprofit Jazz Arts Project — fires up the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra for a grand concert that salutes the signature songs and style of Sinatra with the help of some special guest vocalists.  Read More »

RED BANK: THAT’S SOME ENCHANTED EVENING

Khadijah MohammedKhadijah Mohammed, above, and Livia Tedesco, below, are among the performers joining Joe Muccioli’s Red Bank Jazz Orchestra Saturday night at the Two River Theater.

livia tedescoOther burgs may jostle for the “music city” label, but when it comes to jazz on the Jersey Shore, no other town can boast the William ‘Count’ Basie-birthing pedigree and passionate preservationism of Red Bank. And no one has worked harder to keep that cool blue flame burning than the people of the Jazz Arts Project.

The borough-based nonprofit that gave us the annual Sinatra Birthday Bash, the Summer Jazz Café, the Talkin’ Jazz series and our very own Red Bank Jazz Orchestra have another, recently minted tradition here in the waning days of daylight-savings time. And when conductor-arranger-artistic director Joe Muccioli and the RBJO take the stage at Two River Theater this Saturday night, they’ll be compensating for that lost “spring-ahead” hour by living large during the third annual event known as An Enchanted Evening of Song.

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BIG NEA AWARDS TO TWO RED BANK VENUES

Louis Prima JrNext-generation swing-music wildman Louis Prima Jr. and his Witnesses will perform at the Count Basie Theatre in spring 2016, as part of an enhanced Jazz at the Basie slate funded by an Art Works grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Two River Theater also received an NEA grant, toward the development of a new musical. (Photo by Mitchell Glotzer)

From press materials issued by The Count Basie Theatre and Sen. Bob Menendez

Two major nonprofit arts entities in Red Bank have been named as recipients of a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Art Works award for 2015. The Count Basie Theatre and Two River Theater were among 15 New Jersey-based organizations awarded a total of $290,000 toward the development of original arts programming; part of a 51st annual slate of NEA grants totaling $27.7 million and supporting more than 1,100 projects in 49 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

The NEA’s Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields. Two River Theater Company was recipient of $20,000 to support the development and funding of The Ballad of Little Jo, an original musical featuring lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger and music by Mike Reid (A Wind in the Willows Christmas), as well as supplementary education programming (discussions, student matinees, classroom teachers’ guides) that focuses on the women of Frontier America.

In celebrating its namesake, the Basie will use its $15,000 NEA grant to help produce a series of programs and activities celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month, with jazz-related lectures, films and biopics scheduled to take place throughout April 2016. On May 19 the celebration will continue with a jazz-centric edition of the Count Basie Theatre’s “No Shush!” kid’s concert series, starring Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses, as well as the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra under the direction of conductor Joe “Mooche” Muccioli, artistic director of the Jazz Arts Project at the Basie’s Performing Arts Academy. Proceeds from that performance — and a donation from the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, named for Prima’s late mother — will match the NEA gift.

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RED BANK: A VERY GOOD YEAR FOR FRANK FANS

PicopoFloydDeanaJersey guys Joe Piscopo and Uncle Floyd Vivino join Dino’s daughter Deana Martin for a special Sunday afternoon Sinatra Centennial Birthday Bash.

In case you haven’t heard, December 12 marks the 100th anniversary of the humble Hoboken debut of Francis Albert Sinatra — the beyond-iconic “Chairman of the Board” whose birthday is the second most celebrated such affair on the twelfth-month calendar page.

It’s an occasion that’s being observed in swinging style from “New York, New York” to “”LA Is My Lady” and every casino cocktail lounge, piano bar and pizzeria in between — with a certain house right here in Red Bank a crucial part of the proceedings.

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RED BANK: AN ‘ENCHANTED’ ANNIVERSARY

Enchanted_Evening_50Jazz chanteuse Champian Fulton and Tony Corrao (left)  join host Bob Tuzzo and Joe Muccioli’s Red Bank Jazz Orchestra for An Enchanted Evening of Song, celebrating ten years of Jazz Arts Project excitement with a Saturday night concert at two River Theater.

Hard as it is to believe, it’s been a whole ten years since the nonprofit Jazz Arts Project first formed in Red Bank, with the aim of fostering  an appreciation of “America’s classical music,” here in the borough that birthed the legendary Count Basie — to say nothing of giving fans of sophisticated swingin’ sounds an excuse to get dressed up and dig some local events with a big-city vibe.

Since that time, the Jazz Arts org has made a big, bold, glorious noise courtesy of concerts starring the flagship Red Bank Jazz Orchestra and its skipper, conductor-arranger-artistic director Joe Muccioli. Not content to offer just a couple of shows each year, Jazz Arts has stayed busy around the calendar, with annual offerings like April’s Talkin’ Jazz lecture series, the Summer Jazz Cafe at Two River Theater, and December’s Sinatra Birthday Bash at the Count Basie Theatre. In addition, the Project continues to nurture the next generation of monster talents, through its educational partnership with the Basie, and its Head Start-style programs (such as an ongoing endeavor with the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County) that gives kids from at-risk and challenged communities the tools and the skills they need to make life-changing music.

In March 2014, Jazz Arts Project took to the Two River stage for the first in a new series of special concert events entitled An Enchanted Evening of Song — and when “Mooche” and members of the RBJO reconvene on Bridge Avenue this Saturday night, March 7, they’ll be reuniting with featured stars of last year’s show in a swingin’ gala affair that celebrates the milestone anniversary of a real community resource, and a genuine class act.

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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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WEEKENDER: A NOT YET WINTER WONDERLAND

lennon 120513 4The 33rd anniversary of John Lennon’s death finds a traveling exhibit of the Beatle’s artwork camped out in Red Bank.

Friday, December 6:

RED BANK: In the midst of the holiday cheer, this weekend marks the 33rd anniversary of the murder of John Lennon — and it so happens that the traveling “pop-up gallery” exhibit titled “The Artwork of John Lennon” will be stationed in downtown Red Bank for the occasion. Featuring prints and some 100 pieces from the Lennon collection, the show parks it at 21 Broad Street (formerly Agostino Antiques) for three days beginning December 6. Take it here for a redbankgreen feature with complete schedule details and more.

SHREWSBURY: It’s a rare opportunity to get a close-up look at the buildings in the borough’s state and national designated “Four Corners” Historic District, as the Monmouth County Historical Association conducts Holiday Lantern Tours in the area of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue. Tours commence at 6 pm and 8 pm, with reservations required ($15 adults; $8 ages 12 and under) available at (732) 742-1277. Christ Church will be serving up dinner (Moravian Chicken Pot Pie!) with seatings at 5 pm and 7 pm, for an additional $10.

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RED BANK ORK’S GOT PLENTY OF GERSHWIN

Grammy-nominated trumpeter Jon Faddis inaugurates a new series of “Talkin’ Jazz” events at the Count Basie tonight — then joins the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra this Sunday for a salute to George Gershwin.

By TOM CHESEK

April, in case you didn’t know, is National Jazz Appreciation Month, and here in the borough that birthed the great William “Count” Basie, a man called “Mooche” is preparing a savvy smorgasbord of treats for classic jazz buffs and curious cats alike.

It’s a pollen-cloud of activity that goes up this evening, April 9, with the first in an annual slate of Talkin’ Jazz presentations.

Hosted by globe-trotting jazz scholar/arranger/bandleader Joe Muccioli at the Count Basie Theatre, the free series kicks off with a presentation by trumpet ace Jon Faddis at 7 p.m. The Grammy nominee makes his first of two appearances this week on the Basie stage, with a discussion of “Legacies and Legends in Jazz: from Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis and Beyond” that’s capped by a screening of Bird — director Clint Eastwood’s 1988 biopic of Parker, with Forest Whitaker in the title role and Faddis featured prominently on the movie’s soundtrack.

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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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…AND YOU CAN TELL ‘EM “JOE SENT ME”

Jazz scholar/ WBGO disc jockey Gary Walker and guitarist Vic Juris are among the special guests TALKIN’ JAZZ with Joe Muccioli, in the series that returns to the Count Basie’s Carlton Lounge for three Mondays beginning tonight. 

Start Joe Muccioli to talking and he’ll tell you that “Jazz…grew up with America. It symbolizes American democracy.”

“You put several people into a place, a situation, and you honor all of their abilities, but at the same time you have rules, an underlying structure…a constitution,” he says.

A Red Bank resident and the artistic director of the borough-based nonprofit  Jazz Arts Project, the man they call “Mooche” has done a lot of talking, studying, teaching and listening on the topic of jazz — and he’s walked the walk as well, having traveled the world conducting, arranging and working with everyone from Joe Piscopo to the London Philharmonic.

Here in the borough that birthed William “Count” Basie, we know Muccioli as the maestro behind the annual Sinatra Birthday Bash events at the  Count Basie Theatre; as the co-founder of the Jazz Arts Academy program; as the host of the way-cool Summer Jazz series at Two River Theater — and as leader of the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, the 17-piece organization that issued its maiden recording Strike Up the Band in 2011.

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