By JOHN T. WARD
The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, built to honor a pioneering African-American journalist with Red Bank ties, plans to spotlight the borough-born musical giant William ‘Count’ Basie through 2020.
The occasion is the 85th anniversary of the formation of the Count Basie Orchestra, which is still touring 36 years after its founder’s death.
By JOHN T. WARD
It may always be best known to locals as ‘the Basie,’ but Red Bank’s oldest and most prominent entertainment venue is nothing if not prolific with monikers.
On Friday, yet another new one went up on the Monmouth Street marquee that bears the name of the town’s most famous son.
Louie Armstrong and Count Basie, who shared the grooves of many a compilation but never made a record together, are among the topics at a new slate of free TALKIN’ JAZZ events that begin tonight. Below, the Basie bust at the Red Bank train station.
April is National Jazz Appreciation Month, and here in Red Bank, birthplace of the great William “Count” Basie, jazz sounds the keynote for a recently minted (and minty-cool) tradition: an annual Talkin’ Jazz slate of edu-taining presentations, brought to you by the borough-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project and hosted by that homegrown organization’s artistic director, internationally noted music scholar, conductor and arranger Joe Muccioli.
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.
Scotty Barnhart and the Count Basie Orchestra make a too-rare and much-appreciated return to the historic venue that bears the name of the fabled Kid from Red Bank this Sunday, with the New York Voices making themselves heard.
“I called him the Chief,” said Count Basie Orchestra conductor Bill Hughes from the stage of the Count Basie Theatre, during a 2004 salute to the late and legendary William “Count” Basie. “He was ‘Bill’ to the well-to-do; ‘Count’ to the common folk… and to the pimps and hustlers he was simply BASIE.”
The baton’s since passed to trumpeter and bandleader Scotty Barnhart, but when the Basie Orchestra returns to Red Bank this Sunday, March 1, it’ll be picking up where it left off: celebrating the legacy of the fabled “Kid from Red Bank” in a too-rare match-up with another long-running institution that bears his brand.
Scheduled as a 3 pm matinee (or “3 O’Clock Jump,” in the pioneer swing pianist’s parlance?), the March 1 concert teams the CBO with a relatively young musical organization that bridges the perceived gap between the 1930s-’40s golden age of American jazz, and the globally savvy sounds of the new millennium — New York Voices.