In the beginning… JAZZ!
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Early in 2006, artistic director Joe Muccioli approached several community members, friends and acquaintances for help in forming a new organization. His vision was to operate at a regional and local level, serving the community by presenting professional performances showcasing top flight national and international jazz artists who dedicate their lives to this art form. In addition he wanted to build an audience who could appreciate this artistry and develop youth outreach and education programs as an advocate for the jazz arts. Building upon his own professional relationships in the industry, Joe convinced many of his friends and colleagues to venture down to Red Bank and perform at the various events. Over the years scores of top flight jazz artists have either performed for or heard about JAZZ ARTS PROJECT presentations and cherish the opportunity to play in our venues. They like that the audience is respectful and appreciative. People really listen and that means a lot to an artist who’s last gig may have been in a restaurant, club or lounge where the patrons don’t even notice.
“A lot of thought goes into our presentations,” says Muccioli, “We try to make the audience and the artists comfortable and appreciated. We publicize the events with full credit to the musicians and we note their credentials and bios wherever possible. We make sure that the acoustics, the decor and the ambiance is as perfect as we can get it.”
The first project was Summer Jazz Café at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. The program offered an exciting selection of jazz performers on Friday and Saturday evenings in an intimate cafe’ setting in this new state-of-the-art, non-profit theater. These smaller ensembles offered a wide variety of performers to begin the process of not only developing an audience, but also to educate the community as to the wide variety of jazz genres. This series continues to this day and has proven itself by consistently producing high quality and memorable events.
That first year the finale’ of the series was the debut of the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, which would become the flagship ensemble of Jazz Arts Project, conducted by Artistic Director, Joe Muccioli. The August event was entitled “A Taste of Red Bank – A Taste of Jazz,” a fundraiser for the Monmouth County Arts Council. The Orchestra featured a roster of top professional musicians and played for a large crowd on the plaza in front of Two River Theater. The jazz was free to the public, while those who wanted to sample Red Bank’s numerous restaurants purchased tickets to enjoy the tasting menus. The musical program of the 16-piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra presented 2 hours of classic jazz compositions by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and others…performed by top industry professionals.
Next, Jazz Arts Project was invited by the Two River Theater Company to present an educational offering, a jazz history lecture prior to each performance of TRTC’s production of the Broadway musical, Ain’t Misbehavin. Jazz Arts Artistic Director Joe Muccioli offered an entertaining multi-media talk about the history of jazz and of Fats Waller, whose music was the basis for the musical. This event was not only educational and informative about jazz, but also supported the educational goals of the Two River Theater and of this new organization.
In December, 2006 Jazz Arts Project produced it’s first main-stage production presenting its flagship performance ensemble, the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, at the larger Joan and Robert Rechnitz theater at the Two River Theater complex. A Holiday themed presentation the group performed Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker, the suite of original Tchaikovsky themes adapted with Billy Strayhorn. This rarely performed suite is just one of many American jazz classics created by Ellington and Strayhorn, thus achieving our goal of perpetuating jazz classics. Joining us in performance was the Pilgrim Baptist Church Choir, also helping us to achieve our goals of diversity and community involvement.
The following evening the same program was presented at the historic Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park as the kick-off of a new “Jazz-Alive” series, which is collaboration with the Monmouth County Arts Council and The Black Box Theater of Asbury Park. This concert entitled “Cool Yule” was presented as a free holiday gift to the community.
As a part of this “Jazz Alive – Asbury Park”series, in February, 2007, J.A.P. presented the brilliant young alto sax player Bruce Williams and his quartet. In April our offering was The Wayne Goodman / Carl Maraghi Quartet, showcasing the classic arrangements of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. Both events were presented at the Joyful Noise Café – located on the historic West side of Asbury Park, a neighborhood where nearly all the jazz greats performed in the years between 1940 and 1960.
Our final event in this Jazz-Alive series took place during the Asbury Park Jazz Festival on June 30th where Jazz Arts Project sponsored and presented the Claudio Roditi “Samba-Bop” quintet.
More to come…