Talkin' Jazz - Jazz Arts Project

Jazz Arts Project Presents Its 10th Annual Talkin’ Jazz Lecture Series

Click here to secure your ticket(s) for April 2017 Talkin’ Jazz.

April is National Jazz Appreciation month initiated by the Smithsonian Institute and established by an act of Congress. It is an annual celebration that pays tribute to jazz as an historic and living American art form. Since 2008, Jazz Arts Project has participated by curating a series of lectures and Q & A panels featuring noted jazz luminaries and scholars, hosted & moderated by Joe Muccioli, Artistic Director of Jazz Arts Project. This free community event is a great introduction to jazz for novices or a wonderful extension of knowledge for connoisseurs.

  • Monday, April 3, 2017 – 7:00 pm “One for the Count!” — Tribute to Count Basie  Guest Speaker: Darrell Lawrence Willis
  • Monday, April 10, 2017 – 7:00 pm “Mulligan Stew” — The Life & Music of Gerry Mulligan — Guest Speaker: Sanford Josephson
  • Monday April 17, 2017 – 7:00pm “100 Years of Ella!” — Guest Speaker: Champian Fulton


Monday, April 3, 2017 – 7:00 pm “One for the Count!” — Tribute to Count Basie  Guest Speaker: Darrell Lawrence WillisIMG_2711

Jazz icon, Count Basie, was born William James Basie August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey. Count Basie is considered one of the greatest bandleaders of all times. He was the arbiter of the big band swing sound and his unique style of fusing the blues and jazz forms established swing as a predominant music style. Basie changed the jazz landscape and shaped mid-20th century popular music, duly earning the title “King of Swing” because he made the world want to dance.

The Count Basie Orchestra had a slew of hits that helped to define the big-band sound of the 1930s and ’40s. Some of their notable chart toppers included Jumpin’ at the Woodside, April in Paris, and Basie’s own composition, One O’Clock Jump, which became the orchestra’s signature piece.  Basie and his Orchestra appeared in five films, all released within a matter of months in 1943: Hit Parade, Reveille with Beverly, Stage Door Canteen, Top Man, and Crazy House. He also scored a series of Top Ten hits on the pop and R&B charts and earned nine Grammy Awards making history in 1958 by becoming the first African-American to receive the award. He has had an unprecedented four recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame – One O’Clock Jump (1979), April in Paris (1985), Everyday I Have the Blues (1992), and Lester Leaps In (2005), along with a slew of other awards and honors not only for his music, but for his humanitarianism and philanthropy around the world.  The Count Basie Orchestra played command performances for numerous kings, queens and presidents, and issued a large number of recordings both under Basie’s name and as the backing band for various singers, most notably Frank Sinatra.  Some argue Basie made some of his best work during the 1960s and ’70s Shiny Stocking, L’il Darlin, Corner Pocket, and even a hit single, Everyday I Have the Blues, with Joe Williams. During this period he also recorded with music greats, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson.

Basie died April 26, 1984 in Hollywood, FL but his legacy is still swinging strong.

About the Speaker: Darrell Lawrence Willis

Mr. Willis is a professional actor, with over forty (40) years of experience, and over one-hundred stage and screen roles, to his list of acting credits.  He is a native of Long Branch, New Jersey, and a graduate of Long Branch Senior High School, Class of 1970.  Mr. Willis is also a graduate of Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, with a B.A. in Communications and Theatre Arts, Class of 1974.  In addition, Mr. Willis, holds an M.A. In Theatre Studies, Class of 2005, from Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, New Jersey. He is also a Board Member, of the Count Basie Theatre, and the Monmouth County Arts Council.  Mr. Willis recently retired, as an Adjunct Professor of Theatre, from Brookdale Community College, Essex County College, and, Ocean County College.  His areas of specialization in the theatre are:  Acting, Directing, Shakespeare, Theatre History, Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, and, August Wilson.

Mr. Willis had been selected to portray Count Basie himself for a special theatre piece specifically written for a bus-in show for young students that was performanced earlier today on the main stage of the Count Basie Theatre.

sjphotoMonday, April 10, 2017 – 7:00 pm “Mulligan Stew” — The Life & Music of Gerry Mulligan — Guest Speaker: Sanford Josephson

In the pantheon of jazz, Gerry Mulligan represents not one, but two major voices. He is not only one of the inarguably historic voices on the baritone saxophone, but he is also a major arranger who wrote for some of the major big bands and his own recordings, not to mention the game-changing 1949 Birth of the Cool recording which is often credited only to Gil Evans but also featured Mulligan’s arranging voice.

Sanford Josephson is the author of Jeru’s Journey: The Life and Music of Gerry Mulligan (Hal Leonard Books), published in October 2015, and Jazz Notes: Interviews Across the Generations (Praeger/ABC-Clio), published in June 2009. He has also written extensively about jazz musicians in publications ranging from the New York Daily News to American Way magazine. He serves on the board of the New Jersey Jazz Society and is a contributing editor to Jersey Jazz Magazine. He also curates the “Music in the Moonlight” jazz series at the Luna Stage in West Orange, NJ, and produces the Flemington, NJ, segment of the Central Jersey Jazz Festival. In July 2016, he retired as director of public relations and development at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, a special hospital and educational facility in Peapack, NJ, for children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities. He and his wife, Linda, reside in Manchester, NJ.


champian_eyes_closedMonday April 17, 2017 – 7:00pm “100 Years of Ella!” — Guest Speaker: Champian Fulton

Let’s celebrate Ella’s legacy of songs! Ella sang everything. Every kind of music. She started out as a Big Band Singer, hitting the charts with the popular tunes of the thirties and forties. Ella was the greatest female interpreter of American Popular Song. She revolutionized the music world with her perfect pitch, melodious voice and her unforgettable ability to “scat”.  She sang Jazz using her voice like one of the instruments in the band.  Through the many decades of her performing career she recorded countless albums including her beloved “songbook” series.

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia.   After a long career, that included 13 Grammy Awards, countless Downbeat Jazz Awards, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of the Arts (and many, many others), Ella performed her last concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991.  She passed away in her Beverly Hills home on June 15, 1996 due to complications from Diabetes.

Champian Fulton

A mainstay on the vibrant New York Jazz scene and the finest clubs and concert halls around the world, Champian Fulton she has performed with musical royalty such as Lou Donaldson, Frank Wess, Eric Alexander, Buster Williams, and Louis Hayes.  From New York to Barcelona, Champian’s swinging style and charismatic performances have made her a guardian of the legacy of Jazz.  Jazz education is also a concern near and dear to Champian’s heart, having been inspired by the late Great Clark Terry’s tireless advocacy for the perpetuation of the craft. Clark coached her on rehearsal techniques, performance etiquette, private teaching, and the business of the Jazz. She strives to impart this unique knowledge to students around the world. In addition to her involvement in the Litchfield Jazz Camp and the Rutgers Jazz Institute, Champian is an integral part of our Jazz Arts Academy faculty.


Here are some of Jazz Arts Project’s speakers from previous years:

  • “The State of Jazz”  Dorthaan Kirk and Sheila Anderson, two venerable personalities from WBGO Jazz 88.3
  • “Jazz Jokes and Anecdotes” with Master Bassist and author Bill Crow
  • “What A Wonderful World” Ricky Riccardi Project Archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum
  • “Improvisation and Education with venerable saxophonist and Jazz Arts Academy instructor Bruce Williams
  • “Mary Lou Williams – The First Lady of Jazz” with Vincent Pelote from the Institute of Jazz Studies
  • “Jazz Clubs then and now”  with veteran musician and club owner of Cecil’s jazz club Cecil Brooks III
  • ‘From Russia with Love”  with Russian born trumpet artist Valery Ponomarev
  • “A Great Day In Harlem”  discussing and showing of that historic film documentary film
  • “Ragtime” with specialist and Eubie Blake Protege´ Terry Waldo
  • The Quintessential Charlie Parker” with jazz historian, radio personality and raconteur Phil Schaap
  • “Jazz and the American Culture” with Musician/ Educator/ Author – Warren Smith.
  • The Ellington Mystique” with Duke Ellington’s grandson Edward Kennedy Ellington
  • “Listen” with Ed Berger, Associate Director of The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.