Jazz Arts Project
Aug 21, 2023
A formal dedication of a statue of Count Basie brought Phil Bingham to perform in Red Bank
Red Bank: Monday August 21st 2023
Pianist, Conductor, and Music Education Consultant, Phil Bingham, held down the coveted piano bench and performed for a distinguished, invited crowd at the William and Catherine Basie Arts Plaza during the formal dedication of a statue honoring the great Count Basie. A great friend and donor of Jazz Arts Project, Phil is such a phenomenal musician that he held the attendees rapt attention for more than an hour before the official ceremony and presentations took place. The Event was hosted by the Count Basie Center for the Arts on the day that would have been Basie's 119th birthday. Jazz Arts Artistic Director, Joe Muccioli, arranged for the pianist to perform and was present for the ceremony. "It was so fitting that a masterful artist such as Phil was on hand to offer a hint of what the music of Red Bank's favorite son means to us and to the world, " Muccioli said, "it was quite a fitting tribute."
Master sculptor Brian Hanlon who created the statue lead the dedication, along with remarks from Jeremy Grunin, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the Basie, and Wayne Winborne, Executive Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University-Newark.
Refreshments were served including an open bar and even a commemorative birthday cake at the conclusion of the ceremony.
The “Kid From Red Bank” – global jazz legend and hometown hero William “Count” Basie
William Basie was born on Mechanic Street in Red Bank on August 21, 1904. His father, Harvey Lee Basie, was a coachman and caretaker; his mother, Lillian Childs Basie, was a laundress, taking in washing and ironing. The family always owned a piano, and Lilly Ann paid twenty-five cents per lesson to teach William to play. As a bit of local lore, Joe Muccioli adds the story about Mechanic Street "at some point when the bandleader was more famous and successfully touring, the Count wanted his father to have his own house and promised to build one for him. It turns out Basie ordered a whole house kit from Sears and Roebuck and had it delivered and assembled where it still stands today at 229 Mechanic Street."
Over a sixty-plus year career, William “Count” Basie helped to establish jazz as a serious art form played not just in clubs but in theaters and concert halls across the world. He established swing as one of jazz’s predominant styles and solidified the link between jazz and the blues, performing for everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to John F. Kennedy during his storied career. He earned the admiration of fellow iconic musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and Billie Holliday, and earned a brand of fame so influential that it seemingly defied the lines of segregation that existed for much of his career.
For more information on William “Count” Basie, visit https://thebasie.org/countbasiebio