Updated: Sep 14, 2018
And so it goes... Once again the summer flew by. And once again there was lots of great jazz to hear. Actually, there always is. You just have to know where to look. And thankfully many of our faithful friends and supporters have known to look in our direction for the past 13 years. We formed this organization and planned our very first summer jazz series in 2006. At that time the newly built Two River Theater was just having their first season in a beautiful brand new building on Bridge Ave. in Red Bank. The leaders at Two River asked us if we would like to present some shows at the theater since they did not have any programing scheduled during the summer. As a brand new organization at the time, having just filed all the paperwork in April of that year, it was a challenge for us on such short notice.
We scrambled all of our efforts into putting together seven weekends of Jazz Café nights. That initial series ultimately
has become the inaugural season of a popular annual event at the theater.
We quickly proceeded to purchase 50 folding chairs and built a bunch of café style cozy cocktail tables with table cloths and tea-light candles. The idea was to create a "big-city" club atmosphere presenting world class jazz at a fraction of the big-city price.
We opened the doors and hoped for the best. After a short while word began to spread and soon we were off and running. To this day Summer Jazz Café remains a cultural magnet in the area and, over the years has even been named a "Pick of the Year" by the Tri-City News.
We are proud of this event and we are grateful that you have supported our efforts with your attendance, your good will, and your financial support. This past year, because of several unexpected factors we had to limit the café series to just two weeks in July but we were honored to be welcomed back by the theater in any case.
For the first weekend, Jazz Singer Giacomo Gates mesmerized the audience with his timeless and entertaining vocal prowess, a full-bodied and mellifluous voice, extraordinary rhythmic precision and an unerring sense of lyricism.
And the final weekend kept our tradition of showcasing our talented young students while presenting a world-class jazz artist in an event that we call “Legends and Lions.” The student showcase is a culmination of a week long summer camp of the Jazz Arts Academy which offers comprehensive training in jazz performance and improvisation. It is an outgrowth of many years of providing year-round music education programs to area youth.
The Legends chosen for this year’s Café performance was Piadrum recording artist Winard Harper and his hard swinging sextet Jeli Posse. After putting on what can only be described as an electrifying swinging performance, Winard was so gracious to our students allowing them to come up on stage and perform with his band in a surprise move that literally brought tears to the audience eyes and brought them to their feet in an extended standing ovation at the end.
And that wasn't even close to the majority of the jazz activity going on this summer in Red Bank. A second summer camp that Jazz Arts Project presents lasted two and a half weeks and is geared to students just entering middle school and just beginning to learn how to play an instrument. This free summer camp is designed as a “head-start” style instrumental music program. Hopefully these students can continue their music studies during the school year.
And, for the past few years we have added to the summer jazz scene in Red Bank by partnering with the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department to produce and curate the Jazz In The Park summer series each Thursday in July and August. We were so please to be able to present national and international jazz artists: Paul Jost and his Jost Project, Layonne Holmes & New Standard, Eddie Allen Quintet, Bruce Williams Quintet, Hendrik Murkens Quintet, Valerie Ponomarev Quintet, Stephan Wrembel Group, and the Mike Kaplan Nonet.
And finally our traditional annual meeting and BBQ garden party was held on the labor day weekend. this has been a tradition here at Jazz Arts Project. It is of course an excuse to party but mainly we use the occasion to thank our donors, partners, volunteers, friends and supporters of the organization. Those of you who have been invited should know that we are grateful to you for your friendship and your support.
So it was indeed a whirlwind of a summer for us here at Jazz Arts Project and we hope to continue with more exciting performance programs and continuing education programs for area youth. Somehow we will need to raise enough funds to ensure the future of these programs year after year and so we will no doubt be applying for grants, looking for business sponsors and partners, and asking you the public for your support.
And so it goes.