William “Count” Basie was born on August 21, 1904, in Red Bank, 117 years ago. To celebrate the consummate orchestra leader, the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center will showcase live jazz on the front lawn of this historic site. Performing on his birthday, from 6-8 pm will be “Music Beyond Measure,” with jazz vocalist Tamara Williams. If you’re into jazz, come out and be a part of the festivities. The $25 admission price includes viewing the Cultural Center’s current exhibit: “A Love Letter to Count Basie: From The Great Migration to The Harlem Renaissance.” Tickets can be purchased by logging on to basiebirthdaybash.eventbrite.com
The legacy of Count Basie lives on as the orchestra which bears his name is in its 86th year and is still touring and performing. Basie was the first African American male to win a Grammy in 1958, along with Ella Fitzgerald, the first African American woman to take home the coveted award. He was a revered jazz pianist and composer and always found time to come back home to Red Bank, to lend his celebrity to charitable causes. He was very good friends with the Drs. Parker Family and supported many of the civic causes that were dear to the family.
The “Love Letter to Count Basie,” exhibit was a collaboration with the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers/Newark, who are the wards of the Count Basie Collection of artifacts. How did the “Count” get that moniker? When you step inside the Cultural Center you’ll find out. It’s going to be a great night of jazz, history and celebrating William “Count” Basie. Seating will be provided or bring your own lawn chair if you so desire.
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