Jazz icon Count Basie honored with exhibit in hometown of Red Bank
One of the most accomplished musicians to ever come out of New Jersey is being honored with an exhibit in his hometown of Red Bank.
Jazz icon Count Basie’s music has touched generations of fans.
“Our house was jumping on Saturday morning. It was jumping,” says "A Love Letter to Count Basie" curator Gilda Rogers.
Rogers says that she remembers her grandmother cooking breakfast as Basie’s recordings were played. She has curated the exhibit to mark the 85th anniversary of when he founded the orchestra that carries his name.
“When I hear Count Basie’s music, it brings me back to a real fond memory,” Rogers says.
But more than his music, the exhibit traces Basie’s life from his birth just after the turn of the 20th century to his artistic awakening in New York during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.
“A period when African Americans thrived. Not just made it, but it enhanced the entire cultural landscape of the world, not even just the country,” says Alan Burgess, an artist who created a piece for the exhibit.
Basie grew up on Mechanic Street in Asbury Park. Part of the street is now named in his honor. Red Bank’s Basie Center for the Arts is also named after the Grammy winner. Basie’s career spanned some 60 years, and he performed all over the world.
The exhibit includes personal items that belonged to Basie on loan from the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.
The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center in Red Bank opened the exhibit on Friday. It was delayed for several months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will continue into next year.
The Count Basie Orchestra continues to perform more than 35 years after Basie's death. More information on the exhibit at the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center and how to see it can be found on the center’s website.