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The Club Car

THE CLUB CAR

At Mara's... Sweet, Savory and Seasoned with Jazz

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On a Friday night at Mara's Café and Bakery in Berkeley Heights, you can satisfy several cravings at once: Answer the dinner bell, soothe a sweet tooth and hear eight New Jersey locals wail at some not-so-standard jazz tunes. The octet is Jazz Lab 6+2, which began as a sextet, then added two more players. These are serious and gifted multi-instrumentalists who burn to share what they've concocted in their laboratory. Jackson Liu, Mara's owner, gave them free rein over ...

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Ruby Lee's Dishes up Blues, Jazz and Soul Food

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Three-year-old Ruby Lee's, on the quieter north end of Hilton Head Island, SC, serves up the blues, jazz and soul food. That mix helps set the venue apart from more than 300 restaurants vying for the patronage of the resort town's 39,000 residents and some 2.5 million annual visitors. Proud matriarch and head chef Deborah Govan, who offered these stats, told me that since she founded the place named after her mother in 2013, Ruby Lee's has climbed ...

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Due Mari Joins the New Brunswick Jazz Project

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Thanks to the efforts of three friends, Virginia DeBerry, Jimmy Lenihan and Mike Tublin, creators of the New Brunswick Jazz Project, it's getting harder to dine out in that Middlesex County city without hearing some jazz. The Hyatt Regency, Tumulty's Pub, The Garden State Ale House and Esquina Latina all offer jazz on a regular schedule. Since last May, add Friday nights at Due Mari to that list. Due Mari is a modern Italian restaurant on Albany Street ...

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Sun and Stars at Montclair Jazz Festival

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At the 2015 Montclair Jazz Festival, the sun broiled and the stars sparkled over some 6,000 jazz fans, that number announced by emcee Gary Walker, a popular WBGO radio on-air personality. Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor S. Epatha Merkerson, best known for her 17 seasons as Lieutenant Van Buren on NBC's “Law and Order," was back as the festival's Mistress of Ceremonies. The annual one-day event, free to all comers, was held at Nishuane Park and produced by the ...

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A Stable of Percussionists at the Barnes Foundation

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Tony Miceli, A-list vibes player and creator of the online Vibes Workshop, is a generous man. He shared his recent First Friday gig at the Barnes Foundation on Ben Franklin Parkway in jny: Philadelphia with a round-up of the Malletech company's stable of mallet masters. After brainstorming with Leigh Howard Stevens, owner of Malletech, the two came up with an array of percussionists across genres--chamber music to jazz--to share with foundation members and guests. They included jazz vibes ...

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The Hunterdon Hills Are Alive With Jazz

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The town of Clinton in the green, rolling hills of Hunterdon County, NJ, celebrated her 150th birthday last May and, for an old lady, she looked downright spry. Town planners observed the sesquicentennial with a jazz quartet they know well. Guitarist Arturo--he goes by his first name--and some iteration of his group play the outdoor gig on Main Street every other Friday evening in the summertime. On this Sunday afternoon, the cordoned-off streets gave way to a canopy underneath which ...

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Jazz Cruising: A Recipe For Joy

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Blend well: One mid-sized cruise ship with crew 100 or more jazz legends, go-to guys and young lions About 2,000 diverse jazz fans Assorted performance venues, about half a dozen One big band A small army of piano tuners Ports of call (optional) Top with musician interviews and jam sessions Best enjoyed hot Destinations hardly mattered on the annual Jazz Cruise hosted by Entertainment Cruise Productions this past January. In ...

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The Frank Giasullo Quartet Raises A Good Question

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There were few people sitting at the bar when Michael and I entered the Lafayette Bar in Easton, PA, on a recent Saturday night. We went straight to the rows of nearly empty tables in front of the stage. There we spotted some friends and sat down to talk while the band sound-checked with Marcus, the full-time sound man. Then Tunsei, the owner, came to sit in front where he could let out his “I like it" with ...


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