Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: TD James Moody Jazz Festival, Exit Zero Jazz Festival, more

by JAY LUSTIG
ranky tanky nj

PETER FRANK EDWARDS

Ranky Tanky performs at NJPAC in Newark, Nov. 9, as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival.

This year’s TD James Moody Jazz Festival starts on Nov. 3 and runs through Nov. 19, with shows at NJPAC and other Newark venues. Some of the early offerings include:

• Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.: Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater with pianist Bill Charlap, at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater.

• Nov. 4, 3 p.m.: A WGBO Kids Jazz Concert with Cuban pianist Elio Villafranca and his quartet at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater. They will perform music from Villafranca’s album Standing by the Crossroads, which, according to the festival, “speaks about his life, growing up in the small town of San Luis, Pinar del Río, surrounded by Congolese drums, educated in Russian classical music, while falling in love with jazz.”

• Nov. 4, 8 p.m.: Colombian salsa band Grupo Niche and Dominican singer Héctor Acosta “El Torito” at NJPAC’s Prudential Hall.

• Nov. 5, 2 p.m.: Opening of the “Word to Witness” exhibition, featuring works by artist Kay Reese, at Congregation Ahavas Sholom, with live music and spoken word.

• Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.: The band Ranky Tanky — which hails from the Charleston, South Carolina, area and specializes in the traditional Gullah music of that region — is double billed with singer Lisa Fischer at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater. (see video below)

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Here is a roundup of other arts events taking place around New Jersey, through Nov. 9.

DIANNE REEVES

MUSIC

The Exit Zero Jazz Festival takes place at various Cape May locations, Nov. 9-12, with Omara Portuondo, Abdullah Ibrahim, Meshell Ndegeocello, Etienne Charles & Creole Soul, The Vijay Iyer Trio, Steve Turre Generations, the High & Mighty Brass Band, Brian Betz and others. The opening event, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at Cape May Convention Hall, will feature Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, with guest vocalist Dianne Reeves; this will be a benefit for Cape May Jazz Festival Foundation’s educational initiatives, and also feature a live auction.

• Dr. Richard Kogan, who is both a pianist and a psychiatrist (and who is the artistic director of the Music & Medicine program at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York), will present a concert and lecture titled “The Mind and Music of George Gershwin,” Nov. 4 at 8 pm. at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams will perform in an unplugged trio format in a double bill with The Kennedys (Pete and Maura Kennedy) at an Outpost in the Burbs concert at the First Congregational Church in Montclair, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. For this show, The Slambovian Circus of Dream will be made up of Joziah Longo (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, mandolin, flute) and Sharkey McEwen (guitar, mandolin).

JOHN OATES

• John Oates, of Hall & Oates fame, will present a solo acoustic show titled “An Evening of Stories & Songs” at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.

Singer-songwriter Harry Chapin (“Cat’s in the Cradle,” “Taxi,” “WOLD”), who died in 1981, would have turned 80 in December of 2022, and members of his musically inclined family and his band will pay tribute to him at a concert titled “Harry Chapin at 80: A Retrospective,” Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown. Performers will include his brothers Tom and Steve Chapin, his daughter Jen Chapin, his nieces The Chapin Sisters (Abigail Chapin and Lily Chapin) and Harry Chapin Band members Big John Wallace and Howard Fields.

This year’s edition of the NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance) Music Conference is scheduled for Asbury Park, Nov. 9-12, with most of the activities taking place at the Berkeley Hotel, but some showcases planned for The Stone Pony. Singer-songwriters Crys Matthews and Livingston Taylor will give keynote speeches, and panel discussions will explore topics such as “Contemporary Protest Music,” “Cultivating a Crowd,” “Preparing for a Great Show 101” and “Networking Strategies for Musicians.”

The Adelphi Orchestra will present a concert titled “The Viennese Masters” at the Fair Lawn Community Center Theater, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m., as well as Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Broadway Presbyterian Church in New York. Kyunghun Kim will conduct, Nathan Meltzer will be featured on violin, and the program will include Mozart’s Overture to The Abduction From the Seraglio, Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin in D major, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D major, “London.”

MARIEL BILDSTEN

Trombonist Mariel Bildsten will present a tribute to Count Basie and Duke Ellington, featuring her septet plus singer Imani Rousselle, at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. She will also return to the museum, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., for a program titled “Mariel’s Melodies: Jazz for Kids!”

THEATER

The New York-based The Acting Company will present its new take on Homer’s “Odyssey,” Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Kasser Theater at Montclair State University (as part of the Peak Performances series) and Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Stockton Performing Arts Center in Galloway. This production was inspired by Emily Wilson’s 2018 translation (the first English translation of this ancient Greek epic by a woman) and the Peak Performances website describes it this way: “Four young women, trapped in the limbo of a refugee camp, retell Odysseus’ adventures as they struggle with their own search for a home.”

The Reduced Shakespeare Company, best known for its riotous “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” will perform is “The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged)” — an attempt to “deconstruct the entire history of comedy” in 90 minutes — at The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m.

Montclair State University will present a show by Kyle Abraham/A.I.M. on Nov. 4.

DANCE

• A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham‘s performance in the Peak Performances series at the Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m., will include their 2021 dance piece “If We Were a Love Song” — set to Nina Simone songs such as “Wild Is the Wind,” “Little Girl Blue,” “Keeper of the Flame” and “Don’t Explain” — and other works. (A.I.M. was founded in 2006 as Abraham.In.Motion).

Nimbus Dance will kick off its 2023 season with a program titled “Slow Fade,” Nov. 3-4 at 8 p.m. at the Nimbus Arts Center in Jersey City. Works by Nimbus artistic director Samuel Pott, Japanese choreographer Yoshito Sakuraba and Pilobolus co-founder Alison Chaseby will be performed. In a press release, Pott explained the show’s title by saying it “is all about the purity of stripped-down dance to tell raw and truthful stories — like an early black and white film without special effects, or computer generated images — just exceptional human dancers leaving audiences speechless with their expression.”

New Jersey Ballet‘s “A Night on the Town” program at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, Nov. 4-5 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., will include Jerome Robbins’ “Fancy Free” (set to music by Leonard Bernstein, and the inspiration for the movie “On the Town”) as well as George Balanchine’s “Rubies,” Christopher Wheeldon’s “This Bitter Earth” and Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s “Reencounter.”

JOHN DENSMORE

WORDS

• John Densmore, drummer for The Doors, will make an appearance to promote his book, “Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison’s Legacy Goes on Trial,” Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Bookends bookstore in Ridgewood. The book was originally published in 2013 by Percussive Press but will be reissued, Nov. 7, by Akashic Books.

According to promotional material, it “offers a powerful exploration of the ‘greed gene’ — that part of the human psyche that propels us toward the accumulation of more and more wealth, even at the expense of our principles, friendships, and the well-being of society.

“This is the gripping account of the legal battle to control The Doors’ artistic destiny. In it, Densmore looks at the conflict between his bandmates and him as they fought over the right to use The Doors’ name, revealing the ways in which this struggle mirrored and reflected a much larger societal issue: that no amount of money seems to be enough for even the wealthiest people.”

REVIEWS

“In Whose Image?,” works by Valerie Huhn presented by The Arts Council of Princeton at the Taplin Gallery. (Through Nov. 4)

“A Man for All Seasons” at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University, Madison. (Through Nov. 5)

“Tracy Jones” at Art House, Jersey City. (Through Nov. 5)

“The Great Gatsby” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through Nov. 12)

“Westphalia” at Luna Stage, West Orange. (Through Nov. 12)

“Funny, Like an Abortion” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through Nov. 12)

“Terri Fraser: I Am Here” at Whittemore, Tewksbury. (Through Dec. 9)

“Searching for Drama,” works by Allan Gorman at BrassWorks Gallery, Montclair. (Through Dec. 15)

“It’s Not Paint!,” works by Lisa Lackey at Hillside Square Gallery, Montclair. (Through Dec. 15)

“The Brodsky Center at Rutgers University: Three Decades, 1986-2017” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through Dec. 22)

“Spiral Q: The Parade” at Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton. (Through Jan. 7)

“Local Voices: Memories, Stories and Portraits” at Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton. (Through Jan. 7)

“George Inness: Visionary Landscapes” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 30)

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2 comments

Joe Champion November 3, 2023 - 6:44 pm

Is High and Mighty Brass performing at this event?

Reply
JAY LUSTIG November 3, 2023 - 6:46 pm

They’re on schedule for both Nov. 10 and Nov. 11: https://www.exitzerojazzfestival.com/lineup

Reply

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