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Musical Firsts

Jazzy Jersey

Singers and Symphonies

Rock Stars




Coloring Book Pages (pdf):

Jaypeg playing a flute

Jaypeg playing a drum

Karpok playing a triangle

Zeero meets "The Boss"



Jazzy Jersey
April 2002

Newark was a stop on the road to stardom for many jazz musicians. In the early 1900s, jazz legends practiced their skills in nightclubs like The Alcazar and The Piccadilly Club before going on to greater fame in New York City.

Many of the famous "Harlem Stride" piano players performed in Newark. A "Stride" player played with his left hand continuously to keep the beat. James Johnson of New Brunswick was among the first of these jazzmen. His most famous work is "The Charleston." Willie "The Lion" Smith, Thomas "Fats" Waller, and Donald "The Lamb" Lambert are among the other famous Newark jazz pianists.

Red Bank native William “Count” Basie is recognized as one of the most influential musicians in jazz history. Count Basie linked jazz to other kinds of music such as swing and the blues. An accomplished jazz pianist and bandleader, his most famous songs include One o’clock Jump and Jumpin’ at the Woodside. The Monmouth Arts Center in Red Bank was renamed Count Basie Theatre in 1984 to honor this legend.

Dizzy Gillespie was one of the great showmen in jazz history. Known for his puffed-out cheeks and upturned horn, the Englewood resident was one of the most innovative trumpet players in history.

Jazz musicians performed not only in Newark but also in many clubs throughout the state. Atlantic City was Newark's closest rival in attracting top quality performers. While not known for its clubs, Camden was home to the famous Victor Talking Machine recording studio, where many musicians made their early recordings. Today, jazz is still an integral part of New Jersey's music scene.

Next: Singers and Symphonies

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