The New Brunswick Jazz Project

The New Brunswick Jazz Project

Pandemic restrictions got you down? As humans, we all share a common consciousness after all, and music is one thing that brings us together.

So if you’re a self-proclaimed bluesman or blues woman and think you don’t like jazz – a very broad scope of music – you ought to at least look into the free music that’s going on in New Brunswick. Thanks to three dedicated volunteers who launched the New Brunswick Jazz Project in 2010, and thanks to Mayor Jim Cahill, there’s free music, now under ventilated tents, to soothe your soul and calm your mind.

The New Brunswick Jazz Project was co-founded by Virginia DeBerry, James Lenihan and Mike Tublin. The informal group quickly got 501-C-3 non-profit designation and earned the endorsement of Mayor Cahill, who understands the role the arts play in keeping a small city vibrant and economically healthy, as New Brunswick has so many restaurants, and in recent years, new housing and new residents.

As of this point, with the resurgence of COVID-19 in many municipalities around the Garden State, NBJP shows are scheduled through the end of December. The group maintains a good website and all shows and show times are posted there. Patrons may also sign up for the group’s e-mail blasts to stay thoroughly apprised. Unlike in years past, parking in New Brunswick is easy on Thursday nights, Fridays and weekends, and if you have to use a parking deck, you can usually get your ticket validated for discounted parking, i.e., $2 as opposed to $6 or $8.

In the last two weeks, my spirits were brightened – yes the shorter days get to all of us, one way or another – by excellent shows by German raised Brazilian jazz harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens and his trio, and, on the afternoon of Sunday Nov. 15, an excellent three sets by the Hoboken-based Swingadelic group, joined by saxophonist Jerry Weldon. Swingadelic’s music is all over the map and includes Great American songbook standards, New Orleans associated tunes by Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and others, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll as well as traditional jazz from paragons like Ellington and Basie.

To be sure, one thing that separates the New Brunswick Jazz Project from other ventures like it that have fallen by the wayside is the level of commitment DeBerry, Tublin and Lenihan bring to their volunteer work. Musicians are expected to arrive early and do proper sound checks and the trio works with the musicians in tweaking things so they know how they’ll sound before the first notes are played. Also, the group’s website is updated weekly and they’re religious about sending out their e-mail blasts on time and with accurate information.

In a 2012 interview for U.S. 1 Newspaper of Princeton, DeBerry explained, “We thank all of our musicians in our e-mails, because we know they work at a lower rate for us than they do for other places,” De Berry said, while Lenihan added: “We might get away with paying them less money, but we make sure that the venues treat them well and the musicians get fed and get a set break. That goes a long way towards fulfilling our relationships with the musicians.”

New Brunswick Jazz Project Upcoming Shows:

New Brunswick Jazz Project (NBJP)

Information provide by Richard Skelly – JSJBF Board Member