JAZZ DECEMBER

Jazz & blues is coming in for December as it has saved the best for last. Frank Sinatra liked to call himself a "saloon singer" — a modest bit of self-description that, by the man who is generally regarded as the greatest interpreter of popular song in history. The occasion of the 95th anniversary of the birth of the Hoboken-born patriarch of pop has a flock of singers from New Jersey and New York poised to pay tribute to Sinatra at Red Bank's Count Basie Theatre on Dec. 10.

The fourth annual Sinatra Birthday Bash features singers backed by the 17-piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, directed by Joe Muccioli. Singing the songs associated with Sinatra, who was born on Dec. 12, 1915, and died at age 82 on May 14, 1998, are John Alden, of the Leonardo section of Middletown; David Arellano, Staten Island; Paul Bernhardt, Toms River; Peter Cafasso, North Bergen; Jerry Costanzo, Port Jefferson, N.Y., Michael Di Maulo, Englewood Cliffs; The Manhattan Dolls, New York; Gayle Scott Hajian and Lou Moneta, New York; Cara Smith, Rumson; Sophia Spector, Oakhurst; and Maggie Worsdale, Jackson.

Billie Holiday once commented that there are two kinds of blues: happy blues and sad blues. Expect the King of the Blues, B.B. King, to serve up more of the "up" variety when he performs at Harrah's casino-hotel in Atlantic City on New Year's Eve. King's once-majestic voice may have taken a beating over decades of nonstop touring, but he can still make his guitar, Lucille, sing.

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