College ready to welcome distinctive jazz performers

Classic jazz performers have found a new venue at the Fine Arts Center at Ocean County College, Main Campus, College Drive, Toms River,. Fans of jazz, swing and blues will be entertained by a variety of shows planned for January through April.

The Ronny Whyte Trio in Concert: Gershwin, Sinatra and More will perform Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. With achievements as a singer, pianist, songwriter, and actor, Ronny Whyte has performed for audiences throughout New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Jazz guitarist Brian Betz will take the stage on Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 (including a Meet the Artist Reception). Betz has worked with jazz greats Maynard Fergeson, James Moody and Byron Strippling. He has performed with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at coffeehouses and clubs throughout the New Jersey and Philadelphia area.

A winner of the 2004 Betty Carter International Jazz Competition, Betz currently teaches at the New Jersey School of Music and is an adjunct professor of guitar at Monmouth University, West Long Branch.

Veteran musicians will perform as part of the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. The Harlem Blues and Jazz Band stars veteran jazz and blues musicians whose roots reach back to the 1920s and 1930s. Together since 1973, the originals actually “jumped” at the Woodside and “stomped” at the Savoy with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Fats Waller, Louis Arm-strong, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton and other jazz greats.

The OCC Fine Arts Center is also announcing its new series, MidWeek Jazz, which brings acclaimed artists playing classic jazz and swing to Ocean County.

The Midiri Brothers‚ a Benny Goodman tribute, will take place Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door and $13 if purchased in advance by phone or mail. Joe Midiri (clarinet) and Paul Midiri (vibes) bring their swing sextet to celebrate the anniversary of Benny Good-man’s landmark Carnegie Hall concert.

Randy Reinhart Plays Bix Beider-becke, March 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door, $13 if purchased in advance by phone or mail.

Noted trumpet player Randy Reinhart salutes the birthday of jazz icon Bix Beiderbecke, the acclaimed “young man with a horn” whose innovative solos changed the way jazz was played. His all-stars include pianist Mark Shane, trombonist Herb Gardner, and more.

Guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli’s Trio will perform April 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door, $13 if purchased in advance by phone or mail.

Jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli has performed around the world, and continues to even at age 80. His “first call” trio includes pianist John Bunch and bassist Jay Leonhart.

For tickets to any show, call the OCC Fine Arts Center box office at (732) 255-0500.