RED BANK, NJ: Red Bank is truly blessed with some of the nicest parks in state. 

Several situated along the Navesink River, a few in the middle of neighborhoods, and even a couple of “pocket parks.”

Each, in their own way, are truly gems.

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A lot of residents may not even be aware that some of these parks exist, or even their location.

TAPinto Red Bank will be offering a series of articles on the Parks of Red Bank.

As winter kicks in and the pandemic threat continues, it’s important to get out of the house, not only for the exercise, but for your sanity.

Johnny Jazz Park is one of those “pocket parks” located at the crossroads of Dr. James Parker Blvd. and Shrewsbury Avenue.

It’s a cool little park and aptly named.

Ralph J. Gatta, known an “Johnny Jazz” was born in Red Bank in 1937, graduated from the high school in 1955 went into the army serving on a classified base stationed in Greenland.

Gatta lived his whole life in the borough taking over the family’s meat and grocery business at the age of 26 after the death of his father, John Gatta.  The emporium was located at 135 Shrewsbury Avenue and is now occupied by Floreria La Orquídea, a florist shop catering to the local Spanish population.

He was one cool cat, playing the jazz music he loved loudly throughout the neighborhood.  The business became known as the “Johnny Jazz Market.”    

Pictures, actually monuments to Mr. Gatta's heroes, the masters of jazz were hanging throughout the store. Many of the great jazz artists visited the store once word went out about this true jazz aficionado.

He became an ambassador to the people of the West Side of Red Bank, generous to a fault, helping out people who could not pay for groceries.

 A 1995 New York Times article quoted him as saying, “For a small town, that's one thing Red Bank has always had. Hip cats, you know?"

Johnny Jazz made Red Bank Cool, before it was Cool.

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Know a local story we should share with readers?  Email Editor E. Scott Wingerter and tell him about it