Jazz Jam! (featuring video)
In Houston, Texas–not exactly the music capital of the world, although one of my favorite pianists Joe Sample calls it his home town–I listened to a local NPR show during which the host reviewed a chamber music concert he had attended at Rice University.
The concert had been organized around a number of professional classical musicians who had never played together before and were asked to perform a series of classical pieces. The results were supposedly amazing and created a completely new and fresh approach towards the music. He went on to explain how jazz musicians work and how the Houston jazz scene comes together once in a while to improvise and jam. His conclusion was that playing together with people you have never played with before creates an atmosphere of incredible creativity and mutual respect among the musicians, something that is seldom experienced when listening to established groups or bands.
It is not my intention to brag about my recent experiences at Phil & Derek’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, in Houston’s River Oaks area, but the warm and enthusiastic response that I get when I’m there makes me want do it all the same! This charming little cottage–converted to a southern food restaurant–houses the coolest jazz club in the south. The Monday nights are hosted by the tireless and sympathetic T.R. Reed, who is the master of ceremonies for an incredible show of extremely talented musicians. Not only the core from Houston, but there are many visiting from other parts of the country and even overseas. T.R. is the man, and he puts a lot of work into getting this “Monday Nite Jazz Jam” together, with an overhead screen of famous old film recordings, ranging from Art Tatum via Cab Calloway to early Miles and Herbie Hancock. Recently, he and his program have been recognized by the Smithsonian Institute as an American jewel. To read more about this 60-year-old Houston tradition, click here.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure and honor to sit in with the “Straight-No-Chaser Jazz Ensemble.” Please, check out this iPhone recording that someone in the audience made and sent to me. And make sure to visit Phil & Derek’s on your next Monday night in Houston to hear some great, accessible and respectfully played jazz…..
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