2016 MSM Jazz Festival Registration

MSM Jazz Festival- Friday and Saturday, February 26-27, 2016

On the weekend of February 26-27, 2016, the Moores School of Music will welcome some of the finest jazz ensembles, educators, and performers from around the country to Houston. The two-day event is packed with school performances, masterclasses, and special concerts by visiting artists alongside the Moores School Jazz Orchestra and Ensemble. Guest Artist Paul Mckee (trombone) will present two FREE clinics at noon each day. He will also appear in concert on Saturday, February 27 at 7:30 PM alongside the Moores School Jazz Orchestra. Local Houston Jazz Artists will join the Moores School Jazz Ensemble on Friday, February 26 at 7:30 PM for a concert as well.


Due to the University of Houston being chosen as a debate spot for the Republican Party during the weekend of February 26-27, the Moores School Jazz Festival will take place in downtown Houston at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (Zilka Hall). The festival will function as normal in this new location for the year, and more information will be communicated about details closer to the event. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to host the festival in addition to other events on our campus.


Please follow the link below to preliminary registration for the 2016 MSM Jazz Festival. Upon receipt of this information, we will communicate with you regarding payment, performance and festival details, and any other questions you may have. We look forward to seeing you in February!

Registration for 2016 MSM Jazz Festival


17th Annual UH Jazz Festival Results

Thank you to all the schools that participated this year in our jazz festival. While we consider this festival a chance for everyone to play, learn, and work with our guest artist, there are bands and musicians to recognize.


Outstanding Middle School of Friday: Hamilton Middle School

Outstanding High School of Friday: Spring High School

Outstanding Soloist of Friday: Jerome Gillespie (HSPVA I)


Outstanding Middle School of Saturday: Quail Valley Middle School

Outstanding High School of Saturday: Dekaney High School

Outstanding Soloist of Saturday: Steven Perez (Dekaney)


Outstanding Middle School of the Festival: Quail Valley Middle School

Outstanding High School of the Festival: Dekaney High School

Outstanding Soloist of the Festival: Joel White (Spring)


We would also like to recognize Shelley Carrol for his amazing work with the festival and his concert Saturday night. Thanks to our judges Dr. Woody Witt, Dr. Aaron Lington, and Dr. Armin Marmolejo along with all the staff at the University of Houston for helping us with the logistics of the festival. This was a great year for the UH Jazz Festival and we are looking forward to next year!

America’s Jazz Royalty: Duke Ellington and Count Basie

Duke Ellington and Count Basie defined jazz in the 1930s and continued their presence into today.  These two masters broke away from the dance band mold to find a sound so different, their styles have become standard performance practices of every big band today.  Duke, with his well-known musical partner, Billy Strayhorn, went on to write countless classics and many artistic endeavors into musical suites for big band.  Count Basie’s laid back feel and stylistic innovations led his career from a riff band into an iconic figure of jazz.

Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra, with special guest Tianna Hall, will pay tribute to Duke Ellington and Count Basie.  The music will focus on transcriptions, recreations, and tributes to the two band leaders.  Although it would be wreck less to perform every hit song from both composers, the song selection is designed to highlight the hits and the beautiful, lesser known compositions of their catalogues.

*Purchase tickets by clicking here, concert will start at 7:30pm in the Moores Opera House.


Tianna Hall


Tianna Hall is a 33 year old, three time Grammy recognized vocalist based in Houston, Texas. She attended the University of Houston where she majored in Vocal Performance and worked professionally in musical theatre and opera for many years before focusing her craft on vocal jazz.  She was mentored by composer, arranger, and jazz pianist Paul English, who helped her begin her career in jazz in 2004. She quickly became and continues to be Houston’s busiest and most sought after jazz vocalist.

Past performance venues include Minute Maid Park for the Houston Astros, Robertson Stadium for the Houston Dynamo, Jones Hall for the Progressive Forum’s presentation of both Garrison Keillor & Frank Rich, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts’ Theater District Open House Presentation for the City of Houston, two appearances on the late night Houston Television Variety show for the arts The After Party with Ernie Manouse, and two appearances with commentator Eric Ladau on KUHF’s 88.7 FM. She also works as a studio session vocalist in every genre for many professional Houston recording studios.

October 8th, 2014: The Modernists

Come celebrate the works of some of the greatest saxophonists: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, and Michael Brecker.  Our guest artists, Dr. Woody Witt and David Caceres, and the Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Noe Marmolejo, will perform works that defined eras of jazz history.  From “Anthropology” to “Moment’s Notice” to “Isotope” and to “Song for Bilbao”, you we experience the evolution of modernists in the bebop era, the hard bop era, the avant-garde era, and the progressive era.  We hope to see you there and have a chance to hear Houston’s finest saxophonists pay homage to Parker, Coltrane, Henderson, and Brecker.

*Purchase tickets by clicking here, concert will start at 7:30pm in the Moores Opera House.

Dr. Woody Witt


Dr. Woody Witt is a Professor of Music at Houston Community College and an Affiliate Artist (jazz saxophone) at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Woody holds a Masters degree in Jazz Studies from the prestigious University of North Texas.  Witt received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston in 2000.

Woody is an active performer and composer as well.  He has 8 CDs to his credit as a leader and has done over 30 recordings as a sideman.  Most of his CDs feature original compositions and have received airplay around the US and abroad.  His latest recording, “Pots and Kettles,” made the CMJ (#3) and Jazzweek charts.   Woody has two new CDs on Blue Bamboo Music, a duo project with pianist, Joe LoCascio covering the music of Billy Strayhorn- released Spring 2014- and a quartet recording covering music of French Impressionist composers- to come later in 2014.

As a jazz artist, Witt has had the opportunity to perform and record with some of the best practitioners of the art form including Randy Brecker, Billy Hart, David Kikoski, Harvie S. and Tim Hagans among countless others.

David Caceres


Popular music has known many “double threats”. The ability to both play and sing has positioned numerous jazz artists for stardom, going back to Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, on through Nat King Cole, Chet Baker, George Benson, and more current examples such as Harry Connick, Jr., Jamie Cullum, and Esperanza Spalding.

However, Houston-based vocalist/saxophonist David Caceres offers a rare combination: a soulful, emotive voice with the potential to connect with a varied adult audience and the skills as an alto saxophonist to go toe-to-toe with the best players of his generation. Indeed, Caceres’s raw talent and natural charisma make him a sure bet to cross boundaries and unify audiences. Of course, this embarrassment of riches presents an obvious challenge: How can these diverse talents come together to create a focused presentation within a singular point of view? With David Caceres, this uniquely talented artist answers this question definitively and with great passion and vision.

Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with the MSM Jazz Department

April 16th, 2014: The Great American Songbook


photos together


The Great American Songbook is a collection of music written from the 1920s until the 1950s. Some of the greatest composers in American history, writing for Broadway, theater, and Hollywood, dedicated their lives for the sake of entertainment. During this timeframe, Alec Wilder created a list of the top composers: Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, and Harold Arlen. On April 16th, 2014, the Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra, with special guests Tianna Hall and Henry Darragh, will highlight some of the notable songs of the Great American Songbook with narration by Donna McKenzie. While the orchestra performs, we will tell the story behind the music with a collage of photos highlighting the composers, shows, and special moments tied to the songs. It is a night to enjoy this timeless music while learning more about the history of the the Great American Songbook.

*Purchase tickets by clicking here, concert will start at 7:30pm.



 April 17th, 2014: MSMJO at Discovery Green

Da Camera of Houston Jazz Jam




Da Camera Jazz Jam on April 17th, 2014 will feature the Moores School of Music Jazz Program. The night will start with the Moores School of Music Jazz Combo featuring Trent Minter, Alex Winkler, Gerald Massoud, and Daniel Webbon. This group focuses on more modern repertoire by The Bad Plus, Haitus Kaiyote, and original music written by the ensemble. Following will be the Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Noe Marmolejo, performing an eclectic assortment of music from jazz standards to modern funk. The night of music is free and will be located at Discovery Green in downtown Houston (1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010).

*For more information about Discovery Green and Da Camera of Houston Jazz Jam, click here. Concert starts at 6:30PM.



April 25th, 2014: MSMJO at Katy Jazz Festival

The Katy Jazz Festival, April 25th and 26th, 2014, is hosted by the Katy Independent School District and is in its 6th year. The purpose for this event is to increase exposure, education, and entertainment of the jazz music medium. The event is designed to benefit participating student jazz groups, individual student musicians, jazz music educators, and to provide top quality jazz performances to the community. The Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra will be performing Friday, April 25th, 2014 at 7:30pm with guest artist Andy Martin.

Andy Martin

Andy Martin Photo

While breathing fresh air into the traditions of past masters such as Carl Fontana and Frank Rosolino, jazz trombonist Andy Martin leads today’s sought after ‘bone’ players as the go-to musician for both Hollywood blockbusters soundtracks and traditional ensemble settings. Having performed at the Grammys and Emmys as well as with legends including Lou Rawls and Sammy Nestico, Martin is a first choice artist on the American west coast for bebop and a wide range of styles. In a celebrated career that also includes playing Dixieland music in Disneyland, appearing in Quincy Jones’ band, and over one hundred and fifty motion picture soundtrack credits, Andy Martin is sure to continue as a trombonist in demand.

For more information for the Katy Jazz Festival and tickets, click here. Concert starts at 7:30pm.

The 16th Annual Moores School of Music Jazz Festival

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Featuring: Brad Leali

Brad Leali

The Moores School of Music Jazz Festival features performances from middle and high schools throughout the day as well as two free clinics with Brad Leali and the Jazz Orchestra at noon each day. No admission fee is required to observe these school performances or clinics.

*Purchase tickets to all evening events by clicking here, concert will start at 7:30p.

Click here for more information on the festival, including schedule, ticket information and details on how your school can participate.

Brad Leali has been referred to as one of the most important voices on the alto saxophone of his era. This Denver native has and is still enjoying an extremely successful career in music. Having received his music education degree from the University of North Texas, in which he performed and recorded with the world renowned One O’clock Lab Band. Leali went on to play lead alto saxophone with the Harry Connick Jr. Orchestra in 1989 and served as musical director from 1990-1994. During this period, he relocated to New York City and established himself as a major voice in the highly competitive jazz community and was a staple in legendary jazz venues like the Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Iridium, and Birdland. In 1995, Leali joined the Count Basie Orchestra, under the leadership of Grover Mitchell. This band won a Grammy for their 1998 release, Count Plays Dukefor “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance”. On this recording, Brad also received a Grammy nomination for his solo work on the Billy Strayhorn composition, “Star-Crossed Lovers”.

While still a member of the Count Basie Orchestra, Leali released his first solo recording, Priority Soul! in 1998, before departing from the orchestra in 2000 to focus on his career as a soloist. His discography since then includes Live in Europe (2004), Brooklyn Soul Organization (2004), the critically acclaimed Maria Juanez (2006) featuring his own compositions with jazz orchestra and DA’s Time (2008).

Brad Leali has been a highly sought-after clinician, travelling internationally to many schools & festivals to teach students of all ages. He was the Founder/Director of The Brooklyn Jazz Coalition, a member of IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators), Director of the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz All-Stars, as well as being a clinician and performer for many of their conferences. Brad Leali has been a professor of jazz saxophone and director of the Three O’Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas since 2008. Professor Leali’s philosophy on jazz is very simple and straight forward.  “I want everyone to enjoy jazz music – not just jazz musicians.  I teach my students to play music, not just the notes, and in their search for creativity, to never forget their audience.”

Friday, February 28, 2014

Featuring: The Impressionist Project &
MSM Jazz Ensemble


Impressionist Project Group Photo JPG




The Impressionist Project began as a collaboration lead by French pianist Franck Amsallem.  Their repertoire focuses on adapting music of the French Impressionist period for a traditional jazz quartet.  Franck Amsallem and Woody Witt were awarded a French American Cultural Exchange Grant in 2010 to continue their work.  Soon after, Witt commissioned several composers and arrangers, including Mark Piszczek, Robert Nelson, and Rich DeRosa, to assist with building the ensemble’s repertoire.  The ensemble toured in Texas and France while recording select pieces for future release.

After the last tour, award-winning pianist and composer Bill Cunliffe has stepped in to the piano chair for Amsallem.  Cunliffe’s apprearance at the MSM Jazz Festival will also be the debut of his arrangement of Frederick Delius’ “On Hearing The First Cuckoo in Spring.”  In May of 2014, DaCamera will present Nelson’s “Hommage a Ravel” opposite a performance of the original Ravel Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano.

The MSM Jazz Ensemble will be opening up for The Impressionist Project with a few big band standards under the direction of Noe Marmolejo.



*Purchase tickets to all evening events by clicking here, concert will start at 7:30p.

November 11-15, Jazz Artist Residency with trumpeter Terence Blanchard

From November 11-15, our Jazz Artist Residency welcomes renowned trumpeter and composer, Terence Blanchard.  Blanchard visited MSM once before in February 2000, on the heels of his Wandering Moon album. His quintet’s one-night performance at our jazz festival left our audience stunned and we are thrilled to have him back! This time around, Blanchard has just completed his first opera commission (Champion) and his latest jazz release (Magnetic), showing no signs of slowing down or artistic complacency. For our residency, our students will be the fortunate benefactors of his methods on improvisation, composition and performance.

Click here for the full schedule of activities
The concert will take place Friday, November 15 at 7:30p *

*This is a ticketed event, use promo code “celebrate” for a 10% ticket discount.


All Jazz Artist Residency events are for the purpose of musical education and are therefore open to the public at no cost, unless otherwise noted. We invite all music educators and students to come take part in an inspirational week of jazz.

Jazz at the movies and a collaborative concert

At the MoviesNext week will feature not just one, but two evenings of our big bands in action.

On Tuesday, October 8, we are taking the audience to the movies with us as we celebrate jazz in film. This concert will feature the MSM Jazz Orchestra playing some of the most well-known music from our favorite movies accompanied on the big screen by highlights from each film. Click here for tickets.

Wednesday, October 9 will showcase our MSM Jazz Ensemble in a joint concert with the MSM Symphonic Winds and Symphonic Band. This combination of classical and jazz styles has been a favorite of audiences in the past so we are very enthusiastic to bring it back. Whether you are a fan of big band jazz or classical music, you will not be disappointed. Click here for tickets.

Each concert begins at 7:30p in the Moores Opera House
Click here for further venue information and driving directions.

First concert of the season to feature “Jazz at the Movies”

This is going to be a big one.

From the first talkie to the sulky background music of film noir, jazz and American movies really do go hand-in-hand. Jazz music and jazz artists have played an important role in America’s popular culture, as motion pictures have documented for generations of audiences, so our season opener on October 8 will celebrate jazz in film. “Moores School of Music: Jazz at the Movies” will feature not only the well-known classics, but also offer some new arrangements and different interpretations of classic film scores for big band. All this (and some other surprises) will help bring the movies to life in a unique concert experience that you won’t want to miss.

October 8, 7:30p
Moores School of Music Opera House
You can buy tickets online here or at the box office on the evening of the concert

Program is as follows (in no particular order):

“As Time Goes By” – arr. Don Schamber (from Casablanca)
“Blues in Hoss Flat” – Frank Foster (from The Errand Boy)
“Cinema” – arr. Ryan Gabbart (featuring themes from Taxi Driver, You Only Live Twice, Chinatown, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)
“Film Noir, Part II” – Chris Walden
“Moon River” – arr. Frank Mantooth (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
“Salsation” – arr. Horace Alexander Young (from Saturday Night Fever)
“Sherlock Holmes” – arr. Gerald Massoud (from Sherlock Holmes)
“Sunny Ray” – Ray Santos (from The Mambo Kings)

2013 Texas Music Festival Jazz Institute takes place June 9-14

We’re nearly there: summertime. The Moores School of Music summer schedule always starts with the Texas Music Festival. While the majority of TMF  is a workshop for college-level musicians, the jazz department will again host our annual  jazz institute for high school students.

The TMF Jazz Institute is a week-long, intensive program for younger players with an interest in learning about and performing jazz music. Students are given the chance to rehearse and workshop with some of the best professional musicians from across Houston culminating in a big band performance under the direction of MSM Director of Jazz Studies, Noe Marmolejo.

In addition to daily rehearsal, our afternoon class schedule includes:

  • Instrumental sectionals with Houston’s top professional jazz players
  • Music theory: the building blocks of music, learning jazz nomenclature, chords and scales
  • Jazz improvisation: applying theory to your instrument, learning basic soloing techniques
  • Masterclass jam sessions where our talented faculty gets a chance to show off their skills in an unrehearsed concert

We are always excited to be able to offer this course each summer.  The TMF Jazz Institute is a great way for any aspiring  young musician to get ahead in their pursuit of a musical career.

For details and application information, click here.