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.

Concert with Wayne Bergeron, April 26

As if our semester wasn’t already loaded up with impressive guest artists

The trumpet powerhouse that is Wayne Bergeron will be visiting Houston this week to perform with the MSM Jazz Orchestra at the Katy Jazz Festival on Friday, April 26 at 7:30p. Wayne Bergeron stands out as a god among regular trumpet players for his extraordinary abilities as a lead player, soloist and session musician working in the recording and film industry. If you have watched a major motion picture or live television in the past twenty years, there is a good chance that you are already familiar with Bergeron’s trumpet solos. His website boasts a healthy resume of his credits. Here’s an example of another day at the office for Bergeron as he overdubs a solo for “Scooby Doo”:


As always, we are honored to be able to perform with a masterful musician. Bergeron’s presence and his years of professional experience are essential to our students’ education. We are fortunate to be able to provide an evening of first-class entertainment with such talented musicians for you to enjoy.

Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra with Wayne Bergeron
Friday, April 26 at 7:30p
Katy Jazz Festival (ticket info / map)
Quantum Mechanics opens

Program is as follows (in no particular order):

Woody’s Gold Star – John Fedchock
A Game of Inches – Gordon Goodwin
Friend Like Me – arr. Bill Liston
High Clouds & A Chance of Wayne Tonight – Tom Kubis
You Go to My Head – J. Fred Coots, arr. Tom Kubis
Farewell to BirdlandNeal Finn
Besame Mucho – Consuelo Velázquez, arr. Steve Wiest

April 9-16, Vacek Jazz Artist Residency with Bill Evans

From April 9-16, our Vacek Jazz Artist Residency welcomes the great saxophonist, Bill Evans.  The last time Evans visited MSM, he gave a thrilling performance at our 2009 jazz festival. He made such an impression on our students and guests that the jazz department has been eagerly anticipating his return ever since. This time, he will be expanding on his methods of improvisation and performance practice with our students for a whole week. His latest efforts in jazz education can be found at Truefire as part of their ongoing lessons and workshop series. Here’s a clip:

We could not be more happy to welcome Bill Evans back to MSM and we hope that you will take part in making his residency an educational and joyful one.

The concert will take place Tuesday, April 16 at 7:30p

Click here for the full schedule of activities

All Vacek 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.