live music

A real live one – The 15th Moores School of Music Annual Jazz Festival

Lew Soloff

Lew Soloff (Photo credit: nadworks)

featuring Lew Soloff

February 22 & 23, 2013

Holy smokes, this is going to be a great one! We are welcoming back the great Lew Soloff to MSM and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Lew gave one of the best performances in the history of our jazz festival the last time he visited in 2004. He is not only a trumpet player of tremendous talent, but also someone who brings some of the best music you will hear performed by a big band. Click here for the write-up by the UH Communication School’s Mike Emery.

Friday evening’s concert will showcase The Texas Music Festival Jazz Project, a big band made up of Texas-based jazz professionals, while Saturday evening’s performance belongs to Lew Soloff with the MSM Jazz Orchestra.* It promises to be an exciting event full of masterful musicianship, education and great jazz. If you are a student, teacher, professional musician or just a jazz fan we guarantee that you will not want to miss this weekend’s activities!

The Moores School of Music Jazz Festival features performances from middle and high schools throughout the day as well as two free clinics with Lew Soloff 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, both concerts 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.


Woody Witt and Joe LoCascio Duo perform Friday, September 21

In 2009, the duo of saxophonist Woody Witt and pianist Joe LoCascio released the album Seasons Ago: The Songs of Alec Wilder. In this volume of rather obscure songs by one of American music’s great composers, the duo sought to explore and offer a wider perspective on Wilder’s work resulting in “ten tracks and ten moments of exquisite melody and harmony”.

This time, the duo are at it again, tackling the music of Duke Ellington’s esteemed collaborator, Billy Strayhorn. Aside from his most popular tunes (“Take the ‘A’ Train”, “Lush Life”), Strayhorn’s repertoire consists of several lesser known wonders. To most jazz aficionados, his ballads “Chelsea Bridge”, “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” and “Isfahan” are probably the most loved. But Strayhorn’s swinging side was nothing to shrug off, as evidenced by the posthumous album …And His Mother Called Him Bill.

Last year, the LoCascio/Witt duo recorded many of these obscure Strayhorn compositions for an album in the same vein as the Wilder songs. While the album is still yet to be released, Friday evening’s concert will offer a great preview of what is to come. The two have played together for the past 20 years and their time together has enabled them to achieve, in Witt’s own words, “a strong level of musical communication. Very seldom do we rehearse for duo performances. Even the [Wilder and Strayhorn] recordings were put together with very little rehearsal time. Joe has really been the musicologist of the duo.  He transcribed all the tunes, for both projects.  Some of the Strayhorn tunes we recorded, I’ve never heard played in a small group setting.”

UPDATE: Read Chris Becker’s profile of Joe LoCascio at Culturemap

The concert takes place Friday, September 21 at 7:30pm in the Moores Opera House. Click here to purchase tickets online.

Spring concert to feature many new works by students and alumni

Aaron Lington Henry Darragh Ryan Gabbart

Spring is here, which means that our concert season and semester are coming to a close here at the Moores School of Music. That’s good news for our students and even better news for our audience. Why, you ask? Because some of the finest performances of the year will close out the season from all departments within the school. If you are able to make it to any of these final concerts, we suggest that you do so! Click here to stay informed.

Coming off a successful and well-attended Jazz Festival, the jazz department’s final concert will feature both jazz ensembles playing a mix of classic and new big band jazz. The concert What we’re most excited about, however, is the inclusion of several new works written by students and alumni of the Moores School of Music.

Last month, Ryan Gabbart was featured as a guest writer for Mike Emery’s blog, Creative Pride, and two of the notable “Jazz Cats” mentioned will have their works performed. Henry Darragh’s “Late Night Latin” is a sizzling latin jazz composition in the traditional style, featuring a big brass sound and exciting soli writing for big band. Aaron Lington’s “Evensong” is a new ballad featuring the baritone saxophone that could best be described as music with a brilliant contemporary jazz sound. In addition to this, Gabbart (also a UH alum) will have his new arrangement of Jimmy Garrison’s “Ascendant” performed.

George Heathco Gerald Massoud

Two current Moores School graduate students will also have their works premiered. Bassist Gerald Massoud’s arrangement of the classic “Besame Mucho” is written big band and a vocalist in a 1950s lounge style, but is updated with a fantastic salsa section. George Heathco’s “Shred!” is a modern, complicated piece based on many new progressive rock styles with fantastic results. The composition has proven to be difficult to learn but rewarding in so many ways, both to the musicians and (we think) to the audience as well.

We can guarantee a great evening full of superb music and dedicated musicians who have worked long and hard all year long to prepare their craft for this moment. We hope that you will enjoy it as much as we have in preparing this finale.

Concert will take place Tuesday, April 19 at 7:30pm in the Moores Opera HouseTicket information available here, or call (713) 743.3313

Full program (in no particular order):

Toe Be or Not Toe Be, David Metzger
A Little Happiness, Sammy Nestico
Payback, Mike Tomaro
Walkin’ Shoes, Gerry Mulligan
The Easy Swing, Bob Mintzer
Late Night Latin, Henry Darragh
The Game is Over, Jukka Linkola
Ascendant, arr. Ryan Gabbart
Alone Together, arr. Tom Kubis
Besame Mucho, arr. Gerald Massoud
Shred!, George Heathco
Evensong, Aaron Lington
I Ain’t Gonna Ask No More, Toshiko Akiyoshi

Fall concert 2010

Yes, it’s already fall and the end of Daylight Savings Time, which means that Thanksgiving is almost here, which also means that all our schedules are about get busy. Why not spend your last few, precious hours of free time with us, the MSM Jazz Department? Did you know that our next concert will be on Tuesday, November 16 at 7:30pm in the Moores Opera House? Well then, consider yourself informed.

The MSM Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra will be featured in what has proven to be a challenging concert program. Seriously, the music is not easy; you try and play a transcription of Michael Brecker’s solo on “Slings and Arrows” (these guys are pretty close). But while the program is challenging, it will definitely not disappoint. These young musicians are a dedicated bunch, and the concert speaks for itself. So, if you’re still not planning on attending, consider yourself unlucky. Click here for ticket information.

The program will feature (in no particular order):

It’s a Most Unusual Day, arr. James Sochinski
Ruben Sepulveda, tenor sax
Andrew Dugas, guitar

Wave, arr. Michael Philip Mossman
Nick Madden, baritone sax

Quietude, Thad Jones
Tim McBreen, trumpet
Chris Mauldin, piano

Just When I’m Thinkin’ ‘Bout You, Rob Vuono, Jr.
Rick Harris, trombone

Albequirky, Dan Cavanagh
Ruben Sepulveda, tenor sax
Alex Winkler, piano

Slings and Arrows, arr. Rob Lussier
Landon Petersen, guitar
Eric Bustamante, tenor sax
David Ramirez, piano
Chad Tumminello, drums

Black Rattle, Dan Cavanagh
David Ramirez, piano
Cameron Kubos, trumpet
Chad Tumminello, drums

ABC Blues, Bob Brookmeyer
Grant Martin, drums
Gerald Massoud, bass
Cody Garrett, piano
John St. Julian, trumpet
Eric Bustamante, tenor sax
Bob Eason, alto sax
Henry Darragh, trombone

Common Ground, Neil Slater
Henry Darragh, piano
Darrell Materum, alto sax

Bloomdido, arr. Mike Crotty
Bob Eason, EWI
Henry Darragh, trombone

Also featuring thorough program notes and some uncomfortable banter. See you there!

The Amazing Mr. Big Dude

We’re pleased to report that last week’s concert was a great success with an impressive turnout. And thanks to photographer Pin Lim, you’re now able to see some great pictures and video from the show. Did you know that Pim has recently started a JazzHouston Tumblr site for all forms of multimedia goings on in the city? We highly encourage everyone to check it out!

2010-11 debut concert

It’s almost here. And by “it” we mean the debut concert of the Moores School Jazz Department for the 2010-11 season. And by “here” we mean next Wednesday, October 6 at 7:30pm in the Moores Opera House. Both the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra will be featured, and we’re proud to announce that our students have been diligently working hard to improve their performance skills this semester. It should be a great evening full of chances, spontaneous opportunity and (hopefully) fulfillment. That’s our goal, after all. Click here for ticket information.

The program will feature:

Baby Dahl, Phil Kelly
Ty Sheaffer, trumpet
Andrew Dugas, guitar

It Could Happen to You, arr. George Stone
Zach Woolhouse, alto saxophone
Ruben Sepulveda, tenor saxophone

A Sunday Ride, Mike Pendowski
Ty Sheaffer, trumpet
Ruben Sepulveda, tenor saxophone

I Be Serious ‘Bout Dem Blues, John Clayton
Josiah Cantu, trumpet
Ruben Sepulveda, tenor saxophone
Rick Harris, trombone
Alex Winkler, piano

Straight Ahead, George Stone
David Ramirez, piano
Cameron Kubos, trumpet
Eric Bustamante, tenor saxophone

Mean to Me, arr. Tom Kubis
Henry Darragh, vocal
Cameron Kubos, trumpet
Cody Garrett, piano

Not Quite Brazil, Jim Cifeli
Catherine Baker, flute
Bob Eason, soprano saxophone
Cameron Kubos, trumpet
Darrel Materum, alto saxophone
Chad Tumminello , drums
Henry Darragh, piano
Eric Bustamante, tenor saxophone
Landon Petersen, guitar

The Amazing Mr. Big Dude, Scott Lavender
Michael Ward, guitar
Cameron Kubos, trumpet
Henry Darragh, piano

Translucence, Aaron Lington
Eric Bustamante, tenor saxophone

Ain’t it Wonderful, Tom Kubis

David Ramirez, piano
Cameron Kubos, trumpet
Henry Darragh, trombone
Eric Bustamante, tenor saxophone