Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The stars at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of...Jazz?!

When people think of the birthplace of jazz, they usually think of New Orleans. People might be reluctant to think of Texas as the true birthplace of jazz. But I do.

Many of the most important players were born in the Lone Star State - Scott Joplin from Texarkana, Jack Teagarden from Vernon, Harry James from Beaumont, Charlie Christian from Bonham, David "Fathead" Newman from Corsicana, Booker Ervin from Denison, Ornette Coleman and Dewey Redman from Ft. Worth, John Handy, Red Garland and Cedar Walton from Dallas, Kenny Dorham from La Mesa (my mother's hometown), Roy Hargrove from Waco and two artists performing during the Spring Season, Jason Moran and Eric Harland, are from Houston.

As a native Texan, from Dallas, when I listen to these players, I hear the mesquite flavored-BBQ, the bluebonnets, the heat, the humidity, the Alamo. Their BIG sound matches the BIG image of Texas. You can hear this Texas spirit from Moran and Harland when they perform with Dave Holland (Feb. 24) and Charles Lloyd (April 22) and when Harland performs with the SFJAZZ Collective (March 30-31 and April 1).

In the immortal words of John Steinbeck, "Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion."

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