HSPVA Sends Out Jazz Ambassadors, Ready to Do Thelonius Monk Proud

A group of students from Houston ISD's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is now on a weeklong tour, representatives of one of only two schools in the country chosen as ambassadors of jazz and bound for the famous Jazz Kitchen itself.

Houston's own: Drummer Jalon Archie, 18; trumpeter Adam DeWalt, 18, guitarist Jeremy Dorsey, 17; pianist James Francies, 17, bassist John Koozin, 17 and saxophonist Jyron Walls, 18, are in the Indianapolis public schools this week, presenting "jazz informances." They'll play along their counterparts in the Indianapolis schools, both learning from each other.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, with the help of a National Endowment of the Arts grant, chose the HSPVA kids to perform with GRAMMY nominee and saxophonist Antonio Hart, vocalist Lisa Henry and jazz educator Dr. J. B. Dyas.

Thelonious Sphere Monk, was a celebrated jazz pianist and composer, known as much for his sometimes dissonant melodies, his pounding of his pianos and his choice of hats. He performed with several of the greats of his time, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis.

"As young people are so influenced by kids their own age, who better to expose them to this great American art form than those of their own generation?" said Thelonius Monk Jr., son of the legend and chairman of the institute's board.

And if all this gets you feeling a little nostalgic for Monk himself, check out this recording of him performing 'Round Midnight.

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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