Yesterday, Ben Ratliff reported in the New York Times about two special concerts that went down, last Friday and Saturday, in Manhattan's TriBeCa neighborhood. Houston pianist Jason Moran organized "713 to 212: Houstonians in NYC" at the 92nd Street Y, featuring jazz musicians taught by Dr. Robert Morgan, a recently-retired teacher at Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. The list included drummers Eric Harland, Kendrick Scott, Chris Dave and Jamire Williams; trombonist Corey King; guitarist Mike Moreno; pianists Robert Glasper and Helen Sung; trumpeters Leron Thomas and Brandon Lee; and bassists Burniss Earl Travis, Mark Kelley and Marcos Varela.
Dr. Morgan was in attendance and participated in a pre-concert panel discussion on Saturday.
Friday night's concert was Houston-centric, featuring takes on songs by Houston artists, like the Geto Boys ("Mind Playing Tricks on Me"), Johnny Guitar Watson ("Superman Lover") and ZZ Top ("Sharp-Dressed Man"); while Saturday's show was a longer, jazzier set with dramatic solos and varying styles.
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"They were sophisticated and totally joyous concerts, for a bunch of reasons. Mr. Moran -- who won a MacArthur Fellowship last year -- thinks across cultural lines without fussing or explaining overmuch, and he didn't turn the concerts into a celebration of himself. Civic pride suffused the room. People kept shouting, "Third Ward!" The crowd was completely mixed, in age as well as race and sex and taste. It was a reunion, which brings its own momentum. And because the common denominator was not just a city or a school but also one specific teacher, you sensed respect. Nobody acted jaded. Nobody acted glib. No one's ego ran rampant. This wasn't just another gig."