Jason Moran's High School Reunion

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Wednesday October 20, 2010

From NPR

Today’s Jazz Stars, Back In High School
By Patrick Jarenwattananon

Tonight, pianist and recent MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran plays a free show in his hometown of Houston. He’ll be appearing with a jazz band from Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, his alma mater.

Moran is far from the only acclaimed jazz musician to have emerged from HSPVA. Fellow pianists Robert Glasper and Helen Sung are alumni, as are drummers like Chris Dave, Eric Harland, Herman Matthews, Kendrick Scott and Jamire Williams, and plenty of other instrumentalists with successful careers: Walter Smith III, Mike Moreno, Geof Bradfield, Andre Hayward, Alan Hampton … Which leads to the question: Why do so many great jazz musicians come from this one small high school in Texas?

I’ve been investigating that thought, talking to band directors past and present. For decades, the program was run by Robert “Doc” Morgan, who taught many of these great musicians, and brought the school’s jazz program to prominence. I’ll have fuller responses to the question at hand soon. For now, I just wanted to share some anecdotes about what these great musicians were like in high school.

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