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Jan 18, 2018

Star-studded Trinity Jazz Fest Opens Jan 25

How can a drug-addicted musician find his way back to self?  What is it about the power of jazz that makes one rise above? Is there a spiritual connection between jazz and redemption?

Hear these answers and more January 25-28, 2018 during an extended weekend journey through jazz in film and concerts featuring the thrilling trombone of Delfeayo Marsalis and unforgettable saxophone of Mark Gross. Listen as they pay tribute Saturday to Frank Morgan at the 17th Annual Trinity Jazz Festival concert culminating in a powerful Sunday morning Jazz Mass at Trinity Episcopal Church Midtown featuring the music of Ray Charles.

Frank Morgan, a child prodigy and heir apparent to his mentor Charlie “Bird” Parker, was crippled by his own heroin addiction yet buoyed by his musicianship even behind prison bars in San Quentin. His poignant journey is captured in the first event of the weekend, the Thursday night documentary at MATCH, “The Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story.”

Morgan, now deceased, spent so much time in and out of prison for the petty crimes to feed his addiction, he joked that he was serving life in prison on the installment plan. He  rarely felt worthy of his talent. When he was clean he created, when he was not, the pain was in his music.

Trinity’s Rector Hannah Atkins calls artistic creation a reflection of the divine image and work of God the Creator in each of us.

“Music is an expression of the most primal and profound essence of the human spirit and is an echo of God’s Holy Spirit at work within and around us. The nature of jazz ignites a spark, a chispa, a flame of the soul’s longing for freedom, for truth, for connection,” said Atkins.

She noted that Trinity celebrates and honors the intermingling of the sacred and the mundane in the music.

“By embracing the talent of musicians, both saints and sinners, courageous enough to take risks, to improvise, to use the gifts God gave them freely, we hope to encourage artists, young and old alike, to make the world a better place with their music,” said the rector.

“The Trinity Jazz Festival is an offering of Spirit, of faith, hope and love to our diverse and creative city,” said Atkins who has celebrated the Sunday Jazz Mass since 2008.

The Trinity Jazz Festival began in 2002. The festival’s founder, Father William B. Miller saw jazz — city music par excellence — as a vehicle for emphasizing both the Midtown church’s urban setting and its commitment to artistic expression.

Festival Events

  • Thursday, January 25: The Festival kicks off with a viewing of the film, “Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story” 7 p.m. at MATCH – the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston, 3400 Main Street, Houston, TX.  The viewing is a collaborative effort with Trinity Episcopal Church. Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for seniors (65+) and students with valid ID.

Musicians Delfeayo Marsalis and Mark Gross are featured prominently in the film which Marsalis co-wrote. There will be a discussion immediately following the film with Morgan’s sister and Houston resident Angela Morgan with moderator Horace Alexander Young.

  • Friday, January 26: New Orleans natives vocalist Kim Prevost and guitarist Bill Solley are the featured artists with special guest artist Angela Morgan, providing an upscale evening of music and dining at the very popular VIP dinner.  The $125 event, which sells out annually, will be held 6 p.m. Friday at the Doubletree Hotel, 6 Greenway Plaza, Houston.
  • Saturday, January 27: Learn from the best. Musicians Marsalis and Gross will lead a free Saturday morning Master Class from 10:30 a.m. to noon, open to all at Trinity Episcopal Church Midtown, 1015 Holman Street at Main.
  • Saturday evening 6 p.m., reception at Trinity featuring the music of the Jazz Education Inc. Student Ensemble.
  • Saturday evening 7 p.m., Houston native Horace Alexander Young returns to open the evening concert with his quartet.
  • Saturday evening 8 p.m., Marsalis and Gross headline the concert with a tribute to Frank Morgan.  VIP seating is $50, general seating is $35.
  • Sunday 11 a.m. free Jazz Mass pays tribute to the music of Ray Charles with vocalists Werner Richmond, the Trinity Choir and Trinity Jazz Ensemble directed by Horace Alexander Young with spiritual reflections by Rector Atkins.

“The spontaneous aspect of jazz, in general, makes it a perfectly adaptable underscore for spiritual worship,” explained Horace Alexander Young who returns to Houston to serve as musical director.

“When one prays, the soul is opened up to be completely enriched and stimulated by prayer,” said Young.  “Jazz can match that experience through the element of improvisation.  It is through improvisation that the most personal form of individual expression can be made,” said Young.

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