HOUSTON—April is jazz appreciation month. For some Texas Southern University students, that means a huge performance in Monterey, Calif., this weekend. 39 News learned about the TSU jazz ensembles and the finger snappin', toe tappin' good times ahead.
When it comes to making music lovers take notice, the Texas Southern University jazz ensembles have done just that.
"Our jazz program is second to none," said TSU professor and department chair, Dianne Jemison-Pollard.
"Everyone who hears about our jazz program; when they come and actually are in the audience, they can't believe this is Texas Southern University," Jemison-Pollard said with a huge smile.
You can believe it. This group is invited to the upcoming Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival.
"It's the oldest jazz festival in the United States," said Horace Alexander Young, who graduated from TSU's jazz program in 1978 and serves as a visiting jazz professor.
TSU's fine arts department gives its students the option of majoring in music with a specific emphasis in jazz.
"That's one of the things that makes our program unique," said Young.
As far as TSU's vocal jazz program, it's significant for several reasons.
"There are only two vocal jazz ensembles in the state of Texas," Young said. "That's here and the University of North Texas."
And there's only three in the world of historically black colleges. The TSU jazz ensembles kicked off the 10th annual fine arts week, which began on Monday, April 5 and runs through April 13.
"When you start talking about 'why is this program special'? It's special because there's things that we have here that don't exist at a lot of other schools," Young said.
The TSU jazz ensembles have won numerous awards and major collegiate jazz festivals. They're also known for producing leading jazz professionals.
"We would like to think that we're probably the best kept secret in Houston," said Jemison-Pollard.
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