Celebrity Entertainers join the 25th Annual International Jazz Festival

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 6/29/2015, 1:57 p.m.
The Houston International Jazz Festival will celebrate 25 years of music, artists, education and history. The festival, which benefits Jazz ...
Mayor Annise Parker is ready to strike up the band at this year's Houston International Jazz Festival

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston International Jazz Festival will celebrate 25 years of music, artists, education and history. The festival, which benefits Jazz Education, Inc., a nonprofit organization, is set to kick off on July 31st - August 2nd with live music and a host of musicians and bands from all over the world. The focus of the festival is "Honoring Tradition and Shaping the Future". Honoring the legends, the music and the standards of tradition; shaping the young minds and educating for the future.

Jazz Education, which was founded in 1970 by Bubbha Thomas, serves nearly 20,000 elementary kids in after school programs year round. The Jazz Festival is one of the programs largest fundraisers that funds the after school programs and a 5-week Jazz Education program. The organization kicked off the annual HEB Tournament of Champions 44th Summer Jazz Workshop on Monday, June 15th and will run through July 17th with several celebrities like Robert Morgan and Ben Tanker teaching sessions. The workshop serves more than 150 teenagers.

"The Houston community is a 'melting pot,' celebrating many cultures. And so is jazz. It only made sense to make sure we were educating jazz fans and people who were not quite sure about jazz alike. And now, it's been more than 20 years. It's exciting how much this festival has grown, and continues to grow," says Bubbha Thomas, founder of Jazz Education and the Houston International Festival.

This year the Jazz Festival will feature more than just jazz. Jazz has played a significant role in being the birth of other music genres like Blues, Soul, R&B, Hip Hop, Blue Grass, Folk, Rock & Roll, Reggae and much more. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Texas has produced the greatest number of musicians and bands. Texans have also been noted for producing most of the notable jazz music. To continue that success and give back to the more than 20,000 kids in the City of Houston, here is the Jazz Festival schedule:

Jazz Festival Schedule:

Kick Off Party

Friday - July 31, 2015 - 5 pm to 2 am

Location - Music World

Pre-Concert Party

Saturday - August 1, 2015 - 3 pm

Location - Hard Rock Café

Jazz Festival Concert

Saturday - August 1, 2015 - 7 pm

Location - Bayou Music Center

Mayor's Scholarship Jazz Brunch

Sunday - August 2, 2015 - 11 am

Location - Wortham Theater Center


In the winter of 1988, Bubbha Thomas, executive director of Jazz Education Inc. approached the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland to seek support for a Houston International Jazz Festival. Congressman Leland enthusiastically responded, "Bubbha you get the talent and I'll get the sponsorships." Leland was not here to witness the first Houston International Jazz Festival. He died on August 6, 1989, while on a humanitarian mission to Ethiopia.

In 1991, in memory of Congressman Leland, the first Houston International Jazz Festival was held outdoors on the "Super Block" in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center. In 1994, Bubbha approached Councilman Judson Robinson III, son of Houston's first Black City Councilman, Judson Robinson Jr., and shared the story of the vision of the Houston International Jazz Festival and the history of Jazz Education Inc. The rest is History.

Since its inception, in association with "August Jazz Month Houston", the Houston International Jazz Festival has placed Houston in the spotlight as the site of the nation's only Jazz Festival focusing on international Jazz musicians. The mission of the Festival is to provide a unique cultural program that exposes Houstonians to musicians from outside the United States of America. All proceeds from the festival go toward funding Jazz Education Inc.'s educational programs, "Jazz & Poetry Series" and "Summer Jazz Workshop." The Jazz and Poetry Series serves more than 30,000 elementary school children, and through two locations, the Summer Jazz Workshop trains over 100 teenage musicians yearly.

Other goals of the Festival are to provide scholarships for underserved children attending the Summer Jazz Workshop and establish an endowment for the long-term growth of Jazz Education Inc.

From an artistic standpoint, the Festival gives Houstonians and Texans an opportunity to see the influence of this great American art form in action, as demonstrated by foreign musicians. For our young people, this is very important.

For more information, visit www.houstoninternationaljazzfestival.com