The City of Houston is widely known for its lackadasical attitude towards jazz. The municipality boasts two radio stations, three festivals and a number of educational opportunities devoted to America's only original art form. But in spite of these offerings, jazz acceptance seems to have a hard road to travel in Houston; however, every once in a while a bright light of jazz activated energy appears on the horizon, giving promise to jazz connoisseurs all is not lost forever. Overall when examining the jazz scene historically, Houston has always been a hot bed of activity, but in recent years there has been a gradual decline in acceptance and participation. In retrospect, the city's roster reads like a Who's Who in Jazz; as such, some of the best names around have highlighted the jazzscape. Some of the most notable individuals include The Crusaders, Illinois Jacquet, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Arnett Cobb, Conrad Johnson, Hubert and Ronnie Laws, as well as a host of others. In keeping with that tradition, a number of events periodically occur in Houston to highlight its prominence as a jazz city. One such event is the Trinity Jazz Festival.
2004 marks the festival's third year as a voice that can be heard espousing the gospel according to jazz. Sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church, the event highlights the "city's music par excellence." The festival's founder, rector Father William B. Miller, believes: "Jazz is a vehicle for emphasizing both the Midtown church's urban setting, and it's commitment to artistic expression." In addition, Father Miller also states: " Putting jazz in a church setting in a sacred context is rare, but it is a pairing that makes much sense theologically, historically and liturgically." When examining the history of jazz, it is a known fact that its roots can be found in gospel and classical music. Father Miller's attempt towards connecting Houston's cultural and spiritual dynamics with jazz is a great boon for the city as well.
In the two years that Trinity Episcopal Church has sponsored the festival, some very notable talent have been featured, including David "Fathead" Newman, Ed Calle, Marvin Stamm, Ellis Marsalis and a host of others. This year, the church brings the Pamela York Trio, Jason and Delfeayo Marsalis, Jason Moran, HSPVA Student Jazz Combo and HSPVA Faculty Jazz Quartet. Another significant aspect included during the 2004 activities are salutes to HSPVA (High School for the Performing & Visual Arts). This pairing goes the distance towards emphasizing the influences of jazz on education. Jason Moran himself is an alumni of HSPVA, who has since become a world-class jazz musician in his own right. That ingredient alone is an inspiration to students currently enrolled in the program.
The 3rd Annual Trinity Jazz Festival continues a process of acceptance and an appreciation for jazz. The benefit to Houston is immense, because it expand's the city's cultural and artistic diversity. This event along with other festivals and concert opportunities allows the fourth largest city in the United States to offer something more than cowboys and livestock. The heritage and history of jazz in Houston is just as monumental and historic.