Houston’s Jazz scene just got a whole lot more exciting with Live Music Movement Foundation’s debut musical event. LMMF partnered with Leslie Drayton and Few Regrets in mid-November at ALJ Jazz Bar and Lounge, Downtown Houston’s newest jazz venue. The event was an unofficial celebration and reassertion of LMMF’s mission to “present, promote and preserve jazz, blues and soul music through performances, education and the commission of new works.”
LMMF’s founder and Chairperson Kathy Drayton shared some insight into the organization’s plans in Houston for the New Year and beyond.
Now that the Live Music Movement Foundation has birthed itself into Houston’s musical scene with its first event in the downtown area, what kind of events should be expected in 2017?
KD: Upcoming events will include more jazz along with blues. The audience showed an amazing response to the final tune of the night, “A Greasy Brown Paper Sack”. There was dancing and yelling in response to the music. That was a great indication that the crowd enjoys the blues. We’ll also look to have soul music as we explore the various musical genres of African American artists.
What were your take-ways from the very first Houston event? Highs? Lows, if any?
KD: There was tremendous support of the event with lots of family and friends who brought others to the event. The audience really enjoyed and responded to the music in a “call and response” fashion that is indicative of the black experience. This was a great opportunity to expose LMMF to Houston and for us to begin to cultivate a dedicated audience. Audience feedback indicates there is a market for the events we will produce and we should tap in to that market easily.
One of LMMF’s missions is to have musical events which emphasize dancing and socializing rather than concerts where the primary focus is listening. What are some ways you have been able to accomplish this in the past and how do you intend to promote it in the future?
KD: Our Los Angeles events were generally held at restaurants where guests could have a meal while enjoying the music. They were able to see friends and visit during the intermission. We encourage not only dancing where there is a place or a place can be carved out, but movement while seated. The movement can be foot tapping, head bobbing or shoulder shaking. We’ve also hosted Lounge and Restaurant events with a dance floor where R&B cover tunes were, which was a hit with the audience who danced the night away.
At the event at ALJ Jazz Bar and Lounge, the music was so exciting a couple found their spot to partner dance while at the end of the evening a group of revelers danced the ‘second line’ around the lounge waving white napkins as a substitute for white handkerchiefs.
The debut event was an official welcome home to Houston for me and cake was shared with all in attendance. It created a sense of community when we shared the cake with guests who didn’t know us. To promote socialization in the future we’ll build on what we accomplished in Los Angeles and our debut Houston event. We’ll encourage those in attendance to “move” in some fashion. Since guests are sometimes shy to be the first to move, members of the group may begin the “movement” then others will follow.
Why is it important for LMMF to cultivate an intergenerational audience?
KD: Support of jazz has diminished substantially over the years. Much of the audience enjoying jazz are seniors. As they no longer attend, there will be no one to support the jazz form. The same can be said for blues and soul music. By exposing the music forms to a younger generation allowing them to gain an appreciation of the music performed live, there will always be an audience to support the music and the musicians.
LMMF desires to perform with seasoned musicians as well as those just beginning their careers, are there any particular musicians in Houston you would like to collaborate with for an event?
KD: As we explore the music scene in Houston, we hope to identify the seasoned musicians who have a similar vision as LMMF to begin an association with them. We will also be on the lookout for serious young musicians who are developing their craft as professional musicians and include them in our endeavors.
LMMF’s vision and mission to present, promote, and preserve Jazz, Blues, and Soul for intergenerational audiences cannot be understated. Dancing, singing, and call and response are a part of the African American experience. Music is a medium to tell a story. It relays history and culture in remarkable ways, and history in none of its forms should be forgotten. The musicians who compose and create are just one part of the preservation effort; we who listen and move to the rhythm are the other.
Denise Powell is an avid reader and her other interests include plants, healthy living and writing. She currently lives in Houston, Texas.