By Taelor Smith, Staff Writer
What a wonderful night it was to enjoy the Showdown Throwdown, a Texas vs. Louisiana Brass Band competition. Three of the hottest brass bands came together for a fun and friendly night of competition. Houston’s very own Bayou City Brass Band went up against the two New Orleans based bands, To Be Continued Brass Band and the Hot 8 Brass Band. Donna Franklin of Houston’s KTSU radio station served as the vibrant host for the event and kept everyone entertained throughout the night.
To Be Continued Brass Band kicked off competition with their 10-piece band consisting of trumpets, trombones, tuba, saxophone and percussion. In showband fashion, the group livened the crowd with their loud sound, funky melodies, and soul covering songs that the crowd were familiar with like Nas’ “If I Ruled The World,” Clipse’s “What You Wanna Do,” and “Wild Magnolia.” The group sang and harmonized together which in turn encouraged the crowd to sing along.
Next up was Bayou City Brass Band, a group native to Houston. During their hour-long set, the group had the audience dancing, singing, and having a great time with the hits they covered. Songs such as “California Luv,” “Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake, and 90s hip-hop dance classic “Doing The Butt.” Bayou City Brass really got the crowd excited when they played famed Houston artist DJ Screw’s “June 27th Freestyle.” They showed they were really and truly a crowd favorite with their song selection, choreography with every song, interaction with the audience, and even rapping along to a few songs in their showcase. Bayou City Brass ended their set with their original song “Let Your Mind Be Free,” and the crowd loved it.
Hot 8 Brass Band were the headliners of the event, saving them as the final group and their performance proved their power. Dressed in all white, the group commanded the stage in grand fashion. The 8-piece band was small, yet mighty and kept the fun going from the previous groups. The crowd couldn’t help but to get out of their seats and have a great time. All three bands ended the night altogether on stage playing Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and other songs by notable artists. Ultimately, Bayou City Brass Band would take home the crown as they gave so much energy and showmanship throughout their set.
The Showdown Throwdown was one of three events put on during the 27th Annual Houston International Jazz Fest Hosted by Jazz Education Inc. Bubbha Thomas is the Founder of Jazz Education Inc., a program created to preserve the art of American music.
“Jazz Education Incorporated was started in 1970. It’s a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and the purpose is to change lives through music. Beginning from middle school through college and also providing programs for families.”
He stresses the importance that Jazz is not to be considered a genre solely for African-Americans. He says Jazz is an American genre of music that just so happens to be originated by Black Americans.
Also included in the weekend of events for HIJF is the Mayor’s Jazz Scholarship Brunch and the Jazz Kickoff Reception. All of these events help promote and fund Jazz Education Inc. programs for students and scholarships.
“Houston International Jazz Festival is one of the latest programs that we did. The program started in 1970 and the first program that we did was called August Jazz Month Houston. It dawned on me that we needed programs that were designed to reach a different audience so we came up with the Summer Jazz Workshop in 1972.”
The Mayor’s Jazz Scholarship Brunch awards two lucky students who attend Jazz Education Inc. Summer Jazz Workshop. In addition to a spectacular performance from the students, Mayor Sylvester Turner conducts the jazz orchestra using the baton once used by conductor Arturo Toscanini to conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra.
Jazz Education Inc. is a great program that is continuously teaching children a valued art form. Thomas is glad to have made this opportunity available to Houston. The program looks forward to many more years of educating young people on classic American music and celebrations through the Houston International Jazz Festival.
You can learn more about Jazz Education Inc. programs and events at www.jazzeducation.org.