The Merriest and Happiest of Holidays from the West Texas Jazz Soceity!

West Texas Public Radio and West Texas Jazz Society volunteer David Leonnig produces these jazz programs on KXWT-FM each week, and here’s one for you to listen to during the Holidays.

54 minutes

Some of the music that appears in the unreleased documentary “Welcome to Jazzville USA: The West Texas Jazz Party at 50” is located here. Thanks for visiting the home of the West Texas Jazz Society and the legendary West Texas Jazz Party Collaboration. The Collaboration began as the Odessa Jazz Party in 1967 and has continued to be held in both Odessa and Midland for more than 50 years.

The 2017 West Texas Jazz Party was held May 18 – 21, 2017
at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Odessa!

The Houston Person Dance Party (May 18) Again Kicked Off the West Texas Jazz Party!
Join Houston Person again for his popular Dance set, where Dancers from 3 to 83 will again take to the floor to dance to music played by one of the greatest interpreters of the American Popular song melodies, Houston Person. Houston will pick from among the musicians in town Thursday night to form an all-star quartet to kick off the 51st West Texas Jazz Party from 8 to 10 in the MCM Elegante Ballroom.

A portion from a recent program broadcast on KXWT Odessa

The audio program below says May 16 (operator error) but the Dance is May 18!

Musicians invited to attend the party include:

  • Bucky Pizzarelli, Guitar
  • Johnny Varro, Piano
  • Houston Person, Tenor Sax
  • Frank Tate, Bass
  • Russ Phillips, Trombone
  • Randy Sandke, Trumpet
  • Rebecca Kilgore, Vocalist
  • Eddie Erickson, Guitar/Vocalist
  • Warren Vache, Cornet
  • Dan Barrett, Trombone
  • Joel Forbes, Bass
  • Chuck Redd, Drums
  • Lynn Seaton, Bass
  • Martin Pizzarelli, bass
  • Harry Allen, Tenor
  • Engelbert Wrobel, Saxes
  • Ricky Malichi, Drums
  • Brian Piper, Piano
  • John Allred, Trombone
  • Rossano Sportiello, Piano
  • Eddie Metz, Jr., Drums

Sponsored in part by:

  • The Texas Commission for the Arts
  • Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities
  • The Rea Charitable Trust
  • Jazz Party Patron Passes ($225 each), includes tickets for ALL FOUR performances and Reserved Seating, plus access to the after-hours hospitality room.

    Performances are:

    Thursday Dance Party, 8:00 – 10:00 pm
    Friday Evening, 7:30 – 11:30 pm
    Saturday Brunch, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
    Saturday Evening, 7:30 – 11:30 pm
    Sunday Afternoon Performance, 1:00 – 5:00 pm

    * Please RSVP if attending brunch

    General Admission, each performance $50 each

    Reservations for the Party:
    (432) 552-8962
    or mail checks to:
    West Texas Jazz Society
    P.O. Box 10832
    Midland, Texas 79702
    Reservations for MGM Elegante
    (432) 368-5885
    Jazz Party Rates $129 per night

    Past Performances

    Anderson Twins Trio again visited the Permian Basin!

    On April 11, 2017 the supremely talented Peter and Will Anderson again played at the Rea Greathouse Recital Hall at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. Tickets were $30 for non WTJS Members, $5 for students with ID, and $10 for reserved seating for members (who are admitted free with their West Texas Jazz Society Membership). There is a cash bar. Get more info.

    In Midland February 23, 2017:

    The N’Awlins Gumbo Kings

    Thursday, February 23rd – 7:30p.m.
    DoubleTree Midland Ballroom – 117 W. Wall Street

    The N’Awlins Gumbo Kings are:
    Brian Piper – Piano
    Mike Sizer – Clarinet & Saxophones
    Steve Howard – Trumpet
    Tony Baker – Trombone
    Bobby Breaux – Drums
    Carl Hillman – Bass

    Members – Free
    Non-members – $40
    Students with ID – $5
    Reserved seating additional $15
    Call (432) 559-2412 for reservations


    Sponsored by:
    Arts Council of Midland & Texas Commission on the Arts

    Recent News from the West Texas Jazz Society


    Bria Skonberg performed at the Petroleum Club of Midland on Thursday, November 17, 2016.

    The Canadian singer, trumpeter, and songwriter Bria Skonberg is described by The Wall Street Journal as one of the “most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.”

    Noted as a Millennial “Shaking Up the Jazz World,” according to Vanity Fair, Skonberg is a self-described “small town girl” from Chilliwack, British Columbia.


    Johnny Varro played at at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center on Sunday, October 30, at 2 pm at the Rea-Greathouse Recital Hall.

    Johnny had just performed at the Roswell Jazz Party.

    Recent Sunday Afternoon Jazz in Midland

    With a jazz quintet featuring:baker-trumpet

  • Eric Baker, trumpet
  • Mark Lyon, trombone
  • Dan Ferguson, keyboards
  • Mark Lowe, bass
  • Richy Puga, drums

    Our first event since the 2016 West Texas Jazz Party! Free for Jazz Society Members. Others pay $20 at the door. Students with ID $5.


    Live from the 2016 West Texas Jazz Party

    The Houston Person/Eddie Erickson set was a good one, in case you missed it!


    This program includes the entire Houston Person – Eddie Erickson set from Saturday night, May 21, 2016 at the West Texas Jazz Party. Eddie was not miked perfectly for all of his vocals, but the set is still a lot of fun.

    As an added treat, you get to hear the John Cocuzzi and Chuck Redd vibraphone battle from Sunday afternoon at the 2016 party. Enjoy!

    Thanks to everyone who made the 2016 Jazz Party 50th Weekend a smashing success!

    • Tenor saxophonist Houston Person and his quartet played a Swing Dance Celebration on Thursday, May 19th at 7 pm in the MCM Elegante Ballroom in Odessa, and…
    • The legendary Four Freshmen opened the West Texas Jazz Party Collaboration on Friday, May 20th at 5:30 in the MCM Elegante Ballroom.

    The West Texas Jazz Society also welcomed
    The Anderson Twins Trio back to the Basin for student clinics and an evening concert on May 3, 2016 at the Rea-Greathouse Recital Hall, 7:00 p.m.

    andersontwins5.3.2016PETER & WILL ANDERSON have been called ”virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone” by no less than the New York Times.

    The West Texas Jazz Society, in partnership with Midland College, Odessa College and UTPB is proud to welcome them back for a student clinic and a concert on May 3. The student clinic is 1 p.m. for Midland College, Odessa College & UTPB students, and the evening concert is 7 p.m.. Both will be held at the Rea-Greathouse Recital Hall in the Wagner Noël.

    Hailing from Washington, D.C., they are truly one of the most extraordinary duos in jazz performing today. At 15, they toured the United Kingdom, and have been described as “clever, charming…true showmen.” After attending Juilliard in New York City, they have become saxophonists of choice for Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, the Village Vanguard Orchestra, and Wycliffe Gordon. They’ve headlined at Jazz at Lincoln Center, DC’s Blues Alley, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Sarasota FL Jazz Festival, Seattle’s Triple Door, Iowa’s Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival as well as at jazz festivals in Europe, Asia, The Middle East, and South America. May 3, they return to the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center!

    The Anderson Twins Trio performs in the Rea-Greathouse Recital Hall at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center May 3, 2016 at 7 p.m. Jazz Society members receive free admission. For others admission is $20 each. Student admission is $5 with student ID. See you there! Call 432-552-8962 today for further information and to get your tickets!

    Do you have your tickets yet for the 50th West Texas Jazz Party Collaboration? Tables are
    available for groups, and individual tickets for each event can be purchased as well.
    Click here for details.


    RIP Joe Ascione (1961-2016)

    Joe-MHG-AlWhiteThe drummer Joe Ascione, a fixture of the West Texas Jazz Parties for two decades, died March 12 at 54 of Multiple Sclerosis. Below are two programs featuring his music that were recently broadcast on West Texas Public Radio – KXWT Odessa ( streaming).

    Both programs are available below on this page.

    Joe Ascione Remembered: Hour One

    Joe Ascione Remembered: Hour Two

    The second hour features Joe playing live in West Texas at the Jazz Party.

    Ascione was an incredible drummer, as these programs will attest. The programs also include portion of an interview David Leonnig made by telephone with Joe in 2015. At that point, all he could move was his index finger on one hand.

    The music is truly outstanding. I recommend you listen to this program when you have the time. From Big band to latin, to Flamenco to trad jazz, Joe Ascione could do it all.

    Joe Ascione first came to the Odessa Jazz Party in 1992. He stopped playing in 2010.

    Watch the videos online sometime of Joe playing with Frank Vignola. They are incredible together and separately.

    Preview the Musician Lineup of the
    2016 West Texas Jazz Party
    Collaboration below:

    The West Texas Jazz Party Collaboration is May 20-22, 2016 at the MCM Eleganté Hotel – Odessa, Texas


    Musicians scheduled to perform include:

    • Bucky Pizzarelli
    • Rossano Sportiello
    • Ed Polcer
    • Randy Sandke
    • Warren Vaché
    • Dan Barrett
    • John Allred
    • Ken Peplowski
    • Harry Allen
    • Houston Person
    • Allan Vaché
    • Johnny Varro
    • John Cocuzzi
    • Nicki Parrott
    • Frank Tate
    • Joel Forbes
    • Chuck Redd
    • Butch Miles
    • Tony Tedesco
    • Eddie Erickson
    • Rebecca Kilgore


    The West Texas Jazz Party Collaboration is Sponsored in part by:

    • The Texas Commission for the Arts
    • Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities
    • The Rea Charitable Trust
    Patron Tickets: $225

    Includes Reserved Seating for all performances and Saturday Brunch

    General Admission:

    Each performance $50 • Brunch $50

    $25 per performance for teachers with valid ID (first come, first served – limited to space available)

    $5 per performance for students (with ID)

    For Hotel Reservations, call 432-368-5885 and ask for the Jazz Party Rate. For Jazz Party or Brunch Reservations, call 432-552-8962. We are now accepting credit cards or you may make your check payable to: West Texas Jazz Society • P.O. Box 10832 • Midland, Texas 79702

    Red Norvo was a favorite in Odessa and Midland from the mid 1970s through the early 80s.

    Red-Norvo-from-Crues-1000pxThis portrait of Red Norvo was presented to Red at the Midland party. According to a story from Bobby Crues, Norvo’s significant other at the time did not like the painting, and so it ended up at the home of former Midland Jazz Classic President Crues.

    One of the most engaging musicians to attend the West Texas Jazz Parties in both Midland and Odessa was the xylophonist and vibraphonist Red Norvo. It’s likely that most people attending parties in either Odessa or Midland had no idea who Red Norvo was when he first visited Odessa in 1975…

    Read more here about Red Norvo…

    Past Events

    Johnny Varro at Wagner Noël Rea-Greathouse Recital Hall for Valentine’s Day

    Visit our Facebook page for events like this and like our page!


    This West Texas Jazz program on KXWT Odessa features the first of three interview programs with musician, musicologist and jazz historian Ted Gioia, who wrote a book several years ago called “The Jazz Standards” that is a great read. You’ll hear a number of songs you know, from a number of musicians you like. Gioia has great insights and comments on how he chose the songs – its a very small list of just over 250 titles – and what the songs mean to jazz. The songs in the program come directly from examples Gioia lists in the book (the list is also available to listen to completely on Spotify – it’s well over 1200 songs.). The interviewer for the program is Dave Leonnig.

    Five Reasons You Should Have Attended the
    West Texas Jazz Party in Odessa in May 2015 – and why you should plan to make our 50th party in 2016!

    KXWT Odessa aired this program recently as a tribute to Sunnie and Ralph Sutton. The program is 53 minutes.

    Here is another treat – for friends of the great jazz drummer Joe Ascione, who can no longer perform because of Multiple Sclerosis – here is a track from the jazz party in 2009. Jazz Party President Margaret Gillham introduces Thou Swell with Joe playing the drums…Enjoy!

    Our Mission…

    • The preservation, perpetuation and expansion of America’s original musical art form – jazz. 

    • The promotion of jazz as an art form among the young. 

    • The presentation of quality jazz performances in the Permian Basin.

    Read about a recent Jazz Party in the Odessa American.

    West Texas Jazz Party 51 – May 19-21, 2017