In 2015 the West Texas Jazz Society presented the 49th Annual West Texas Jazz Party Collaboration, marking it as the oldest continuously running jazz party in the United States! Plans are underway for the 50th party May 20-22, 2016. Click here for further information. Below is a brief summary of our long history…
It was during a visit to Dick Gibson’s famous Aspen jazz party that Dr. O.A. (Jimmie) Fulcher first conceived the idea of bringing world-class jazz to West Texas.
Dr. Fulcher wondered why West Texas couldn’t be host to a similar party. While in Aspen, he talked the idea over with some of the country’s top jazz musicians. They liked the idea. Then Jimmie returned home and immediately set about the task of selling the plan to a number of his friends. The Odessa Jazz Association was formed and the rest is history. The First Annual Odessa Jazz Party was held in 1967. For five nights the old Terrace Room of the Golden Rooster Club high atop the historic Inn of the Golden West provided the setting for some of the nation’s best jazz performers.
During the first party 124 stalwart jazz enthusiasts thirstily absorbed every note and the legacy of West Texas jazz was born. By the 5th annual party in excess of 350 energetic patrons from coast to coast were drawn to the jazz Mecca of the Odessa Jazz Party. In just 5 years the concept had grown from what many had considered to be an impossibility on the staked plains of West Texas into an event of national significance. In 1977 Max Christensen and a group of Midland jazz enthusiasts formed the Midland Jazz Association and the Midland Jazz Classic was born. Over the nearly 50-year history of the events the two parties have hosted jazz greats from around the world.
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!
The list of jazz performers reads as a veritable who’s who of American jazz history. As the popularity of jazz increased more jazz parties and festivals appeared across the nation. The wider variety of jazz entertainment options took its toll on local party attendance. Jazz fans in other cities had a new variety of parties. These pressures and downturns in the local economy prompted the two parties to merge under the umbrella of the West Texas Jazz Society in 1998. Since then the West Texas Jazz Collaboration has continued the great traditions of the Odessa Jazz Party and the Midland Jazz Classic by alternating the performance locations between the two cooperating cities.