West Texas Jazz Party: Heading for 50! Clips and Memories from Past Parties

A number of quality vocalists have attended the West Texas Jazz Parties over the years, but most have attended in the past 20 years or so. However, the Midland Jazz Classic took the lead in offering vocalists in the Permian Basin almost from the beginning. Both Mavis Rivers and Sue Raney attended by the early 80s, and they are featured in the program below heard on KXWT Odessa Midland, West Texas Public Radio. At this end of this program of historical recordings, you’ll find a few tracks from the new CD by Rebecca Kilgore and Nicki Parrott. As you might imagine, it is excellent. To cheat and get right to those tracks, jump ahead to about 35:00 in the program and you’ll be hearing their duets. Of course, the other recordings are worth hearing, too.

Click here to see a complete listing of musicians for the 2016 party.

One of the longest attending of the next generation musicians at the West Texas Jazz Parties is drummer Butch Miles, who first attended in 1981. Butch is also a native of West Virginia, and his music was featured in a recent program from KXWT Odessa-Midland, West Texas Public Radio called The Geography of Jazz – West Virginia. Butch is also a graduate of West Virginia State College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and now lives in Austin, Texas. Other West Virginia musicians featured in the program are tenor saxophonist Chu Berry, saxophonist, arranger and composer Don Redman and pianist Garland Wilson. The entire program on West Virginia is available below. You may also download this and play it offline.

As we prepare for the Jazz Party – and yes you can still get tickets for the performances – we have been remembering Joe Ascione – the wonderful jazz party drummer and friend who is no longer able to play. This program was broadcast on KXWT recently, and is full of music from Joe’s recordings – with some West Texas Jazz Party live tracks “from the Vaults” of the West Texas Jazz Society…

Throw back Thursday – Here is a “blast from the past”: A graphic composite of the cover and liner notes from the Odessa Sound of Jazz record released after the 1977 concert. The significance of this record (other than the great players present) was that it was the last recording to be made during Dr. Fulcher’s lifetime, and also the last recording officially sanctioned by the Jazz Party (I think).


A wrap-upMay 1980- Feature-OJPEnd of the Odessa Party from May 25, 1980, the final day of the 1980 Jazz Party in Odessa (courtesy of the Odessa American and Just think – it’s only been 35 years since this story. Extra points – tell me which five of the musicians mentioned in this story are still living. Hint – two are coming to this year’s West Texas Jazz Party May 14-17.

By the time of this newspaper clipping, West Texans had welcomed jazz to Odessa and Midland for 14 years. According to the clipping, 367 people attended the Odessa Jazz Party in 1980. An equal number would attend the Midland Jazz Classic that fall.

West Texas Jazz Society Board Member Keith Yarbrough, 58

keith-YarbroughLong time West Texas Jazz Society member and volunteer Keith Yarbrough, 58, died peacefully on January 26, 2015 at his home in Odessa, Texas. Like his father before him, Keith was active with the West Texas Jazz Society and served on the board for many years.

And like his father Clyde, Keith helped produce the annual jazz party, a tradition that his father helped to begin in 1967. The Board of the West Texas Jazz Society and all of the musicians and fans wish to thank Keith for his years of service. It truly was all in the family.

Most recently, Keith was Chief Information Officer at the University of Texas at the Permian Basin, a post he held for more than 25 years.

Keith will always be remembered as a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, and a consummate host. Nobody will forget his quick wit and kind spirit. You may read his entire obituary here.

Long-time West Texas Jazz Party musician Jim Galloway dies

Bandleader and saxophone player Jim Galloway, a driving force behind Toronto’s annual summer jazz festival and a regular attendee at Jazz Parties and other jazz events in the Permian Basin, died December 30, 2014 at 78.

James Braidie Galloway was born 28 July 1936 in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland and trained at the Glasgow School of Fine Arts. He was an established jazz performer before he moved to Canada in 1964.

Galloway-Alden-87Jim Galloway began appearing in West Texas in the late 1980s, and last appeared at the West Texas Jazz Party Collaboration in 2012. Above is a photo of Jim jamming with guitarist Howard Alden from 1987 at the Midland Jazz Classic.

Below is a recording from 1992 with Jim Galloway playing saxophone with Johnny Varro, piano, Bob Haggart, bass and Gene Estes playing drums.

Joe Wilder Dies at 92

The West Texas Jazz Society Jazz Party is the longest continuously-running jazz party in the nation. In 2014 we celebrated 48 years of bringing great jazz music to the Permian Basin!


May 15-17, 2014 – MCM Elegante’ Hotel, Odessa.

Jazz Party 2013 


Jazz Party Memories 1987-1991