April 1st! This is not an April fool's joke (I hope). In between Christmas classics such as "O Christmas Tree," "O Holy Night" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the doctor of the ivories announced that Jazz, Tx, the American roots music venue to be located in the Pearl, will open its doors on April 1, 2016.
The venue will host music five nights a week including salsa, jazz, blues, big band, ragtime, conjunto and just about any other style that is derived from the culture and heritage of the common people. Folk music, to broaden an already inclusive term.
If the sounds heard radiating from the Pearl Stables last night were any indication of the caliber of musicianship that Watkins plans to deliver to Jazz, Tx, as an owner and talent booker, it will truly be a one-of-a-kind music establishment. The palate of the seventeen-piece band was on full display, particularly on tunes with exceptional arrangements such as the Duke Ellington version of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, rebranded as "The Dance of the Sugar Rum Cherry." You could almost hear Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Juan Tizol, Lawrence Brown or Ralph Carney's miraculous mingling of warm wood and brilliant brass in the horns of the more than adroit wind section.
Another highlight of the evening was Vince Guaraldi's "Skating," also a Charlie Brown Christmas classic, played as a trio. Pierre Poree, a New Orleans native, and Kyle Keener, a San Antonio jazz cornerstone, added vocals to several classic holiday tunes and showcased their command of their cords. All in all, it was a splendid concert and I can only hope that it is a precursor of things to come for Jazz, Tx and San Antonio.