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Fort Worth Business Press - Culture Spring 2008

Fort Worth Business Press - Culture Spring 2008

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Published by: fwbp on Mar 26, 2008
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u ture
The Bass Hall decade• • •Fort Worth’s Jazz Heritage• • •Gracey Tune &Arts Fifth Avenue• • •Four great museums
Spring 08 / Fort Worth Culture
Fort Worth Culture/Spring 08
curialnature ofshow business,but the dedication to perma-nence persists.“We’re building our audiences for tomorrow,”as PaulBeard,managing director,has noted.“We present manyshows,and we’re at risk … [What] sustains the hall is ourconsistent success in presenting shows to our economic bene-fit.The purpose ofthat benefit is to cover the expense weincur in accommodating the resident companies.”Not to mention that the 2,056-seat hall,as designed byDavid M.SchwarzArchitectural Services Inc.,has settledinto the skyline as an iconic evocation ofthe classic Europeanopera-house style,with an inviting human-scale accessibility.Every show-business venture needs its “angels,”too – butthe angels adorning the Bass are literal as well as figurative:Marton Varo’s two 48-foot Grand Façade sculptures serve aheralding presence that has drawn any number ofvisitors tothe Commerce Street landmark — and suggest a guardian-ship over Bass Hall to match the Bass’proven guardianshipofthe fine and popular arts.
Contact Price at mprice@bizpress.net
By Michael H. Price
early 10 years have passed since theopening ofNancy Lee and Perry R.Bass Performance Hall as the lastgreat concert venue ofthe 20th centu-ry.The timing might as well have suggested the riseofa new century’s first great concert hall,for the Basswith its forward-thinking acoustical versatilityand its willingness to engage in the promotion of artistry for the sake ofart – anticipated a NewMillennium more so than it looked backward to itskindred ancestral showplaces ofthe Old World orearly-day America.A10th Anniversary Festival is a foregone conclu-sion.The dates are April 29–May 4,reflecting thewatershed opening of1998.The eventswill include these:An April 29 showcase for giftedschoolchildren,including performancesfrom the the Paschal High School JazzBand and the All-City Honor Choir.An admission-free performance April30 from roots-music ace Jack Ingram.Ajazz blowout May 1,featuring Chuck Mangione and Dianne Reeves.Aformal anniversary-date concertMay 3,featuring Liza Minnelli.And a May 4 gospel extravaganza fea-turing Fort Worth native Kirk Franklin.(Web:www.basshall.com)Along with the close-by Sid RichardsonMuseum,Bass Performance Hall has deci-sively stretched the boundaries ofFortWorth’s Cultural District to embrace thedowntown area.The Bass’masterstroke –apart from its savvy home-base affiliationswith the Fort Worth Symphony,TexasBallet Theatre,the Fort Worth Opera andthe Cliburn Competition – is that ofoper-ating a Children’s Education Program as aperpetual-motion function ofthe operat-ing agency,Performing Arts Fort Worth.The educational outreach assures thatschoolchildren from throughout the area are grantedaccess to musical finery as a matter ofroutine.The very acoustics ofthe hall have helped to honetheFort Worth Symphony,in particular,to a sonicnear-perfection that suggests candidacy for popularregard among the Top Five American orchestras.TheFW Symphony’s success with a recent début atNew York’s Carnegie Hall owes much to the stimu-lus ofthe orchestra’s extended workout in a fine localhall.Amore-than-figurative kinship between the Bassand the Carnegie derives in part from Bass-familyties to both institutions.There are more nuancedconnections,as well:In 2001,when the Van CliburnInternational Piano Competition settled into BassHall as a base ofoperations,I booked a classical-piano film festival into the nearby Palace Theatre asashow ofsolidarity – concentrating upon favoritemotion pictures selected by Van Cliburn himself.Oneofthe movies was Edgar G.Ulmer’s CarnegieHall (1947),whose array ofpersonalities includesthe celebrated conductor Artur Rodzinsky (1892-1958),father ofthe Cliburn Foundation’s RichardRodzinsky.Small world.As developer Edward P.Bass has explained:BassHall “was built entirely with privately contributedfunds,and it operates as a civic-oriented nonprofitfor the benefit ofour community.”Financial chal-lenges may surface from time to time,given the mer-
Bass Performance Hall
A10th anniversary
Bass Performance Hallhasdecisively stretchedthe boundaries ofFortWorth’s CulturalDistrict to embrace thedowntown area.
    P    H    O    T    O    B    Y    J    O    N    P .    U    Z    Z    E    L
Fort Worth Culture/Spring 08
he coastal panic of2005 sent many residents ofNew Orleans ranging farafield in advance ofthe onslaught ofHurricane Katrina.Fort Worth,prominent among the earliest Southwestern cities to lend refuge,becameas a result a new home base for the acclaimed percussionist Adonis Rose.Rose – who has worked with such marquee names as Harry Connick Jr.and WyntonMarsalis – returned the courtesy by founding the Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra,a 16-piece ensemble dedicated to a combination ofpreservation and newly commissionedartistry.From beginnings in association with Bass Performance Hall’s McDavid Studiosatellite,the Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra has performed and recorded extensively whileRose has persisted as a solo artist.His more recent projects include the development of an ensemble known as the N.O.Vaders,in addition to contributions to the musicalscoreofSpike Lee’s recent documentary film about the Katrina disaster,
Whenthe LeveesBroke
.Rose,born in 1975 in New Orleans,is hip to it that his town has always generatedmore jazz than it knows what to do with.The haunted Crescent City learned early ontoconsume all it can and then export the rest – a jazz-independent society that has ren-dered the rest ofthe world thoroughly dependent upon jazz.And all the better for it.The old-timers will swear that jazz,blaring forth from the brass and the reeds andthe Talking Drums ofAfrican origin,is the sonic levee that held a phantom menace atbay during New Orleans’Great Axe-Man Scare of1918–1919.Amid a siege ofwhole-sale murder,
The Times–Picayune
fielded a letter-to-the-editor from some fool professing tobe the rampaging Axe-Man – and vowing to spare the jazz enthusiasts.Call it BluesPassover.Did Buddy Bolden,that mighty founding bugler of19th-century jazz,propel NewOrleans into the culture-at-large? Maybe not in a direct sense,although those same old-timelegend-bearers who tell ofthe Axe-Man will aver that Bolden’s horn could beheard for miles away from wherever he happened to be blasting.Certainly,Bolden’sinfluence fueled the passions ofthose Orleanians who would range more freely throughspace and time – King Oliver,Jelly Roll Morton,Louis Armstrong,Sidney Bechét –seeding the music into Kansas City and Chicago and Manhattan and St.Louis andFort Worth.Since early on in the last century,Fort Worth has nurtured a jazz-and-blues heritagecomparable with that ofany other such burg short ofN.O.And how else to explainEudayBowman and Red Connor and Ornette Coleman and Tex Beneke and the arche-typaljazz-in-a-Stetson ofBob Wills? The localized influences have proved too varied,however,to permit one identity as iconic as that which Louis Armstrong has providedtoNew Orleans.A singer from Fort Worth named Milton Brown,who had insinuatedW.C.Handy’s “St.Louis Blues”into Wills’hoedown fiddle-band repertoire in 1929,interlaced Fred Calhoun’s jazz piano with prototypical Western Swing early in the
Adonis Rose & the Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra
Astorm-driven merger of traditions
By Michael H. Price
1930s with one crucial song:New Orleans’emblematic “Tiger Rag.”You get the picture.New Orleans,ofcourse,has disseminatedits indigenous music to telling effect since theday ofJelly Roll Morton,though with seldomapressing need to disperse its populace in thebargain.The onslaught ofHurricane Katrinasentinnumerable Louisianans inland to Texas.Adonis Rose,one in a jillion,came aground inFort Worth with his music as essential gear.And as a New Orleanian traditionalist-plus-innovator (or
N.O. Vader
,to crib from his play-ful terminology),Rose recognized Fort Worthstraightaway as fertile ground for a transplant.New Orleans’loss – Fort Worth’s gain,acknowledged with gratitude.Rose’s establish-ment ofthe Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra mergestheheritage ofboth cities in a striking manner.Rose’s N.O.Vaders ensemble advances theCrescent identity,reaching back and looking forward with nary a lapsed beat.“I miss New Orleans…,says Rose.“Butnow I feel it’s a perfect time for me to … bring myexperiences here,along with the music of New Orleans.”Ahistoric precedent bears remembering:Malcolm “Dr.John”Rebennack developed hisgreater identity as a musical ambassador fromNew Orleans only after he had sidetrackedhimselfto New York and L.A.in indignantresponse to a 20th-century catastrophe – JimGarrison’s politically motivated campaign tosanitize N.O.’s rambunctious French Quarter.Likewise,in a sense,with Adonis Rose.Bestofboth worlds.
Contact Price at mprice@bizpress.net
Since early on in thelast century,Fort Worth hasnurtured a jazz-and-blues heritagecomparable withthat ofany othersuchburg short of New Orleans.
Adonis Rose

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