DocFest Bonus Concert featuring Bob James

Bob James

Due to hurricane Harvey this event was canceled for Friday, September 1, 2017; 7:30 pm at HSPVA’s Denney Theatre.  Bob James has agreed to join us on December 29th for the “main event” DocFest.

In addition to the December “main event,” DocFest is pleased to present an annual “bonus concert,” this year featuring one of the best and most successful pianists in the history of jazz: BOB JAMES.  Mr. James will appear at HSPVA’s Denney Theatre on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017; 7:30 pm.  HSPVA combo will open.

Bob’s distinguished career is highlighted by his appearances on 60 albums, with eight Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards.  He is perhaps best known as composer for the entire run of TV’s sitcom, Taxi, including the popular theme, Angela.

Last September’s sold-out bonus concert was headlined by the late, great, Al Jarreau, which turned out to be one of Mr. Jarreau’s last appearances.  It’s fitting that Al’s rhythm section will accompany Bob James:

Chris Walker, bass (HSPVA ’86; DocFest Co-founder and President; member, HSPVA Jazz Hall of Fame)

Mark Simmons, drums (HSPVA ’93)

John Calderon, guitar

Tickets go on sale June 1.  A sell-out is assured, so prompt purchase is recommended!

Small world footnote: Bob James’ career path was ignited when Quincy Jones discovered him at the 1962 Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, Bob then a student at the University of Michigan.  Mr. Jones was part of the adjudication panel (which also included Henry Mancini) that, in addition to honoring Bob, selected DocFest’s Robert “Doc” Morgan as “Most Promising Arranger” of the entire festival (Doc then a student at the University of North Texas).

Purchase Tickets


DocFest 2017

The Wortham Center is being renovated after the devastation from Harvey but the show must go on!  DocFest has been moved to The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Denney Theatre, located at 4001 Stanford St., Houston, TX 77006. The concert will take place on Friday, December 29, 2017 at 7:30 P.M.  General Admission tickets for $25.00 and Preferred Tickets for $50.00 are still available. There will be a jam session in the Commons for all who wish to attend.  A VIP reception will also take place after the concert in the Recital Hall for VIP and Preferred Ticket holders.


Jazz Scholarship

Upon the opening of New York’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (NS/J) in 1986, there was an immediate bond between NS/J and Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), thanks to the outreach of NS/J’s founding artistic director, Arnie Lawrence (1938 – 2005). Largely due to Mr. Lawrence’s efforts, HSPVA bassist Chris Walker was a member of NS/J’s very first student body, having been heavily “recruited” by Arnie. In the subsequent years, many of HSPVA’s best jazz students have enrolled at NS/J, virtually all with substantial scholarship support from the university.

Robert “Doc” Morgan retired in 1999 after a twenty-three year career as Director of Jazz Studies at HSPVA. To commemorate his career and the invaluable opportunities afforded HSPVA graduates by NS/J, in August, 1999, Doc and Helen Morgan, in partnership with the SBC Foundation, endowed the “Helen and Bob Morgan Jazz Scholarship” at the New School. One “Morgan Scholar” is chosen each year, with he/she receiving a substantial tuition credit from the endowment fund. The student must be a graduate of HSPVA, and, once awarded, the scholarship may be renewed to same student for a total of four years (assuming he/she remains in good standing, etc.).

Recipients to date include:
2000: Alan Hampton (bass/singer/songwriter)
2003: Chase Jordan (vibraphone)
2007: Corey King (trombone)
2008: Cory Cox (drums)
2011: Brenton Johnson (piano)
2013: Sterling Overshown (piano)
2017: Bryant Hunter (drums)



Learn more about HSPVA

The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) is a public high school in Houston, Texas, and is part of the Houston Independent School District, the seventh-largest school system in the nation. Its founding, in 1971, can be traced to the keen visions of two legendary educators:

Ruth Denney

• Ruth Denney, Founding Principal
• Dr. George Garver, the forward-thinking HISD Superintendent of Schools, 1970 – 1974

Ms. Denney and Dr. Garver admired New York’s famed fine arts high school (LaGuardia), and felt that HISD had grown in numbers and talent to the extent that such a program could be established for the gifted youth of Houston, without adversely affecting the many excellent neighborhood high schools. This was before the now-familiar term, “magnet school,” was coined, but the concept was identical.

After many months of planning, HSPVA opened its doors in the fall of 1971 in an abandoned synagogue just south of downtown Houston. The school was successful from day one (a surprise to many), and has since evolved to become one of the most renowned arts training programs in the world, with curricula offered in Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts; also with traditional high school academic offerings of the highest caliber.

Ruth Denney shepherded HSPVA through its early years, and then departed in 1976 to become Professor of Theatre at the University of Texas/Austin. She retired from UT in 1988, remaining in Austin until her death in 2007 at age 92. Among her many significant honors:

• HSPVA’s performance hall is named, in perpetuity, The Ruth Denney Theatre
• The Ruth Denney Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Theatre at the University of Texas, established at the time of her retirement

Further information about HSPVA, including audition details, is available at the school’s website:


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