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UHD Hosts Cultural Jazz Exchange with Texan French Alliance for the Arts

Last Friday, more than 200 Houstonians gathered for a cultural jazz exchange hosted by UHD and the Texan French Alliance for the Arts in UHD's Robertson Auditorium.

The event highlighted Houston's international arts community, as well as French and African-American contributions to jazz.

UHD President Bill Flores greeted attendees and noted that jazz has many unique cultural influences, which mirrors Houston's own great diversity and combination of cultural heritages. As a signature event of Citizenship Month, the concert brought together Houstonians of all backgrounds in a celebration of jazz and culture.

Noël Bezette-Flores, Ph.D., executive director of UHD's Center for Public Service and Family Strengths and co-chair of Citizenship Month, provided a welcome and elaborated on the initiative's impact in Houston. Houston's First Lady Kathy Hubbard also participated in the event and encouraged those in attendance to join their fellow Houstonians for the many Citizenship Month events scheduled throughout the month of November.

Attendees were treated to performances by Hungarian pianist Emil Spanyi and professional trumpeter Dennis Dotson, in addition to the music of UHD's Civic Jazz Orchestra and top middle and high school musicians from the Young Sounds of Houston.

Spanyi is a professor of piano, jazz composition and arrangement at the Paris Conservatory in France and the Lausanne Conservatory in Switzerland. He studied piano at celebrated academies in Hungary, Austria and Paris and has played with world-renowned jazz musicians, including Ray Brown, Clark Terry and Al Jarreau, among others.

Dotson, a professional trumpeter for the past 40 years, has played with the Woody Herman and Buddy Rich big bands and alongside noted musicians such as Joe Lovano, Joe Henderson and Marvin Stamm in Las Vegas, New York City and Houston. He also has performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and on numerous jazz recordings.

Through the work of Karine Parker-Lemoyne, executive director of TFAA, Air France served as a sponsor of the event and subsidized travel for the musicians. Robert Wilson, UHD lecturer, composer and winner of the Kemah Boardwalk Jazz Achievement Award, also was instrumental in organizing the concert.