KTSU 90.9 FM is Houston’s only jazz radio station and serves as a catalyst for focusing on the varying issues and trends that impact America’s most original art form. As a part of that initiative and to highlight those individuals from the City of Houston who have made major contributions to jazz, the KTSU Jazz Hall of Fame was inaugurated in September 2008 to honor those accomplishments. Most notably, all measure of achievement was included in selecting individuals as inductees; as such is the case, the first inaugural class consisted of educators, former members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and former alumni of the TSU Jazz Ensemble.
As one examines the rich legacy and tradition of the Houston jazz scene, honoring these individuals is pale in comparison to their contributions towards elevating the consciousness of jazz as America’s one true art form. The ladies and gentlemen of the 2008 KTSU Jazz Hall of Fame include:
Barrie Lee Hall – (June 30, 1949 – January 24, 2011) – Barrie Lee Hall, Jr. was a trumpet player, music director, composer and arranger was discovered by pianist Duke Ellington while attending Texas Southern University. Joining Ellington’s band in June 1973, Hall played under the direction of Duke, Mercer (Ellington’s son), and Paul Ellington, when Mercer Ellington passed away, Barrie served as conductor for one year and then as an alternate under Paul for many years thereafter. Hall credits Sammy D. Harris his high school band director at Evan E. Worthing with jump starting his career in jazz. He also credits Texas tenor Arnett Cobb, trumpeter Cootie Williams as major influences as well; before Williams passed away, Cootie gave Barrie his trumpet. For many years, Barrie Lee Hall devoted himself to exposing church audiences all over the world to the music of Edward Kennedy Ellington.
Hubert Laws – (November 10, 1939) – Hubert Laws has a career that spans more than 50 years as a contributor to the classical, pop, rock, r&b and jazz music scene. His introduction to jazz began at 15 years of age in Houston as a member of the Swingsters, Modern Jazz Sextet and Night Hawks, groups that would ultimately become The Crusaders. Hubert even has siblings who are stellar artists as well, they include Debra, Eloise and Ronnie Laws. As one of the true flute jazz masters and is classically trained, Laws has recorded extensively with any number of noteworthy individuals, including Jack DeJohnette, Creed Taylor, Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Bob James, Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald to name a few. He has also performed throughout the world with numerous classical / opera orchestras. Hubert Laws is a three time Grammy Award nominee, has garnered many other awards and accolades that includes a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award.