The Houston Museum of African American Culture’s (HMAAC) latest one-week installation, “The Jazz Church of Houston” by local artist and radio personality Tierney Malone, ends Saturday, April 2. After that date, the installation will move to a 3D virtual interactive space on the HMAAC website as a living archive.
So, for those interested in learning about the vital and foundational role Houston and the many artists it has produced over the decades, has played in making jazz the globally-respected art form that it is, only have a few days to see this exhibit in person.
Malone said he originally created the exhibit years ago to meet two challenges.
“The first thing is, I’ve always wondered why we don’t have a museum that celebrates our amazing history in jazz, Afro-classical music, past and present,” said Malone. “But I’ve also heard many musicians that I’ve interviewed over the years on my radio show “Houston Jazz Spotlight” (KPFT 90.1 FM, Wednesdays from 6p.m. – 8p.m.), musicians like Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, you name them, who have lamented the fact that we don’t have a world-class jazz club. So, I created ‘The Jazz Church of Houston’ to address those two issues back in 2016 when I did the Project Rowhouse exhibit.”
Malone said interest and demand from the community caused me to keep the exhibit going over the years in various forms.
“This installation at the HMAAC is actually the largest exhibition dedicated to Houston’s jazz in history of the city that I know of. And, it’s going to be a virtual exhibition at HMAAC for perpetuity,” said Malone, who was born in Los Angeles, raised in Mississippi and based in Houston’s Third Ward.
While there are museums in Texas dedicated to music, a space does not exist that chronicles the jazz history of Houston. After conversations with HMAAC CEO John Guess, Jr. Malone agreed to make the temporary installation much bigger and to allow it to become a living archive on the HMAAC website sharing the story of Houston’s musical tribe.
“We felt that we had to find a way to have Malone’s work enlarged and made permanent for our audiences,” said HMAAC CEO John Guess Jr. “Through his labor and artistry we have taken “The Jazz Church” to a level that makes it accessible to a broader public.”
Malone agrees with Guess.
“We need a space that celebrates that amazing history, because you can’t talk about jazz in America without taking about Texas. But, you definitely can’t talk about jazz in America without talking about Houston, Texas. I make that plane every week on my radio show, and I’m hoping that this exhibition hips the people who come through it to see. We’re not New Orleans, but we are the jazz capital of Texas.
The name “Jazz Church” draws its name from the Church of John Coltrane in San Francisco. Established in 1970, the church uses Coltrane’s music as an expression of worship. At HMAAC, Malone pays particular homage to Houston jazz greats Arnett Cobb, Milt Larkin, Eddie “Clean Head” Vinson and Jewel Brown.
Malone, the visual artist and storyteller, uses African American history and pop culture to create mixed-media works that challenge contemporary culture and politics.
“The Jazz Church of Houston” is sponsored by H-E-B and HMAAC’s Board of Directors.