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Leon Dachert

South Texas Jazz lovers probably know about Primetime Jazz Orchestra led by John Magaldi. He’s one of those band leaders who spreads around the praise to the other members of his band.

"I don’t have ‘leader-itus,’ he quipped during a recent interview with Texas Public Radio.

“ I kick off the tempos and so forth, but the band is made up of some of the best musicians in the country."

Robert Merrill

A local Jazz Festival kicks in on Friday night.

"It’s one of the largest free concerts in the region and it’s recognized throughout the state. People come from all over," said producer Lorenzo Nastasi.

It’s called the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival and it’s known primarily for smooth jazz. But it’s not all just that.

“We’ve had performers that do some Latin Jazz. And one of the things I’ve tried to do more in the last couple of years is bring in more women performers,” said Nastasi.

Peanut butter and jelly. Abbott and Costello. New Orleans and marching bands.

Some things are inseparable.

The city best known for hot jazz is a wellspring of talented musicians. Where do they all come from? Oftentimes it's great teachers — like Sam Venable, the band director at Langston Hughes Academy, a middle school on Trafalgar Street.

Hear the story of great teaching at the top of the page. You can also hear this clip of Venable playing at his grandmother's 90th birthday: