Smithsonian Celebrates Global Reach of Jazz during Jazz Appreciation Month
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will mark the 12th annual Jazz Appreciation Month with a global cultural perspective April 9, receiving jazz artifacts from the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Randy Weston and Latin Jazz drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez. A financial gift from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation will establish the first endowment fund to support JAM, a month-long celebration advancing appreciation of jazz as America’s original music.
Weston, a jazz pianist, composer and bandleader, is best known for his cultural exploration over five decades of jazz’s links to African roots and rhythms. He will donate the African attire he wore in 2011 when honored by King Mohammed VI of Morocco for bringing the country’s Gnaoua music traditions to the western world. Cuban-born Hernandez will give a purple drum kit with a special cowbell designed by him for drummers who play Latin rhythms, which represents his “fusion” style.
This year’s JAM 2013 programs include free performances by Weston and Hernandez as well as talks, tours and family-oriented events in venues around Washington, D.C., under the theme “The Spirit and Rhythms of Jazz.” Highlights include the April 9 “Latin Jazz Jam!,” co-presented with the George Washington University, that includes a concert with Hernandez and Giovanni Hidalgo and Weston’s April 10 “Nubian Suite” concert with music and historical narrative from his jazz opus. NEA Jazz Master Candido Camero will be the featured guest performer with Weston’s African Rhythms in the museum’s Warner Bros. Theater with a first-come, first-accommodated seating policy.
On April 26, jazz artist and composer John Clayton will join the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in a tribute to NEA Jazz Master John Levy, a bassist who gained acclaim beginning in the 1940s for his business savvy as the country’s first African American jazz business manager. His clients ranged from British pianist George Shearing to jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson.
A full schedule of events at the Smithsonian is available online as well as links to resources and oral histories and more at http://smithsonianjazz.org/. As part of its educational mission, more than 100,000 posters featuring Lionel Hampton have been distributed to schools, organizations and government agencies in the U.S. and abroad through the Department of Education, the U.S. State Department and other collaborators. April 30 is International Jazz Day, which will be marked by an international event in Istanbul, co-sponsored by UNESCO and the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz.
The lead sponsor for JAM 2013 is the Argus Fund. Additional funding is provided by BMI, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation and the National Park Service. The museum launched JAM in 2001 as an annual event that pays tribute to jazz both as a historic and living American art form. It has since grown to include celebrations in all 50 states and 40 other countries. In celebrating JAM, the museum joins with a diverse group of organizations, institutions, corporations, associations and federal agencies that have provided financial and in-kind support, as well as organizing programs and outreach of their own.
The Smithsonian operates the world’s most comprehensive set of jazz programs and the National Museum of American History is home to jazz collections that include 100,000 pages of Duke Ellington’s unpublished music and such objects as Ella Fitzgerald’s famous red dress, Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet, John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” manuscript and Benny Goodman’s clarinet. A number of jazz treasures, including Gillespie’s trumpet, Tony Bennett’s oil painting of Fitzgerald and Herbie Hancock’s cordless keyboard are on display on the second floor. To contribute to the JAM Endowment, contact the Office of External Affairs at 202-633-4334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra was founded in 1990 with an appropriation from the U.S. Congress in recognition of the importance of jazz in American culture and its status as a national treasure. The 17-member big band, led by conductor and artistic director Charlie Young, serves as the orchestra-in-residence at the National Museum of American History. Its concerts include transcribed works, as well as new arrangements, commissioned works and programs that illuminate the contributions of small ensembles and jazz masters who contributed to the development of American jazz and defined the music’s character. Tickets are required for SJMO performances. More information about the SJMO is available at www.sjmo.org.
The National Museum of American History is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu.
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