As we always like to remind folks around this time of year, April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), an annual event created by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History "to draw greater public attention to the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz and its importance as an American cultural heritage."
In addition, JAM is "intended to stimulate the current jazz scene and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz — to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and support institutional jazz programs."
To promote the event, once again the Smithsonian has commissioned a poster of a jazz legend; this year's poster (pictured) features a classic Al Hirschfeld caricature of clarinet player and bandleader Benny Goodman, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Goodman's birth. The museum has printed 250,000 posters for free distribution to music and jazz educators, librarians, music merchants and manufacturers, radio stations, arts presenters, and U.S. embassies worldwide. To request a copy, send an email to email@example.com. You can also download the poster (pictured) in PDF format.
To help interested listeners find jazz events during the month, The Smithsonian also publishes a calendar of JAM-related events nationwide.
And while no St. Louis presenters have announced plans for a formal celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, the schedule of local concerts for April certainly has plenty of activity, including performances in the first two weeks of the month from banjo player Bela Fleck and the Africa Project; "The Genius of Eddie Henderson" with pianist Eric Reed and singers Carla Cook and Allan Harris; singer Jan Shapiro; poet/author Ntozake Shange with saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett; the Matt Wilson Quartet; Jazz Attack featuring saxophonist Richard Elliot, trumpeter Rick Braun and singer/guitarist Jonathan Butler; the Wee Trio; Gutbucket; saxophonist Greg Osby's "St. Louis Shoes" project with guest soloist Willie Akins; and the NIU Jazz Ensemble with special guest Benny Golson on saxophone.
Later in April, look for shows from trumpeter Sean Jones; guitarist John Jorgenson; the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival with Peter Erskine, Jon Faddis, Lou Marini and John Pizzarelli; the Dixie Daredevils; ambient music group Mountains; and the Yellowjackets with guitarist Mike Stern. You can find listings for all these performances, and perhaps plan your own personal celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, by visiting the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar.