Thursday, March 31, 2011

April is Jazz Appreciation Month

Once again in 2011, April has been declared Jazz Appreciation Month by the Smithsonian Institution.

Jazz Appreciation Month (or JAM) was created "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."

This is the tenth anniversary year of JAM, and the Smithsonian this year is spotlighting the legacies of jazz women, and their advocates, who "helped transform race, gender and social relations in the U.S. in the quest to build a more just and equitable nation." As part of that focus, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the nation’s first integrated, all-female big band, will be remembered in a museum display and in special online and public programming offered by the National Museum of American History.

For those who can't get to the museum in Washington DC, the Smithsonian offers a list of "112 ways to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month" and once again has produced a poster honoring a famous jazz musician.

This year's JAM poster (pictured) was created by Keith Henry Brown, former art director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and features pianist and bandleader Mary Lou Williams. The Smithsonian distributes the posters for free to schools, libraries, music and jazz educators, music merchants and manufacturers, radio stations, arts presenters, and U.S. embassies worldwide. To request a copy, write

Also, anyone can download a copy of the 2011 poster featuring Mary Lou Williams in .pdf format here, and see and download the commemorative posters from previous years here.

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