Monday, March 31, 2014

April is Jazz Appreciation Month

Along with more suitably spring-like weather here in St. Louis, and the start of baseball season - always a major local event here in the Gateway City - the first of April also signals the beginning of Jazz Appreciation Month, the annual celebration of jazz music sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.

Now in its 13th year, 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."

The theme of this year's JAM celebration is “Jazz Alchemy: A Love Supreme,” in tribute to legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and the 50th anniversary of his composition "A Love Supreme." The original score of the work will be on display as part of the "American Stories" exhibition at the Smithsonian through June 17, 2014.

At the end of the month, jazz fans worldwide also will celebrate the third annual International Jazz Day on Wednesday, April 30. Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Jazz Day is designed to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.

Osaka, Japan is the 2014 host city, but various related events will take place in cities all over the world, including a live broadcast of an all-star concert streamed over the Internet. At the end of this post, you can see a short promotional video for International Jazz Day featuring Herbie Hancock, and, if it's made available to bloggers again this year, StLJN will present the live stream of the concert right here on April 30, too.

Meanwhile, if you can't wait to get started, the Smithsonian offers a list of "112 ways to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month," and once again has produced a poster honoring a famous musician. This year's JAM poster (pictured) features an image of Coltrane by artist Joseph Holston.

The posters were distributed for free to schools, libraries, music and jazz educators, music merchants and manufacturers, radio stations, arts presenters, and U.S. embassies worldwide, and anyone can download a copy in .pdf format here. You also can see and download commemorative posters from the previous 12 years here.

Finally, in support of both Jazz Appreciation Month and International Jazz Day, the Jazz Journalists Association has launched a promotional effort under the name JazzApril, with suggestions on how to commemorate the occasion for individuals, organizations, businesses, media outlets and more.

To help raise awareness of the effort, the JJA also has asked bloggers and media outlets to display a JazzApril logo, pictured at left. Look for it on the StLJN sidebar starting tomorrow.

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