Thursday, March 31, 2016

April is Jazz Appreciation Month

It's time once again to get ready for Jazz Appreciation Month, the annual celebration of jazz music sponsored every April by the Smithsonian Institution.

Now in its 15th 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."

This year, JAM is honoring saxophonist and composer Benny Carter, who's being celebrated as a founding father of big band swing who "who made major contributions to the development of jazz, helped define the role of the alto saxophone, and whose work helped break down boundaries in the music and entertainment industries." You can learn more about him at the Smithsonian's website.

At the end of the month, jazz fans worldwide also will celebrate the fifth annual International Jazz Day on Saturday, 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.

Washington DC will be the host city for 2015, and on the evening of April 30, the ABC television network will broadcast "Jazz at the White House," an all-star concert featuring Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall, Sting, and more. The concert will be one of hundreds of related events taking place in cities all over the world.

Meanwhile, if you can't wait to get started, the Smithsonian offers a list of "ways to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month," and has produced a poster (pictured) honoring Carter.

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 14 years of JAM here.

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