Saturday, March 31, 2018

April is Jazz Appreciation Month

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

Now in its 17th 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 "celebrates the relationship between jazz and justice by looking beyond the music to the dynamic ways jazz has played a transformative role in social justice, musician's rights, and equality since its birth in America."

To tell this story, for the first time JAM will not feature a musician, but instead highlight "one of the most influential non-musicians in jazz history," producer Norman Granz, who "devoted his life to civil rights and equality - within the music industry and beyond. Through numerous record labels and his iconic touring show, Jazz at the Philharmonic, he helped propel many jazz musicians to greatness." You can learn more about Granz at the Smithsonian's website.

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

The "global host city" for 2018 is Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, and though there will be an all-star International Jazz Day concert, no plans have been announced yet regarding a broadcast or webcast of that show. There also will be hundreds of related events taking place in cities all over the world (though, alas, there are none scheduled here in Missouri).

In the meantime, 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 Granz and six musicians - bassist Charles Mingus, clarinetist Benny Goodman, and saxophonists Gerry Mulligan, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane - whose careers intersected in some way with the producer and impresario.

The second in a three-year series featuring a triptych of artwork by LeRoy Neiman, the 2018 posters are 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 request  a copy here. You also can see and download commemorative posters from the previous 16 years of JAM here.

No comments: