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Plan Ahead- 2014 Jazz Appreciation Month

Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM)–April 2014–is just around the corner. Affiliates have the opportunity to participate in FREE Media Training/Networking webinars organized by The Jazz Journalists Association (JJA). The JJA program will help Affiliate organizations use JAM as an opportunity to broaden their outreach to local communities and media outlets and to network with local jazz influencers.

Poster art designed by Fritz Klaetke, art director for JAZZ: The Smithsonian Anthology.

Poster art designed by Fritz Klaetke, art director for JAZZ: The Smithsonian Anthology.

Three online webinars will discuss the use of social media and on working with local online and traditional media to

  • Increase local awareness of JAM and the institution’s JAM-related events.
  • Build the institution’s ongoing social media presence.
  • Reach under-served local communities.
  • Connect with other local institutions and individuals involved in jazz and related cultural production.

The exact content of the interactive webinars will be determined by survey results. Click here to take the survey!

Follow Jazz Appreciation Month on Facebook for updates and tweet your activities to @CelebrateJAM #CelebrateJAM.

For Jazz Appreciation Month, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum is the place to be

Special thanks for this guest post to Dr. David Taft Terry, Executive Director, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Baltimore, Maryland.  

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture will celebrate this wonderful art form with great enthusiasm.  For more than a century, jazz has been the sound of democracy; it has grown and expanded as an expression of freedom around the world.  Drawn from African and European influences and developed in the distinctive historical milieu of the American Experience, jazz is “us” – all of us.  And, from ragtime to swing, bop to avante garde, Latin to contemporary, expressions of jazz are as diverse as the musicians that create it.  Jazz is my favorite music. 

Spice Band performs April 1, 2011. Photo courtesy of the band.

Maryland and her citizens have played critical roles in the development of jazz from its beginnings, and that influence continues to the present day: Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb, Billie Holiday, Ethel Ennis, Lester Bowie, Winard Harper, Cyrus Chestnut, Dontae Winslow, Lafayette Gilchrist, Carl Grubbs – the list goes on!  You can learn about jazz history in Maryland in the “Pennsylvania Avenue” installation inside our Strength of the Mind gallery, one of the permanent galleries located on the third floor of our museum.  You can experience jazz live through our exciting Jazz Appreciation Month programs.   

I invite you to join us this April.  

Reginald F. Lewis Museum Jazz Appreciation Month Programs:

Friday, April 1, 7:30 p.m. 
FIRST FRIDAYS: Spice Band featuring Vocalist Debbie Poole
Poole brings her unique vocals to classic Phyllis Hyman songs such as “Meet Me on the Moon” and “The Answer Is You.”
Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members. Doors open at 7 p.m. Sponsored in part by AARP (includes light food and drinks) 

Saturday, April 16, 3 p.m.
Drama Presentation: “Satchmo and Baby Dolly”
Explore the special bond between early jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Baltimore native Blanche Calloway in this toe-tapping drama by Camay Calloway Murphy and Randy Smith.
Museum admission required. 

Saturday, April 30, Noon
SATURDAY’S CHILD: Music Program: Jazz for Kids (Ages 6-12)
Enjoy children’s songs performed by the Baltimore Jazz Alliance, and try jazz instruments including the flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano, bass and drums.
Museum admission required. 

Saturday, April 30, 2 p.m.
Book Talk: Music at the CrossRoads, Lives & Legacies of Baltimore Jazz
Uncover Baltimore’s rich jazz history with editor Mark Osteen, Loyola University professor and president of Baltimore Jazz Alliance, and co-writers Jennifer Margaret Nordmark and Bob Jacobsen.
Museum admission required. 

For more information, please visit our website.

For more information about JAM programs, visit the National Museum of American History’s Smithsonian Jazz website.

it’s not too early to plan for jazz appreciation month!

The 2011 JAM poster featuring Mary Lou Williams

This April is the 10th Anniversary of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM!)   As always, there are many ways to commemorate this unique American art form at your museum. 

Joann Stevens, program director for JAM Initiatives at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), shared information about the programs and resources available to help plan your Jazz Appreciation month event.  “This year JAM celebrates 10 years of advancing appreciation of jazz as America’s original music.  Smithsonian Affiliations has been a great partner in this mission.  Let’s work to strengthen our relationship in 2011 and beyond.  We invite you to order bulk copies of JAM posters for your programs  and send us information to promote your JAM museum and community events on the JAM website, and connect with us via social media.”

 JAM’s 2011 theme honors the history of overlooked musicians, “Women in Jazz: Transforming a Nation.”  The programs at NMAH will tell the story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and their beginnings at Piney Woods School in Mississippi, “the school that music built.”  The Sweethearts gained global recognition as the nation’s first integrated female band, founded in 1937.  Like many other women at the time, the Sweethearts confronted dual biases of gender and race and excelled during a period in history when many Southern blacks lived in slavery without chains and women were second class citizens.  Another female jazz pioneer, Mary Lou Williams, is the face of this year’s celebrations; her portrait by Keith Henry Brown is the centerpiece for JAM’s poster. 

You can learn more about programming on the program’s website, facebook page and follow JAM on twitter.  And keep a lookout for a special webcast of a Latin jazz percussion workshop on April 7th. More details to come!

And don’t forget programming from a Smithsonian Affiliate in New York City, the Jazz Museum in Harlem.  Their executive director, Loren Schoenberg, is once again offering to lead a special program for Affiliates.  Learn more here.  

To get you in a Jazz mood and begin your programming, check out NMAH’s recent tribute blog to Billy Taylor, Jazz’ Elder Statesman.  Enjoy!

smithsonian jazz comes to omaha

Thanks to the Durham Museum’s distance learning coordinator Mike Irwin for this guest post. 

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra performing at the Durham Museum.

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra performing at the Durham Museum.

It was late afternoon and the current visitors at the Durham Museum began to filter out, replaced by Jazz enthusiasts of all ages ready for a concert to remember. They were here to be entertained (and educated) by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO).  They certainly got what they came for!

Jazz at the Durham Museum in Omaha Nebraska? Three years ago the Durham began celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month and the interest from the community has been tremendous. Mick Hale, director of education at the Durham stated, “As a proud Affiliate of the Smithsonian we are always looking for ways to expand our relationship with the Smithsonian and to provide our community with access to great programs such as the jazz appreciation program provided by the SJMO. ”

Durham Museum's Executive Director Christi Jannsen with SJMO's Artistic and Musical Director David Baker

Durham Museum's Executive Director Christi Janssen with SJMO's Artistic and Musical Director Dr. David N. Baker

The community offering began with an evening performance at the Holland Performing Arts Center by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.  The evening opened with a special lecture by Dr. David N. Baker, the orchestra’s artistic and musical director, followed by a big band jazz performance.

The two-day “on-site” schedule was extensive, taking the SJMO to schools around the Omaha area for two and a half hour workshops connecting with over 400 students from eight high schools, two junior highs, and two colleges.

Dr. David Baker warming-up the crowd at the Durham Museum.

Dr. David N. Baker warming-up the crowd at the Durham Museum.

SJMO unpacked and set up for their final public performance at the Durham Museum’s Stanley and Dorothy Truhlsen Lecture Hall.  The setting for the performance couldn’t have been more appropriate. The Durham Museum, formally a grand train station, was built in 1931 with a strong Art Deco influence. Thousands of passengers passed though the doors each day during the station’s operation.  Today when you walk through the Great Hall you can almost hear a Count Basie or Duke Ellington melody. When all were seated and the lights went down, Dr. Baker began the evening with an engaging brief history of Jazz highlighting the great musicians and their contribution to this American musical phenomena. His low-key, humorous overview put the mid-western audience at ease and ready for a great jazz performance.

SJMO alto saxophonist Scott Silbert ‘s narration sprinkled between songs citing little know facts and tips on what to add to your jazz collection only added to the overall interest in the musical selection of iconic jazz tunes.

As one participant commented in an e-mail about the night, “Needless to say a fun time was had by all…and everyone was tapping their feet to the music all evening.  I’m still tapping my feet this morning!”

SJMO performing for guests at the Durham Museum.

SJMO performing for guests at the Durham Museum.