April is Jazz Appreciation Month
Get ready to enjoy JAM!
Jazz is a historical, cultural and living American treasure.
That's why the Smithsonian Institution launched National Jazz Appreciation Month in 2001 to pay tribute to jazz as a living art form. It has grown to include celebrations in all 50 states and in 40 countries.
The Smithsonian houses a huge jazz collection that includes Duke Ellington's unpublished music, Ella Fitzgerald's red dress, Dizzy Gillespie's angled trumpet, and Benny Goodman's clarinet.
Jazz comes in many forms: ragtime, bebop, the blues, soul, Dixieland, big-band, fusion, Latin, funk, and the list goes on. JAM, as the month-long tribute is called, encourages every musician, concert hall, school band and orchestra to offer special programs.
The April 2013 theme is Salute to Great Ensembles of Jazz. Those that make the list are likely dependent upon the listener's ear for sounds and styles, but some of the most well known and loved ensembles include:
Best quintets: Miles Davis Quintet and Louis Armstrong's Hot Five. Best sextets: Miles Davis Sextet and the Benny Goodman Sextet. Best big bands: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton and Billy Eckstine
Duke Ellington is considered one of the most important big-band leaders and he became hugely popular. He was responsible for making jazz an art form similar to classical music. Ellington received 13 Grammy awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Commemorative U.S. quarter.
This month, dig out and play your old records by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella, Lena Horne or Nancy Wilson. Visit a used record store and learn about the history of jazz by thumbing through the albums.
Steep yourself in the swing rhythm, polyrhythm, improvisation and syncopation that represent the almost exclusive characteristics of jazz music.