It’s become a well-honored tradition to celebrate the musical genre called “Jazz” every April. It’s roots can be traced back to the early 1900’s, with the creation of African-American music elements developed from European harmonies. The first jazz music was created in New Orleans around 1910.
As Jazz flourished during the 20th Century, the genre also created different styles of Jazz. These formats included big band swing, Kansas City jazz, and Gypsy jazz from the 1930s and 1940s; bebop from the mid-1940s; and on down through West Coast jazz, cool jazz, avant-garde jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, Latin jazz in various forms, soul jazz, jazz fusion, and jazz rock, jazz-funk, punk jazz, acid jazz, ethno jazz, jazz rap, cyber jazz, Indo jazz, M-Base, nu jazz, and of course smooth jazz.
This year, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC celebrates jazz in a big way, as it honors three legendary jazz masters.
Lionel Hampton’s Smithsonian story has an unmistakable vibe. His image on the 2013 JAM poster is created from artwork by Frederick J. Brown on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. A set of vibes Hampton donated to the Smithsonian jazz collection in 2001 will be played at special jazz events.
Randy Weston is renowned for illuminating linkages between African rhythms and jazz. His perspective is embodied in works like his Uhuru Afrika, collaborations with Gnaoua musicians of Morocco, and his promotion of the legacy of James Reese Europe. Weston will join the Smithsonian in presenting a concert and onstage discussion to showcase this history.
John Levy was a successful African American jazz business manager during a period of American history when few black men commanded respect and fair business dealings for themselves, much less others. Levy delivered both, managing artists from jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson (who remained a client until Levy’s death)to British pianist George Shearing, among others, with integrity and keen business acumen on the strength of his handshake and courage.
The institute, along with the US State Department has also designated April 22nd as “Embassy Jazz Day” to recognize the contributions of Jazz music around the world. In addition, Jazz Appreciation month will conclude with it’s inaugural International Jazz Day on April 30th, with concerts taking place in various locations across the country.
There’s many things you can do as well to celebrate jazz. Consider going to a Jazz concert in your area. Pick up a book or and e-book about a famous jazz artist. How about dancing to jazz? Or watch a movie about jazz, such as “’round Midnight” or “Bird“.
Smooth Jazz and More is doing it’s part by adding Jazz classics to our regular playlist, including legendary tracks by Billie Hoiliday, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and many more artists who made jazz what it is today. Our celebration of Jazz continues during the month of April.
Jazz…Born in America, Enjoyed Worldwide.
For more information, visit smithsonianjazz.org.