The recent showing of Ken Burns's Jazz series on PBS brought attention to how much public interest there is in one of America's greatest art forms. And because of this interest, the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution has initiated a program that will focus that attention on an annual basis: Jazz Apprecation Month (JAM). The event will be held every April starting in 2002. BMI, home of some of the most important jazz artists on the scene today including Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Medeski Martin & Wood, Joe Lovano and Keith Jarrett, will be one of the institutional sponsors of the program. Other sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Association for Music Education and the International Association of Jazz Educators, among others.
Seen here at the recent press conference at the Smithsonian announcing Jazz Appreciation Month are (l-r): Dr. John Hasse, Curator of American Music, National Museum of American History; Dr. David Baker, Chairman, Jazz Department, Indiana University and Musical & Artistic Director, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra; and Dr. David Sanjek, Director, BMI Archives.
JAM's main focus is to draw attention to the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz by highlighting its joys, power and glories through concerts, programs and the exhibition of museum collections held at the Smithsonian. Ideas and suggestions on how local communities and other organizations can initiate their own educational and cultural activities spotlighting jazz will be made available on the Smithsonian's web site at SmithsonianJazz.org.
JAM will be celebrated in April for two reasons. April maximizes the educational potential since it is the last month that colleges and universities as well as many high schools are in session. April is also the birth month of many major jazz artists including BMI legends such as Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock and Lionel Hampton.