JAM's mission is 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.
As a long-time supporter of jazz music and jazz education programs, BMI is proud to be an anchor sponsor of Jazz Appreciation Month for the third consecutive year. Other partners and sponsors include the U.S. Department of Education, MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), the Grammy Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, PBS and the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.
April was chosen for JAM to honor the birthdays of such jazz legends as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Tito Puente, Charles Mingus and Gerry Mulligan, and to give school ensembles time to develop and rehearse concerts that can be tied into the event. On August 18, 2003, President George W. Bush signed Public Law 108-72, which urges organizations to develop programs "to explore, perpetuate, and honor jazz as a national and world treasure." In addition, governors in several states have signed proclamations declaring April to be Jazz Appreciation Month; they include Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina, Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania, Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin and Mayor Anthony Williams of the District of Columbia (to be announced April 2).
The Smithsonian operates the world's most comprehensive set of jazz programs-it collects jazz artifacts, documents, recordings, and oral histories; curates exhibitions and traveling exhibitions; operates its own big band, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra; publishes books and recordings on jazz; offers fellowships for research in its collections; and offers concerts, educational workshops, master classes, lectures, seminars, and symposia.
With a impressive roster of jazz legends that includes Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton and Charles Mingus, as well as today's new jazz stars like Norah Jones, Kevin Eubanks, Joshua Redman, Mark Whitfield and Bobby Watson, BMI has supported jazz from the start and continues today with programs such as the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, the BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize, and the BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Composers Competition.