April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), dedicated to call the public’s attention to the wonderful sounds of jazz and to embrace it as part of America’s cultural heritage.
The move to designate JAM was spearheaded by The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Throughout the years they enlisted the support of multiple government agencies and public organizations, and in 2003 the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States passed legislation supporting their initiative.
The month of April was selected for two reasons: 1. because it is towards the end of the academic year and school jazz ensembles are in the best shape to celebrate with public concerts; and 2. because April is curiously the birth month of several jazz icons like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Tito Puente, and Duke Ellington.
One of JAM’s goals is to encourage public venues, educational institutions, and broadcasters to highlight jazz with special programs during the month of April. At an individual level, JAM wants to energize people to listen to jazz, read about it, and support any events available.
You can be part of JAM by attending any jazz concert offered in your neighborhood, or by organizing an event, be it through a school, a church, or a city, if you are in the position to do it.
But really anyone can do a little something to celebrate the month just by paying extra attention to this fabulous music genre. Consider, for example:
- Listening to a new jazz release.
- Reading a book about jazz.
- Searching for a jazz website.
- Researching the difference between jazz and Latin jazz.
- Listening to a jazz radio station.
- Visiting a location important to jazz history.
- Organizing a jazz listening party at your home.
- Appreciating jazz related paintings/art.
- Looking (or writing) a jazz inspired poem.
Herbie Hancock said: “It’s not exclusive, but inclusive, which is the whole spirit of jazz.” So join in this month in celebrating the smorgasbord of sweet sounds that jazz is! In due spirit!