Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) around the world. Here in Washington D.C., during the month-long festivities, just a few blocks from VOA headquarters, jazz music will fill the air, mixing with fragrance of roses, tulips and pink cherry blossoms that adorn the capital city.
The annual JAM celebration is intended to draw greater local and international attention to jazz music, considered a living American art and part of a history rich with iconic artists. Many jazz artists can trace their roots back to Africa or Europe, where this style of music originated.
John Edward Hasse, Curator of the Smithsonian’s American Music at the National Museum of American History (NMAH) came up with the idea for an annual jazz festival in 2001. He spoke with VOA’s Russ Davis:
This year, throughout the month of April, the Smithsonian will show movies and hold jazz concerts. There will also be exhibits highlighting the significance of jazz music in the framework of the U.S. cultural heritage. In addition visitors can check out the numerous collections on display, showcasing artifacts used by jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Mary Lou Williams and Ella Fitzgerald.
To mark both occasions, Latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill will perform an evening concert.
The 10th Anniversary celebration also focuses on the legacies of jazz women, and their advocates, who helped transcend race, gender and social barriers in the quest to build a more just and equitable America.
Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex. It consists of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities in Washington, D.C.
For more on jazz music, listen to VOA’s Jazz America