Jazz Appreciation Month
Celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month
April is also officially known as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), which is all about the celebration and participation in jazz for everyone. This was created by the National Museum of American History, and has been celebrated since 2001 to acknowledge the unique legacy and history of jazz and promote jazz as an ancient and modern art form.
Jazz, as a genre, is not simple to define because it covers a wide range of music, over 100 years, from ragtime to the rock-infused fusion.
….Is often rhythmic
…..It can include swing and group and individual voices
…..It is all about freedom, creativity and improvisation; jazz musicians often play solos, which they make up, there and then
….Is full of diversity
…..Musicians place high value on establishing their own unique sound and style, which is why each version of the same song won’t sound the same when it is played by a different jazz musician
….Can turn a familiar song into something ‘individual’
Jazz developed in the United States very early on in the 20th century, in New Orleans. The diverse population of the city resulted in a fusion of ethnicities and backgrounds, which blended musical traditions. Gradually jazz developed from a mixture of ragtime, blues, and other kinds of music. The development of jazz was steered by some superb musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davies. Jazz spread from the United States to all over the world, and today it can be found in a multitude of countries.
JAM in 2018
JAM is celebrated in every state of the US, and Washington D.C has a huge programme of events, as well as being celebrated in over 40 other nations. During JAM, schools and music venues all over the world are encouraged to hold events to inspire and engage people. This year JAM rejoices the connection between jazz and justice, seeing how jazz has played a revolutionary role in social justice, musician’s rights, and equality since its origin in the US. JAM in 2018, looks beyond the music to the dynamic ways jazz played a transformative role in social justice, musicians’ rights, and equality.
Norman Granz (1918-2001) was one of the most influential promoters in the 20th century jazz scene. He helped many jazz musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, to achieve their musical potential, dedicating his life to civil rights and equality, and trying to dispel racial tension. He was in favour of desegregated concerts, often threatening to refuse venues who wanted the segregate audiences. . This year, JAM remembers and appreciates the influence Granz left on the jazz scene.
The 2016 hit film ‘La La Land’ brought Jazz into the fore of audiences’ attention, playing homage to both jazz and musical theatre. An imaginative and quirky, old-fashioned musical telling the love story of Mia, a struggling actress and Sebastien, a jazz musician. Sebastien dreams of opening his own jazz club, that plays ‘pure jazz’, because he is desperate to ‘save’ and revive the genre. He is clearly passionate about jazz, telling Mia that jazz is “new and it’s dying”. One of the key jazz songs of the film, ‘Mia & Sebastien’s theme’ by Justin Hurwitz, is full of energy and intensity alongside the improvisation that is key to jazz, requiring expert musicianship to express multiple emotions with only a few notes. The film touches on many themes, but one thing is made clear; nothing can get in the way of the love between a man and jazz.
Whether you have a favourite jazz musician, recording or venue, how will you celebrate all things jazz this April?
If you want to experience some live jazz here in London some ‘must visits’ to celebrate jazz in April and all year round:
If you’re not in London there’s still bound to be a local jazz night or club you can go and experience some jazz for yourself!
Create lessons and activities on some of the great jazz legends and teach your students how to play some of the great jazz songs. Watch some videos online, to understand more about the cultural history of jazz and listen to a jazz radio station or buy some new CDs or books about great jazz musicians. For younger children introduce them to Disney’s The Princess and the Frog set in New Orleans in the roaring twenties.
Learn a new piece by one of your favourite jazz musicians and attend a jazz concert.
Watch some videos online, to understand more about the cultural history of jazz. Why not check out Ken Burns’ documentary series?
Play jazz at home, take your children to a jazz concert and inspire your children so they want to learn one day.
To find out more about JAM click here.
Below we’ve listed our most popular jazz titles in case you feel inspired! There are lots more to be found online here, or in any of our shops!