Jazz Appreciation Month

Jazz is a uniquely American phenomenon; an art form cultivated around the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities across the southeastern United States out of a confluence of African and European music traditions. Jazz, from its inception, has spawned a plethora of wonderful sub-genres grouped together under its umbrella of inspired blues notes, syncopations, polyrhtyhms, improvisational cues, call-and-response and ragtime overtones. From big band to swing in the 1930's and 40's to mid-1940's bebop all the way back to early 20th century New Orleans Dixieland, jazz helped to put America and African American musical inspiration and genius on the world map.

April is in fact Jazz Appreciation Month as part of a nationwide celebration of this one of a kind American music genre. The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in collaboration with several education, music, arts and humanities organizations, have joined to raise public awareness of jazz and its history by launching this month long tribute. Jazz Appreciation Month encourages people of all ages to attend jazz concerts, listen to jazz recordings, support jazz music programs and simply incorporate the enjoyment of great jazz into their everyday lives.

African American jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, County Basie, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington are all now household names and legends in their own rights yet what do most people really know of their individual lives and lifelong struggles? Jazz Appreciation Month should seek to remember these fine musicians and their lives lived in a very different era in history.

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