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Many people don’t realize that jazz music is considered to be a cultural icon in American history. People all over the world listen to the bebop and play on notes as they dance throughout the night.

That’s why this particular time has been dedicated to the celebration of everything related to Jazz. National Jazz Appreciation Month aims to encourage people to learn about the unique and interesting history of this fairly recent music genre.

Celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month by exploring the jazz musicians of the past, and appreciate the cultural influence that jazz music now has in today’s world.

History of National Jazz Appreciation Month

The history of National Jazz Appreciation Month must first begin with the history of jazz music! Originating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, jazz music began as a interpretation and interweaving of classical music with folk songs from African and slave culture.Developed from the sounds of blues and ragtime, it gave rise to different styles drawing from national, regional, and local musical cultures.

New Orleans is considered to be the home of jazz, where this mix of ragtime, blues, march and other types of music was created. The popularity of jazz music grew from there and has been known for its syncopated rhythms, improvisational sounds and complex harmonies.

Some of the big names in the founding of jazz include Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong. Many would say that Louis Armstrong, also called “Pops” or “Satchmo”, is one of the most important musicians in the development of jazz music. With his gravelly voice and infectious charm, Armstrong made scat popular and paved the way for future musicians like Ella Fitzgerald.

The year 1980 brought about Jazz Awareness Month created by the Louisiana Jazz Federation. The observance aims to recognize the heritage and history of jazz. Later, National Jazz Appreciation Month was founded by John Edward Hasse, a curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2001.

Initially funded by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, JAM supports the jazz scene, encourages the appreciation of jazz music for all ages. This month was selected because so many famous jazz performers were born during this month.

Many jazz musicians celebrate their birthdays during the month of April, including beloved people such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Herbie Hancock.

The different styles of music produced within the genre, and help shine a spotlight on the historical figures of jazz music. It can also inspire younger generations to dive into the world of music and aim at making a career in the jazz music industry.

So get ready to celebrate everything related to jazz music and jazz musicians during National Jazz Appreciation Month!

National Jazz Appreciation Month Timeline

Late 1800s

Jazz music gets its start 

As American and European music is intertwined with African folk and slave influences, jazz music is born with one of its features be improvisation.[1]


Pianist Scott Joplin publishes music 

African-American composer, Scott Joplin, publishes his first two ragtime songs, which are part of the early expressions of jazz.[2]


Duke Ellington becomes popular 

One of the most famous jazz orchestra leaders in America, Duke Ellington writes or composes more than 1000 musical pieces in his lifetime.[3]


Jazz Awareness Month begins 

This observance is created by the Louisiana Jazz Federation and is particularly celebrated in the city of New Orleans, the heart of the jazz movement.[4]


National Jazz Appreciation Month is created

First celebrated early in the new millennium, National Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) is a nation-wide extension of Louisiana’s Jazz Awareness Month created in 1980.[5]

How to Celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month

Get on board with National Jazz Appreciation Month in a variety of fun and educational ways, including these ideas:

Learn More About Jazz Music

Throughout National Jazz Appreciation month, people will be encouraged to participate and observe by studying jazz music. This can be done by attending jazz concerts, reading books on the history of jazz, and listening to jazz music.

As a great learning opportunity, National Jazz Appreciation Month can offer a significant amount of insight into the cultural history surrounding the music. Read up on famous jazz musicians and learn about their history and how they influenced the sound of jazz.

Listen to Jazz Music

Take the time to listen to some jazz on the radio while doing those daily activities. Head on over to a local jazz club and listen to some more contemporary music artists while having a drink with old friends–or making new friends.

Not sure what to listen to first? Try making a playlist that includes some of these classic jazz pieces:

  • Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra. Though it was already 10 years old at the time, Sinatra’s version of this in 1964 coincided closely with the Apollo missions to the moon.
  • Mack the Knife by Ella Fitzgerald. Written in 1928, one of the most popular versions of this song was recorded by Ella live in Berlin in 1960.
  • It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) by Duke Ellington. A favorite, especially in the world of swing dancers, this song has been recorded by a number of famous jazz musicians.
  • Georgia on My Mind by Billie Holiday. Written in 1930, this song was a favorite of Billie Holiday and she can be heard singing it on several recordings throughout her career.

Visit New Orleans

For those who want to immerse themselves in the world of jazz, it would be great to take a visit to New Orleans. This is one of the most famous cities in the United States and is known as the birthplace of jazz music. New Orleans is located in the state of Louisiana, which is in the south central region of the US, next to Texas and Mississippi.

While there, take part in some local delights such as boiled crawfish, 17th century architecture, swamp adventures in the bayou, and world class foods such as jambalaya, gumbo, beignets, and po’boys. Of course, all of these can happen with jazz music playing in the background.

Learn to Play Jazz Music

Try your hand at the saxophone, trumpet or clarinet and see what kind of music can be created throughout the month. Sign up for some music lessons or join a jazz band just for fun!

National Jazz Appreciation Month FAQs

When is National Jazz Appreciation Month?

National Jazz Appreciation Month is celebrated as a musical tribute throughout the month of April each year.[1]

How to celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month?

Celebrating this month is simple–listen to jazz music online, attend a jazz music festival, hop over to a jazz bar, or learn to play jazz music on an instrument.[2]

Why is Jazz Appreciation Month celebrated?

Held in honor of the early American art form of Jazz music, Jazz Appreciation Month pays tribute to jazz as both a historic and living form of art.[3]

Who started National Jazz Appreciation Month?

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History began this observance, funded by Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.[4]

What are some Jazz Appreciation Month activities?

Head to New Orleans for a Jazz festival or find one locally. Other activities might include concerts by music schools, jazz band competitions or even jazz dances.[5]

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