All That Jazz
Celebrating America’s gift to the world
From West africa through the caribbean to the cot- ton fields of the south and on to the nightclubs of new Orleans and stages of the world. jazz. it’s a uniquely american art form enjoyed
everywhere and now celebrated in april during jazz appre-
ciation Month (jaM), a smithsonian institution invention
now in its 11th year.
brent Glass, recently retired director of the smithson-
ian’s national Museum of american history, goes so far as
to say the history of america cannot be told without music.
“jazz is made in america and is especially interwoven with
our country’s history and has become our musical gift to the
world,” Glass said at the jaM launch ceremony last year.
jaM has its own website ( smithsonianjazz.org) and runs
special events during april and even offers a list of 112 ways
to celebrate jazz. but the best way is just simply to listen.
a place to start is the top 25 jazz albums of all time from
thejazzresource.com. (see sidebar)
for anybody wanting to go deeper with jazz apprecia-
tion, lincoln center in new york offers swing university,
a lecture series often taught by jazz musicians who demon-
strate their points and in one case by Mercedes ellington,
granddaughter of the great man. titles include “jazz 101,”
“jazz 201” and “jelly roll Morton.” classes recur on multiple
nights and can span 20 hours or more.
jazz comes in many flavors, as bendable as the blue
notes themselves. for that reason it can be as intimidating
as french wine. but it shouldn’t be. as with wine, you don’t
need a degree or a goatee to start enjoying it. just try it. but
remember this from the great duke ellington: it don’t mean
a thing if it ain’t got that swing.
so here’s to jazz and here’s to america! crack a bottle
and celebrate. —Greg G. Weber
Michael Ochs archive/Getty iMaGes
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
Ellington at Newport by Duke Ellington
Jazz at Massey Hall by The Quintet
Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock
Blue Train by John Coltrane
Getz/Gilberto by Stan Getz and
Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus
Concert by the Sea by Erroll Garner
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