America Savors Its Music During Jazz Appreciation Month

Jazz musician Duke Ellington prepares to strike up a tune for Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong at the Rainbow Grill in New York.
Jazz musician Duke Ellington prepares to strike up a tune for Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong at the Rainbow Grill in New York.

Each April, the United States celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), an opportunity to savor a major American contribution to world culture. Initiated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, JAM aims to focus public attention on the music and the many talented composers, musicians and other contributors to the sound.

For the enthusiast who wishes to learn more about jazz, the following brief summary prepared by John Edward Hasse, the Smithsonian’s curator of American music, offers a useful starting point. For more information about Jazz Appreciation Month, see the Smithsonian Jazz web site.

Jazz. Jazz is the most consequential, influential and innovative music to emerge from the United States, and New Orleans, Louisiana, is widely known as the birthplace of jazz. No city, except perhaps for New York, has received more visiting jazz aficionados than New Orleans.

New Orleans residents and jazz devotees worldwide flock to the French Quarter and Preservation Hall, a bare-bones pair of wooden rooms that have served since 1961 as a shrine of sorts to the traditional New Orleans sound. Other New Orleans treasures include the Louisiana State Museum Jazz Collection, complete with the musical instruments of Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke and other early jazz masters, and the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park Visitor Center, which offers self-guided walking tours and other information from its North Peters Street location.