Hashtag jazz: Tweeting jazz history day-by-day

You can learn a note or two of jazz history every day, just by reading @CelebrateJAM's tweets. Adam Whitehurst, the intern behind the tweets, explains what it's like to write a year of daily jazz history with a tight character limit.

Those of us who use Twitter know that tweeting usually happens in the moment. But what if you could write a whole year's worth of tweets... today?

Welcome to my summer project. And no, I can't tell the future! Rather, jazz intern Taylor Aldridge and I have been recounting the history of jazz music, 115 characters at a time, and scheduling them to publish on important jazz anniversaries in the coming year. (Why not 140 characters? My tweets save space for a shortened link to a jazz-related online resource.) 

Here are a couple of my favorite tweets, which you'll see in 2014 if you follow @CelebrateJAM:

New Year's Eve, 1912: Young Louis Armstrong was arrested in New Orleans for shooting off his pistol in celebration.

 

Photo: Louis Armstrong, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Elsie M. Warnecke
Photo: Louis Armstrong, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Elsie M. Warnecke

Had that not happened, he might never have become interested in music. As punishment, Armstrong was sentenced to the New Orleans Colored Waif's Home for Boys, where he joined a band and learned to play the cornet. Click here to learn more about Louis Armstrong from Smithsonian Magazine.

 

Photo: Duke Ellington, undated, Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Photo: Duke Ellington, undated, Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

February 15, 1941: Duke Ellington Records "Take the 'A' Train" in Hollywood – Listen

"Take the 'A' Train" is not only the signature tune or theme song of the Duke Ellington Orchestra—it is also one of the most famous jazz standards ever composed. In 1939 Ellington hired Billy Strayhorn to write and arrange for the Ellington Orchestra. He gave Strayhorn directions by subway to find his house in New York City, directions which began with "Take The A Train." Be sure to visit our online documents gallery on Ellington and Strayhorn for more audio and video recordings.

As an intern at the museum this past year, this is just one of the exciting projects that has fed my passion for jazz music and history. I was fortunate to work for Joann Stevens, Program Manager of Jazz Appreciation Month, to help organize JAM events at the Smithsonian (and around the world) to spread appreciation for jazz music. This summer, I have been working under the supervision of Dr. John Edward Hasse, Curator of American Music, who has given me the opportunity to delve into this museum's extraordinary collection of jazz artifacts. This internship has truly been a one-of-a-kind experience for a jazz aficionado like me, one that I will never forget.

Wondering what jazz anniversary to celebrate today? Be sure to follow @CelebrateJAM on Twitter to receive Today in Jazz History on a daily basis. You can also click here to see a list of all our jazz history anniversaries.

Adam Whitehurst is a museum intern. Follow in his footsteps and learn about internship and fellowship opportunities

Posted at 6:00 am EDT in Jazz Appreciation,Music