Concerts

Concerts this season explore how jazz has influenced American civil rights, identity, and culture.

26th SEASON • JAZZ & DEMOCRACY

OCTOBER 2016 - JUNE 2017

Concert Calendar | Season Pass | Full Details & Tickets


2016-17 Concert Calendar

Album cover art from "Southern Exposure"

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8 7:30 P.M.

Jazz, Blues, and Civil Rights

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Black and white photo of a tenor saxophone player playing and Duke Ellington behind

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9 • 7:30 P.M.

Jazz and Spirituality: From Ellington to Sun Ra and Beyond

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Original Dixieland Jazz Band album cover

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11 • 7:30 P.M.

Democracy in the Jazz Age

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Triple-exposed photograph of Ella Fitzgerald

FRIDAY, MARCH 31 • 7:30 P.M.

Women in Jazz: The Influence of Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, and Lil Hardin Armstrong

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Duke Ellington watched Indian musicians play on traditional instruments

SATURDAY, JUNE 10 • 7:30 P.M.

International Influences in Jazz: Rhythm and Tradition

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2016-17 Season Pass

THE SJMO 2016-17 SEASON PASS

Oct. 2016 - Jun. 2017 at the National Museum of American History

SOLD OUT

Don’t miss a single performance by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra this season! Get the SJMO Season Pass and reserve two seats and for you and a guest at all five of our concerts from October 2016 to June 2017.

Thanks to valuable feedback from our wonderful audiences this past year, we’re happy to offer a great comprehensive season pass package for all our jazz fans: the SJMO Season Pass 2016-17 and a guarantee for two of the best seats in the house wherever the SJMO performs. What does this mean? For all concerts held in the SJMO’s usual cabaret-style space on the first floor, all SJMO Season Pass Holders will receive two table seats. For our special February concert in the museum’s new Hall of Music, an intimate venue on the third floor with views of the Washington Monument, all SJMO Season Pass Holders will receive two seats in the front rows.

The SJMO Season Pass includes two seats and two complimentary drinks at all five concerts, for a discounted total of $320.00. 

UPDATE: The SJMO Season Pass is now sold out. 

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2016-17 Full Concert Details & Tickets

Southern Exposure album cove

JAZZ, BLUES, AND CIVIL RIGHTS

Saturday, October 8 • 7:30 p.m.

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza • First Floor

Standard seat: $25 • Table seat: SOLD OUT 
(table seats include one complimentary drink) 

Jazz and blues emerged out of a climate of struggle and oppression. Parallel in many ways to the modern civil rights movement, many American jazz and blues musicians had to find a safe means of voicing opposition to Jim Crow practices and other restrictive racial prejudices. The answer that many found was in their music. Musicians adopted the common practice of lyrical expression through rhythm, song, and sometimes even through coded language. Their compositions, expressions, and views would go on to provide strong support for the creation and passage of the American Civil Rights Act of 1964. On October 8, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Big Band will present a concert exploring the power of jazz and blues musicians, music, and language from this important era in American history.

The museum’s Constitution Ave doors will open at 6:45 p.m. and the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Café Stand will be open and serving light fare and drink options for purchase from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food and drink are welcome at seats in the Performance Plaza. More details on the evening will be available soon.

 

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Black and white photo of tenor saxophone player and Duke Ellington

JAZZ AND SPIRITUALITY: FROM ELLINGTON TO SUN RA AND BEYOND

Friday, December 9 • 7:30 p.m.

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza • First Floor

Standard seat: $25 • Table seat: $40 
(table seats include one complimentary drink) 

Throughout its existence, jazz has been closely entwined with spirituality, divinity, and religion. The roots of the music itself are planted firmly in the religions of its creators. Join the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and a special guest choir on December 9th for an evening highlighting compositions by musicians inspired by spirituality, divinity, or religion, all of whom helped shape the broad landscape of modern jazz history.

The museum’s Constitution Ave doors will open at 6:45 p.m. and the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Café Stand will be open and serving light fare and drink options for purchase from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food and drink are welcome at seats in the Performance Plaza. More details on the evening will be available soon.

 

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Original Dixieland Jazz Band album cover

DEMOCRACY IN THE JAZZ AGE

Saturday, February 11 • 7:30 p.m.

Hall of Music • Third Floor

Standard seat: $30

The year 2017 marks the centennial of the first ever jazz recording by the “Original Dixieland Jass Band” in early 1917. It is largely thanks to changing technology and pioneering musicians that jazz music has been documented for the majority of its lifetime, providing evidence of the styles, communication, performances, and nuance of early jazz. Unlike classical music, jazz was unique in those early years as it relied heavily on the creativity and improvisation of all its performers as well as their ability to listen to each other. On February 11 in the museum’s newest concert space, the Hall of Music, the SJMO Ensemble will explore these forms of democratic conversation and freedom of expression in music through the Jazz Age.

The museum’s Constitution Ave doors will open at 6:45 p.m. and the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Café Stand will be open and serving light fare and drink options for purchase from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food and drink must be eaten at the cocktail tables outside the Hall of Music. All seats in the Hall of Music cost $30. More details on the evening will be available soon.

 

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Triple-exposed photograph of Ella Fitzgerald

WOMEN IN JAZZ: THE INFLUENCE OF ELLA FITZGERALD, MARY LOU WILLIAMS, AND LIL HARDIN ARMSTRONG

Friday, March 31 • 7:30 p.m.

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza • First Floor

Standard seat: $25 • Table seat: $40 
(table seats include one complimentary drink) 

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and as the home of JAM, the SJMO will spend the month celebrating the women of jazz just in time for Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial. Oftentimes overlooked, women have been making vital contributions to jazz throughout its history. Beyond the traditional female vocalist, there are also many great composers, arrangers, orchestrators, and instrumentalists covering the full spectrum of jazz. Join the SJMO for an evening showcase of big band compositions by women and featuring women who have and continue to leave an indelible print on the history and future of jazz.

The museum’s Constitution Ave doors will open at 6:45 p.m. and the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Café Stand will be open and serving light fare and drink options for purchase from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food and drink are welcome at seats in the Performance Plaza. More details on the evening will be available soon.

 

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Duke Ellington watches Indian musicians play on traditional instruments

INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCES IN JAZZ: RHYTHM AND TRADITION

Saturday, June 10 • 7:30 p.m.

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza • First Floor

Standard seat: $25 • Table seat: $40 
(table seats include one complimentary drink) 

The quintessential great melting pot, American society has always been greatly impacted and influenced by other cultures from around the world. It’s what makes American culture so unique; the complex quilt of diverse backgrounds, countries, and traditions. A perfect embodiment of this relationship, jazz music has and continues to be influenced by the diversity and traditions of international communities. From the big band fox trot to modern jazz’s complex rhythmic and harmonic structures, the SJMO’s June concert will explore jazz’s compositional forms and stylistic elements and their origins.

The museum’s Constitution Ave doors will open at 6:45 p.m. and the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Café Stand will be open and serving light fare and drink options for purchase from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food and drink are welcome at seats in the Performance Plaza. More details on the evening will be available soon.

 

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Past Concerts

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
Afro-Cuban Jazz: Back In Full Swing
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
National Museum of American History

Friday, October 16, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. feat. special guest Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton

To kick off the new season “in full swing,” the SJMO will spend a special two evenings celebrating the unique sound and development of Afro-Cuban jazz. An innovative sound that shook up jazz 70 years ago, Cuban and jazz music have maintained a healthy marriage through the political challenges of the past 50 years. The concert will feature music of pioneering musicians in Latin jazz, including Chano Pozo (1915-48), Mario Bauza (1911-93), Machito (1908-84) and many other influential composers and performers of this powerful blend of American and Cuban music. For their Saturday performance, the SJMO will be joined onstage by special guest, the Smithsonian's new Secretary, Dr. David Skorton.

 

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
Sinatra: His Way
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
National Museum of American History

Friday, December 4, 2015
Doors, food and drink at 6:45 p.m.
Concert at 7:30 p.m.

Just in time for the holidays, the SJMO will feature the songbook of the legendary icon, Frank Sinatra (1915-98), with “nothing but the best” for his centennial. Often referred to as “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” Sinatra possessed an undeniably rich voice and stylistic approach that easily reached the heart, soul and conscience of the world. Equally at home on the concert stage or in front of a movie camera, Sinatra amassed a wealth of creative works. This concert will coincide with the museum’s holiday festival as well as a companion exhibition on Sinatra. 

 

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
A Big Band Love Affair
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
National Museum of American History

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Doors, food and drink at 6:45 p.m.
Concert at 7:30 p.m.

Grab your sweetheart and swing up your Valentine’s weekend with the SJMO as the big band explores the mysteries of love through song. This evening will feature big band arrangements of great love themes that have and continue to provide the soundtrack for many lovers and expand our ability to communicate through music. 

 

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
Benny Carter: The Groundbreaking King of Jazz
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
National Museum of American History

Saturday, April 2, 2016 
Doors, food and drink at 6:45 p.m.
Concert at 7:30 p.m.

To kick off Jazz Appreciation Month 2016, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra salutes the masterworks of this year's featured poster artist, the innovative saxophonist, trumpeter, composer, and arranger, Benny Carter. Affectionately known as "King," Benny Carter was a major contributor in the development of jazz. As a musician, he helped shape the alto sax as a solo instrument in jazz; as a composer, he helped create the vocabulary of swing; and as a bandleader and arranger he broke down racial boundaries in jazz and spread the music around the world. As Miles Davis once said, "everyone should listen to Benny Carter, he's a whole music education."

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
A New Sound in Jazz: The Incredible Jimmy Smith
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
National Museum of American History

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Doors, food and drink at 6:45 p.m.
Concert at 7:30 p.m.

The history of jazz is made up of innovators who shook up, redefined and explored the limits of jazz. In a nod to one of the great pioneers of jazz, the SJMO, and special guest Charles Covington, will present the music of the great Jimmy Smith (1925-2005). An NEA Jazz Master, Smith’s chosen instrument, a Hammond B3 organ, was rarely if ever used in early jazz, but through his unparalleled work and talent, he single-handedly popularized the instrument and its unique sound.  

 


Smithsonian Jazz programs are made possible through generous support from: 

The Argus Fund

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation

Goldman Sachs

John Hammon Performance Series Endowment Fund

The LeRoy Neiman Foundation