Concerts and Recordings

New Recording: Bernstein Reimagined

Bernstein Reimagined coverThe Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra explores the vast, diverse repertoire of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein on the stunning, revelatory new album, Bernstein Reimagined, due out January 29, 2021, via MCG Jazz. Bernstein once called jazz “the ultimate common denominator of the American musical style.” This album explores lesser-known Bernstein pieces through the transformative lens of innovative new arrangements.

The album features none of the usual suspects, the oft-explored West Side Story songs (“Maria,” “Somewhere”) or those that have become jazz standards (“Some Other Time,” “Big Stuff”). Instead, the project’s five gifted and inventive arrangers—Jay Ashby, Darryl Brenzel, Scott Silbert, Mike Tomaro, and Steve Williams—find inspiration in the lesser known corners of Bernstein’s output: the symphonic works, spiritual music, operas, lesser-known musical theater pieces, and even his sole film score, for the classic On the Waterfront. The results are, as the title promises, surprising acts of re-imagination as revelatory to Bernstein aficionados as they will be to newcomers unfamiliar with the original compositions.

Bernstein Reimagined is available at

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in concert at the National Museum of American History. Photo by Jacyln Nash
Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in concert at the National Museum of American History. Photo by Jaclyn Nash


Charlie Parker: A Centennial Spotlight
Friday, February 26, 2021
7 - 8:30 p.m. EDT   

In his short life, legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker changed the world of music, creating with a small group of innovators the musical style called bop or bebop. Like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, he was a pioneering composer and improviser who ushered in a new era of jazz and influenced later generations of musicians and artists.  

2020 marked the centennial of the man who created and performed such greats as “Conformation,” “My Little Suede Shoes,” “Cool Blues,” “Scrapple From the Apple,” “Blues for Alice,” and "Yardbird Suite," to name a few.  

Join the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra’s artistic director and conductor Charlie Young; Dwandalyn R. Reece, curator of music and performing arts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and Bobby Watson from the American Jazz Museum as they take us back in time to hear the sound of Grammy Award-winning Parker to understand how his brilliance and charisma had an impact on the course of music like no other.  

This live digital program is produced in partnership with the Smithsonian Associates.  For more information, go to: 


Charlie Parker at Birdland, New York City


Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Concert Season in Washington, DC


NEA Jazz Masters Concert 

August 20, 2020, 8 p.m. EDT

Watch the concert video via this page or on YouTube.

On August 20 we celebrated the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters Class in a tribute concert broadcast from San Francisco at SFJazz. This concert honored Dorthaan Kirk (A.B. Spellman Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy), vocalist Bobby McFerrin, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and bassist Reggie Workman.

Also please visit our jazz oral history page to learn more about our effort to document the lives and careers of nearly 100 NEA Jazz Masters.


Smithsonian Jazz is made possible through leadership support from:

The LeRoy Neiman Foundation

The Argus Fund

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation
founding donor of the Jazz Appreciation Month endowment

David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn

Goldman Sachs

The John Hammond Performance Series Endowment Fund