Smithsonian Kicks Off Jazz Appreciation Month with Tap Tribute

March 30, 2012

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will mark the 11th annual Jazz Appreciation Month in April with a monthlong celebration of jazz featuring performances, talks, tours and family-oriented events in venues around Washington, D.C. JAM 2012 programs will show how jazz crosses borders of culture, musical genre, technology, gender and race.

JAM kicks off March 30 with a tribute to tap, including an open house in the museum’s Archives Center where visitors can view jazz, tap and dance collections and hear stories from living dance treasure Harold Cromer of the legendary Vaudeville duo “Stump and Stumpy,” from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. In the evening, dancers from the DC Tap Festival improvise to a jam session with bassist Ben Williams. Participants include tappers of all ages, including Emmy Award-winner Ted Levy, Chloe and Maud Arnold (founders of DC Tap) and Cromer.

JAM highlights at the museum this year include a Latin jazz master class with Chilean singer/songwriter Claudia Acuña, a showcase of talent from the DC Tap Festival, public programs in which visitors are invited to make their own music in Flag Hall and a hands-on kite-making workshop followed by a kite ballet to the music of Frank Sinatra, the featured artist on this year’s JAM poster.

The museum’s Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will present a number of small group performances and the month will culminate with three family-oriented programs at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Fort Dupont and Anacostia Park. A full schedule of events is available online.

The lead sponsor for JAM 2012 is the Argus Fund. Additional funding is provided by BMI, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation and the National Park Service.

The museum launched JAM in 2001 as an annual event that pays tribute to jazz both as a historic and living American art form. It has since grown to include celebrations in all 50 states and 40 other countries. In celebrating JAM, the museum joins with a diverse group of organizations, institutions, corporations, associations and federal agencies that have provided financial and in-kind support, as well as organizing programs and outreach of their own.

The Smithsonian operates the world’s most comprehensive set of jazz programs and the National Museum of American History is home to jazz collections that include 100,000 pages of Duke Ellington’s unpublished music and such objects as Ella Fitzgerald’s famous red dress, Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet, John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” manuscript and Benny Goodman’s clarinet. A small number of jazz treasures, including Gillespie’s trumpet, Tony Bennett’s oil painting of Fitzgerald and Herbie Hancock’s cordless keyboard are on display in the second floor Artifact Walls.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. After a two-year renovation and a dramatic transformation, the museum will shed new light on American history. A grand reopening festival is scheduled for Nov. 21, 2008. To learn more about the museum and its renovation, check For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).