Concerts and Recordings

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    Concerts and Events

    Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
    2022–2023 Concert Series  

    Under the artistic direction of maestro Charlie Young, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra has celebrated some of the greatest jazz music throughout its 32-year history as one of the crown jewels of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The new SJMO season promises to continue that tradition in a series of standout concerts, all of which are held in person. Additional concerts will be announced throughout the season. Please check back here often for more information! 


    Themes from Stage, Radio, TV, and Film
    Saturday, October 22, 2022, 7:00 p.m. 
    Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History 

    In anticipation of the opening of the National Museum of American History’s newest exhibition, Entertainment Nation, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra kicks off its 2022–2023 season with a salute to the museum’s collections and the diverse forms of entertainment in the United States over the last 100 years. Musical selections include themes from “M*A*S*H,” “I Love Lucy,” The Wizard of Oz, the musical Chicago, and many more.  

    Tickets on sale through the Smithsonian Associates  
    Members $20; Nonmembers $25 


    Sunday, December 11, 2022, 7:00 p.m.  
    Warner Bros. Theater, National Museum of American History 

    Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s meteoric rise to stardom was the buzz of the New York jazz scene in 1955, a testament to the unusual abilities of this gifted alto saxophonist. Securing a recording contract only weeks after his arrival, Cannonball paved a career path cemented with a multitude of recordings produced for the Savoy, EmArcy, and Mercury labels. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble performs selections including "A Little Taste," "I've Never Been in Love Before," and "Spectacular" from Cannonball Adderley’s 1955–1958 recordings.  

    Tickets on sale through the Smithsonian Associates  
    Members $20; Nonmembers $25 


    Previous Concerts

    Women in Jazz: On and Off the Concert Stage
    June 16, 2022

    The multifaceted field of jazz provides a wide range of opportunities for creative expression. Often overlooked, the contributions of women have and continue to have a dynamic impact on jazz. As jazz performers, educators, artists, producers, and directors, women have struggled for equal recognition. The SJMO will highlight contributions to the field of jazz by women on and off the concert stage


    Duke and the Count
    April 1, 2022

    Duke Ellington and Count Basie created two of the oldest and most influential jazz orchestras in history. For nearly 90 years historians, audiences, and musicians have attempted to compare the attributes of these two distinctively different orchestras: Ellington’s orchestrations versus Basie’s swing.

    The Smithsonian Jazz Masterwork Orchestra will juxtapose the music of The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra and The World-Famous Duke Ellington Orchestra.


    Joe Wilder: The Pretty Sound
    February 24, 2022

    Trumpeter and NEA Jazz Master Joseph Benjamin Wilder left a broad impact that still resonates in the world of music today. Wilder’s accolades include performances with Jimmie Lunceford, Noble Sissle, Count Basie, and many other jazz greats. He recorded numerous solo and feature recordings. Join the SJMO as we celebrate the unique talents of Joe Wilder during what would be his 100th year.


    The Jazz Age, and the Black and Tans
    December 14, 2021

    From 1896 to 1954, segregation was enforced by social practice and by laws in the United States that created, supposedly, “separate but equal” spaces. In addition to the many invisible walls segregation created, many concrete walls were constructed nationwide, barring people of color from certain places. Black and Tan clubs opened their doors to all—Black people and other people of color, as well as white people—during the 1920s Jazz Age. Smithsonian Jazz will present the music and the story behind the Black and Tans.


    The Soulful Shirley Horne
    April 29, 2021

    It is undeniable that Washington, D.C.’s own Shirley Horn was a world-class jazz artist with a reputation as an exceptional and sensitive jazz vocalist. But did you know she started out as a pianist and might never have become the Grammy-award winning jazz diva that she is known as today?

    Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month’s Year of the Woman with a look into the life of one of jazz’s greatest vocalists, Shirley Horn. Join Howard University Assistant Professor Jessica Boykin-Settles as she elaborates on Horn’s unique, almost serendipitous, route to fame. Discover Horn’s influences, like Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner, and learn about her collaborations with artists Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Carmen McRae, and many others. Hear Horn sing renditions of songs from the Great American Songbook and beyond and understand what a unique gift she left for us all.


    Keeping the Rhythm: An Exploration of Women Drummers
    April 23, 2021

    As part of Smithsonian Jazz’s celebration of Women in Jazz during this year’s Jazz Appreciation Month, the museum is thrilled to present Keeping the Rhythm: An Exploration of Women Drummers. This livestreamed program will be hosted by Dr. Sherrie Maricle, drummer, educator and music director of The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, FIVE PLAY and co-leader the 3D Jazz Trio. Maricle will share the important and often overlooked contributions of American women drummers throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. She will also be joined by award-winning writer, producer, and director Judy Chaikin, whose groundbreaking documentary The Girls in the Band featured stories of women jazz musicians. This program will be live streamed on the museum’s YouTube page.


    Charlie Parker: A Centennial Spotlight
    Friday, February 26

    Charlie Parker at Birdland, New York CityIn 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 was produced in partnership with the Smithsonian Associates.  


    Jazz and Spirituality

    December 21, 2020 – January 4, 2021

    Jazz performers on a stage

    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. In 2016 the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, through a partnership with the National Museum of American History’s Religion in America Initiative, delved into the intersection between jazz and spirituality. This concert features music from Duke Ellington's Third Sacred Concert, Mary Lou Williams's "Black Christ of Andes," John Coltrane's "Resolution," and many more.

    This Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra concert was performed and recorded at the National Museum of American History on December 9, 2016. This digital program was produced in partnership with Smithsonian Associates.

    This concert was available for a limited time. Follow this link to watch.


    Tribute to the Poll Winners

    November 23 – December 7, 2020

    Jazz combo on stageIn the 1950s and 1960s, critics’ and readers’ polls from DownBeat magazine recognized the contributions of many iconic musicians. Jazz Poll Winners highlights the works of bassist Ray Brown, pianist Oscar Peterson, bandleader Duke Ellington, and drummer Shelly Manne.

    This Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra concert was originally performed and recorded at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in Pittsburgh, PA, on June 2, 2018. This program featured new commentary by Kennith Kimery, program director of Smithsonian Jazz, and was presented in partnership with The Smithsonian Associates.

    This concert was available for a limited time. Follow this link to watch.




    Support for jazz programming is made possible by

    LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation

    The Argus Fund

    Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation
    founding donor of the Smithsonian Jazz Endowment

    David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn

    Goldman Sachs

    John Hammond Performance Series Endowment Fund