Jazz Appreciation Month

Jazz appreciation month logo

Jazz Appreciation Month (fondly known as "JAM") was created right here at the museum in 2001 to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz for the entire month of April.

JAM is intended to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz - to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and more.

Jazz Appreciation Month 2021: Women’s Impact and Contributions in Jazz

This past year the museum’s jazz program stepped up its efforts in recognizing contributions of women in jazz, from the genre’s earliest development to present successes and challenges. Our work is far from being done and will continue to be an integral part of our ongoing effort as we delve into the rich historical legacy of America’s indigenous art form.

This year, Jazz Appreciation Month will both recognize and explore the historical legacy of pianist, singer, songwriter, storyteller, and civil rights activist Nina Simone. We’ll add historic content to our website and online programming, marked visually by an illustration of Nina Simone on this year’s poster by Duke Ellington School of the Arts sophomore visual arts student Naa Anyele Sowah-de Jesus.

 Nina Simone - Symphony Hall, Boston, Mass. - 1969
Nina Simone - Symphony Hall, Boston, Mass. - 1969
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Robert and Greta Houston

2021 Programs

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Sextet
“Tribute to the Poll Winners”

March 26 through April 8

The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Sextet performed “Tribute to the Poll Winners” live at MCG Jazz in June 2018. The tribute featured the music of Max Roach, Barney Kessel, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Johnny Hodges, and others, all of whom were annual DownBeat magazine “Poll Winners” in the 1950s and 1960s. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Sextet was joined by special guest Chuck Redd on vibes and Paul Thompson on bass.

Universally recognized as the “crème de la crème” by critics and the educated jazz connoisseur, Jazz Poll Winners have created an artistic standard that serves as the definitive blueprint for modern-day jazz musicians. Past poll winners include Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Ray Brown, Marian McPartland, Carmen McRae, Anat Cohen, and Regina Carter.

This concert is available for a limited time. To watch, go to: MCG Jazz - Smithsonian Jazz Sextet: Tribute to the Poll Winners.


NEA Jazz Masters

Thursday, April 22, 8 p.m. EDT

The National Endowment for the Arts, in collaboration with SFJAZZ, will host a special online-only concert in honor of the 2021 NEA Jazz Masters—Terri Lyne Carrington, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Henry Threadgill, and Phil Schaap. 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater and actor Delroy Lindo will co-host this premier event coordinated by music director, composer, and saxophonist Miguel Zenón. The program will include performances by NEA Jazz Masters Wynton and Jason Marsalis (2011) and Dianne Reeves (2018), as well as Obed Calvaire, Avishai Cohen, Roman Filiu, Vince Giordano, Christopher Hoffman, Joe Lovano, Pedrito Martinez, Linda May Han Oh, Dan Nimmer, Danilo Pérez, David Virelles, Lizz Wright, and the SFJAZZ High School All Stars. The event will also include video testimonials from NEA Jazz Masters Herbie Hancock (2004), Charles Lloyd (2015), and Wayne Shorter (1998), as well as Jon Faddis, Michelle Kinney, Jason Moran, James Mtume, and Joe Lovano.

Tune in and watch this free broadcast at https://sfjazz.org or https://www.arts.gov/honors/jazz.


Keeping the Rhythm: An Exploration of Women Drummers

Friday, April 23, 7 p.m. EDT

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.

Register here.


The Soulful Shirley Horne

Thursday, April 29, 7 p.m. EDT

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.

This event is produced in partnership with the Smithsonian Associates. Click here to purchase tickets.


Woman playing saxophoneWays to Celebrate JAM

Hold your own JAM event with this handy list of ways to celebrate jazz.



White background with black text that says "JAM"Resources

Everything else you might need for your own JAM events – including the JAM logo, and radio announcements.



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