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

The Bernstein Reimagined recording was made possible by David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn.

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

Concerts and Events

The Soulful Shirley Horne

Thursday, April 29, 2021
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.


Keeping the Rhythm: An Exploration of Women Drummers

Friday, April 23, 2021
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.


Charlie Parker: A Centennial Spotlight

Friday, February 26, 2021
7  p.m. EDT   

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.