April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) Let’s Celebrate!

April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM)
Let’s Celebrate!


The Spirit and Rhythms of Jazz is the 2013 Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) theme highlighting jazz cultural history, musical performance and stories, programs and productions this April. JAM and UNESCO’s International Jazz Day April 30 provide rich platforms for individuals and communities to explore jazz principles of freedom, inclusion and creativity to learn how jazz has transformed America and inspired the world.The Smithsonian will present stories, images, and music highlighting various jazz artists and people who helped shape America’s original art form – jazz – over several decades; three jazz legends to be featured are: Lionel Hampton, Randy Weston and John Levy.


Lionel Hampton’s Smithsonian story has an unmistakable vibe. His image on the 2013 JAM poster is created from artwork by Frederick J. Brown on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. A set of vibes Hampton donated to the Smithsonian jazz collection in 2001 will be played at special jazz events.

Featuring outstanding sidemen and soloists, as well as his own swinging vibe playing, Lionel Hampton’s bands during the 1940s and 1950s were among the most popular and most exciting in jazz. Hampton was raised in the Midwest, primarily in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he received his first musical training. His career began behind the drums; his first music job was in a newsboys’ band sponsored by the Chicago Defender.

This portrait of Lionel Hampton was created in 1997 by the late Frederick J. Brown, an African American artist whose passion for jazz, blues and American culture provided the artistic inspiration for his work. Brown presented this portrait to Hampton at an 89th birthday party held at Brown’s loft in New York City.

Born February 6, 1945 in Greensboro, GA., Brown grew up on the south side of Chicago. He was a largely self-taught artist, who earned a degree in art and psychology from Southern Illinois University. Brown was influenced by the German Expressionists and Abstract Expressionists like Willem de Kooning, who was a mentor.

Lionel Hampton Bio:http://www.nea.gov/honors/jazz/jmCMS/master.php?id=1988_02&type=bio

Randy Weston is renowned for illuminating linkages between African rhythms and jazz. His perspective is embodied in works like his Uhuru Afrika, collaborations with Gnaoua musicians of Morocco, and his promotion of the legacy of James Reese Europe. Weston will join the Smithsonian in presenting a concert and onstage discussion to showcase this history.

 John Levy was a successful African American jazz business manager during a period of American history when few black men commanded respect and fair business dealings for themselves, much less others. Levy delivered both, managing artists from jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson (who remained a client until Levy’s death)to British pianist George Shearing, among others, with integrity and keen business acumen on the strength of his handshake and courage.

John Clayton teams up with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra to deliver a webcast performance of original music in tribute to John Levy, the jazz bassist turned business manager, to highlight the Smithsonian’s celebration of International Jazz Day.

To learn more: http://www.smithsonianjazz.org

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