Let's Appreciate Some Jazz

Submitted by cinnaminson on

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History created Jazz Appreciation Month in 2001 to celebrate the extraordinary history and heritage of jazz. You can experience the wide spectrum of this uniquely American art form on Kanopy, our streaming video service.

A great place to start is Ken Burns' Jazz, a ten-part series made for PBS that presents the evolution of the music from its origins in the turn of the century melting pot of New Orleans to the present day. One of the most original voices in modern jazz belongs to Thelonius Monk. Monk and Monk in Europe present the pioneering bebop pianist on stage and in the studio in 1968 with a top-notch band featuring saxophonist Charlie Rouse. Perhaps best known for his immortal composition "Misty," Erroll Garner also recorded the million selling album Concert by the SeaErroll Garner: No One Can Hear You Read provides an overview of the life and career of the virtuoso pianist. Jam band groove masters Medeski, Martin and Wood bring jazz into the 21st century and beyond in Fly in a Bottle.

In 2020, Jazz Appreciation Month is recognizing the critically overlooked contributions of women to the music. The Girls in the Band provides a joyous corrective to this neglect featuring many stellar musical performances and interviews from performers throughout the course of jazz history. Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band focuses on the innovative composer, band leader and improviser while Strange Fruit tells the story of Billie Holiday's haunting anti-racist protest song. International Sweethearts of Rhythm tells the toe-tapping story of the first racially integrated all-women jazz band in the United States.

Find these and many more fantastic jazz documentaries and concert films on Kanopy. The Smithsonian also provides a handy list of other ways to celebrate jazz this month and throughout the year!

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