April 2015 is the twelfth observance of National Jazz Appreciation Month. Founded at the Smithsonian Institution in 2002 by the jazz scholar, Duke Ellington biographer and musician John Edward Haase, the celebration is intended, in the words of Quincy Jones, to “…recognize that our indigenous music — jazz — is the heart and soul of all popular music, and that we cannot afford to let its legacy slip into obscurity.”
Jones’s quote is on this page of the National Endowment for the Humanities website, along with information about the history of the observance and links to programs, films and suggestions about how communities and individuals can transmit and proliferate their enthusiasm for jazz.
This year’s poster boy for Jazz Appreciation Month is Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967), whose compositions, arrangements, wisdom and guidance were major contributions to the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Ellington’s legacy. Communities all over the country will hold celebrations observing National Jazz Appreciation Month. One of the first will be tomorrow in Philadelphia, honoring pianist McCoy Tyner, a native son.
Our contribution to the launch of the month-long observance, this video from the 1985 Berlin Jazz Festival has trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Woody Shaw sitting in with the Freddie Hubbard Quintet. Hubbard plays flugelhorn. Kenny Garrett is the alto saxophonist, with Mark Templeton on piano and Ira Coleman playing bass. After you hear and see this, it is likely that you’ll remember April.
The Jazz Journalists Association website has an interesting Jazz Appreciation Month question-and-answer page.
Riftides wishes you a month of rewarding listening.