April 2012 marks the celebration of the 11th annual Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). The U.S. Department of Education is joining forces once again with the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History as well as more than 25 governmental, cultural, and community organizations to support this important cultural and educational initiative.
Each year, JAM draws national attention to the importance of jazz as both an historical and living cultural treasure. As in years past, the Department is informing more than 16,000 public middle schools of the educational opportunities surrounding the celebration of this uniquely American art form. In late March, the Department distributed a letter from Assistant Deputy Secretary James H. Shelton III to all middle school administrators, encouraging local participation by their schools in JAM.
Planned activities in the Washington, D.C. area will pay homage to Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery, and others with performances, workshops, lectures, and discussions. The preliminary roster of participating artists includes the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, the Jolley Brothers Group, Chilean singer/songwriter/arranger Claudia Acuña, vocalist Christie Dashiell, bassist Pepe Gonzalez, and artist Sami Miranda. For a complete listing of JAM activities, in Washington, D.C., and around the country, go to http://www.smithsonianjazz.org/.