Smithsonian Jazz Appreciation Month in Washington DC

Exploring Jazz in the Nation's Capital

Photo © Ryan McVay

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, founded in April 2002,  as an annual event that pays tribute to jazz both as a historic and living American art form. The Smithsonian Institution has a long record of leadership in preserving and promoting the history of jazz and celebrates the month with special talks, workshops, concerts and more. This year’s celebrations include free concerts, and rich educational opportunities.

To celebrate the centennial of jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald (1917–1996), the National Museum of American History will unveil “Ella Fitzgerald: The First Lady of Song at 100,” a special display opening April 1, 2017 exploring her impact on American jazz culture through a collection of objects, sheet music and photographs. The exhibit will inaugurate the museum’s 16th annual Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), which begins with a March 31 Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra highlighting women in jazz. 

2017 Programs and Performances

Women in Jazz—The Influence of Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams and Lil Hardin Armstrong. Friday, March 31; 7:30 p.m. Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West. Tickets required: $25–$40. For tickets, visit

Celebrating the work of female composers, musicians, and orchestrators, with a special spotlight on Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams and Lil Hardin Armstrong, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will explore the lasting influence of women in jazz.

Smithsonian Jazz Objects Out of Storage. Tuesday, April 4, 11, 18, 25; 1–3 p.m. Wallace H. Coulter Plaza, 1 West. Free; no tickets required. Every Tuesday, the museum will present rarely seen jazz objects, instruments and archives from the museum’s collections for the public to view.

Object themes:  April 4: Women in Jazz, April 11: Latin Jazz (featuring a special hands-on drum activity), April 18: Women in Jazz, April 25: Ella Fitzgerald

Jazz Appreciation Month Daytime Concerts. Thursday, April 6, 13, 20, 27; noon, 1 and 2 p.m. Wallace H. Coulter Plaza, 1 West. Free; no tickets required. Every Thursday, the museum will feature three performances by local musicians and universities celebrating the role of women in jazz: April 6: USAF Airmen of Note, April 13: Howard University Jazz Ensemble, April 20: Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble, April 27: George Washington University Latin Jazz Band

Jazz Piano in LeFrak Lobby. April 24, 25, 26, 28; noon. LeFrak Lobby, 1 Center. Free; no tickets required.Throughout the last week of April, visitors can enjoy jazz performances by talented, local pianists. This program is in partnership with Big Band Jam! The American Federation of Musicians and Blues Alley.

Cooking Up History: The Food of Jazz. Friday, April 28; 2 p.m. Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West. Free; no tickets required. This program will explore the relationship between food, jazz and American history with guest chef Rock Harper, who will prepare dishes from America’s leading jazz communities.

Jazz on the Road. Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble and Sharon Clark: Ella at 100. Tuesday, April 25; 8 and 10 p.m. Blues Alley in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. Individual tickets required: $35. For tickets, visit Blues Alley at:

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Sunday, April 30; 3 p.m. Capitol Theater in Chambersburg, Pa. Individual tickets required: $10. For tickets, visit the Capitol Theater at

For more information about JAM events, visit

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