April is Jazz Appreciation Month, aka JAM–what an appropriate acronym! JAM was created in 2002 by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History to celebrate the heritage and history of Jazz. The museum has an education page online with specific information on several musicians like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. During April, they also sponsor concerts, so if you’re in the DC area and would like to know more, go to the JAM Events page. Most events are free or very low cost.
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Jazz and Clarinet
One of my favorite Jazz musicians is Dr. Michael White. He is a clarinetist, which is unusual in Jazz, usually, you hear about the trumpet, piano or saxophone. Clarinet could be found in the early years of traditional jazz, with George Lewis and through the 40’s with the swing and big band sound, with musicians like Benny Goodman. But the sound of the clarinet fell off and the saxophone began to become more prominent in Jazz.
I like my Jazz on the New Orleans side and I love to hear the clarinet center stage. Enter, Dr. Michael White. Not only a musician but an educator and a Jazz historian himself. He collected jazz artifacts for over 30 years in New Orleans, including original sheet music and records. Unfortunately, most of his collection, including the original sheet music to Dead Man Blues by Jelly Roll Morton, was lost to the flooding in New Orleans after the levees failed.
Take a listen to a Song for George Lewis by Dr. Michael White.
Or, you can check out this video. Set to the music of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.