April marks Jazz Appreciation Month, an annual celebration that recognizes jazz as a national and global treasure.
The international observance was developed by the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, made into law by Congress and signed by the president in August 2003. April was chosen for the celebration because of the wealth of jazz legends born during the month, including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus and plenty others.
During JAM, people of all ages are encouraged to discover jazz through all kinds of media and events, including concerts, audio recordings, radio shows, books and videos. Locally, you can listen to jazz on WICR-FM 88.7 at the following times: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 6 p.m.-midnight; and Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
You can catch videos that have preserved performances by Indy jazz legends Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson and Wes Montgomery. There’re also great bio-pics about jazz legends to choose from, including Bird, about the legendary Charlie Parker, and Round Midnight, starring sax legend Dexter Gordon.
Free programs celebrating JAM will be offered at local high schools and universities. Keep an eye out for concerts throughout the city in April.
Over 45 local musicians past and present have signed up for Mark Sheldon’s “A Great Day in Indy” photography project, some checking in from both coasts. Sheldon hopes to photograph all jazz musicians who have held regular gigs in the Indianapolis area. Sheldon invites those musicians who haven’t yet signed up to call 317-445-4640 or visit his Web site www.agreatdayinindy.com. The photo will be taken June 1 at 10:30 a.m. on the steps of the Indiana History Center.
Owl Studios recording artists will be featured at the Jazz Kitchen (5377 N. College Ave.) this weekend. Friday, March 28, the exciting Dixon/Rhyne Project will be on the bandstand. Saturday, March 29, fiery vocalist Cynthia Layne & Friends will return. Shows are at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
The Chatterbox (435 Massachusetts Ave.) has booked a weekend of soulful blues, pop and jazz vocalists. Friday, March 28, Mary Moss (“The Lady With a Song”) and Friends will swing the night away. Saturday, March 29, Goldie & Exquisitely Yours will offer soulful vocal renditions of pop and R&B classics.
Sunday Jazz at Ruth’s Chris Steak House downtown (45 S. Illinois St.) will feature vocalist Wendy Reed and the Ken Fary Trio performing standards with flair from 6:30-10:30 p.m. No cover.