By Jennifer Sadler
Jazz is truly an original American art form recognized around the world for its rich cultural heritage rooted in the African-American experience and many consider jazz to be one of our country’s greatest cultural achievements. In 1987, the U.S. Congress officially declared jazz an American National Treasure—and earlier this year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unanimously agreed to designate April 30 as International Jazz Day.
Born of our “melting pot” of a society in the early 20th century, jazz has become a universal language that unites people across divides of race, gender and geographic boundaries. Today, jazz is performed and listened to by people all over the planet. Reflecting the music’s improvisational structure, jazz makes powerful statements about freedom, creativity and its uniquely American identity. As jazz has developed and spread around the globe it has drawn on countless cultural influences, evolving into distinctive styles from the earliest New Orleans style to big band swing to avant-garde to Latin jazz—and as many more approaches to the music as there are people who play it. Jazz will always be a work in progress, with each new generation bringing new influences, sounds and unique experiences to the music.
Yet, many Americans graduate from high school with little knowledge of the extraordinary heritage and history or importance of jazz.
In its mission to preserve American history and to provide an ongoing education about jazz for our nation's students, the Smithsonian National Museum established Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) in 2001 through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and supplemented by the National Endowment for the Arts. The purpose of the annual celebration (presented every April) is to draw greater public attention to the history of jazz and its importance as an American cultural heritage. In addition, JAM is intended to stimulate the current jazz scene and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz—to study the music, attend concerts, listen to radio and recordings, read books and support institutional jazz programs.
Each year JAM examines and pays tribute to different aspects of jazz history. The 2012 theme is aptly titled Jazz: Crossing Borders and Cultures.
Here in Columbus, we have an immense and colorful history to celebrate when it comes to jazz.
As the most comprehensive online events guide and resource for arts and culture in central Ohio, ColumbusArts.com offers a virtual guide through the Columbus art world with a searchable database of events, concerts, performances and more. ColumbusArts.com is an engaging place for artists and arts organizations to share what they do, with an average of 30,000 users per month. The ColumbusArts.com Artist Directory allows visual, performing and literary artists to create a profile and portfolio to showcase their work—for free—and enables art enthusiasts to easily search for and connect with them. Our monthly ColumbusArts.com artist profile series features interviews with a few of the many talented individuals who make up central Ohio’s thriving creative community. In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month and National Poetry Month this April, GCAC recently interviewed jazz singer, Jen Miller, and slam poet, Scott Woods, to learn more about their respective work as artists in Columbus.
"My family, church and school first helped me understand that I had a gift for singing...at [Capital University's Conservatory of Music], I focused on learning the best vocal techniques and really began to love all forms of American music—especially jazz...Professors like Vaughn Weister, Ray Eubanks, Stan Smith and Joe Hunter encouraged me to sing jazz. In terms of following my dreams to be a singer, my greatest inspiration is my daughter. I want her to believe that she can do anything, and the best way to teach her that is to lead by example."
"I trust my poems. I spend a lot of time making my poems work, in making them engaging. I spend a little time on my performance, which is the exact opposite of a lot of performance poets. Most of them spend a lot of time on their performance and memorizing. I spend that time editing my poems. When you trust your poems, you give yourself over to the experience of sharing them, and that makes me feel good no matter who is in the room."
Columbus Dance Theatre presents Tim Veach Dance
Since its founding in 1998 by artistic director Tim Veach, Columbus Dance Theatre's (CDT) professional contemporary ballet company that performs and its affiliated academy have been an integral part of the central Ohio dance community. With a student body ranging in age from three through 70, training programs from ballet to tap to jazz are created and designed to meet the diverse needs of both recreational dancers and pre-professional students.
ProMusica Chamber Orchestra Presents A Theme on B-A-C-H
Captivating and world-renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman returns to lead ProMusica in a clever program that features Russian masters and a spin on B-A-C-H. What exactly does it mean? Discover the answer at this unforgettable close to the season! As a violinist, Gluzman’s dual role as leader and performer is unique for ProMusica and rare for many orchestras. Gluzman, who has become a good friend to ProMusica, also performed with them in November of 2010.
Open Door Art Studio & MAW Present This Inspired That
Open Door Art Studio is an innovative studio and gallery space that serves adults with disabilities. The work is outstanding, but often overlooked so partnerships with other organizations are sought out to bring new audiences into the space. This Inspired That presented with Mother Artists at Work (MAW) is the first collaborative exhibition with a local art group that will no doubt inspire joint shows with other organizations in the future.