John Edward Hasse

Jazz Appreciation Month

In the late 1990s, troubled by the under-appreciation of jazz in the country of its birth, and inspired by the success of Black History Month, I conceived of the idea of a national “month” for jazz—Jazz Appreciation Month or JAM. Of course, jazz should be recognized and celebrated every month of the year, but designating a month for it, I reasoned, could provide a focus for awareness, a hook for the news media, and a platform for a nationwide celebration.

This is what’s key: reaching the next generation of adults, giving them some exposure to jazz. I find that wherever I go—throughout the United States and around the world—hardly anybody says, “I hate jazz.” But a lot of people will tell me, “I don’t know jazz,” which is entirely different. If you expose people to jazz, most will find things to like: there’s something in jazz for just about everybody. Maybe you don’t like bebop, but you like hip-hop-infused jazz. Maybe you don’t like Herbie Hancock’s acoustic stuff but you like his electric piano recordings—or vice versa. Maybe you don’t care for avant-garde jazz, but like the traditional sound of collective improvisation in New Orleans jazz. There’s just so much to appreciate.

Jazz Appreciation Month logo.


Every year since 2001, the museum has released a poster to promote Jazz Appreciation Month. CLICK HERE to see them all.

It’s like classical music. Most people don’t equally like all of the styles from Gregorian chant to Beethoven to Stockhausen; they more like love some part of the spectrum of classical music. And the same is true of jazz. There’s really something for everyone.

I put together a coalition of national and international organizations—over time, as many as thirty participated in inviting its stakeholders to participate, including the Smithsonian, the musicians’ union, the American Library Association, the Grammy Foundation, NPR, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, and the Voice of America.

As many as 200,000 posters were printed each year and distributed free of charge. The US State Department sent tens of thousands of JAM posters to every embassy and consulate around the world. The music educators and librarians’ associations sent every member a poster. Teachers and librarians eagerly accepted and displayed the posters.

Today, JAM is celebrated in all 50 states and in 40 countries. For more information, and to learn how you can participate, click here.

Jazz Appreciation Month is celebrated around the world. Here at Durban Preparatory School, Durban, South Africa, with jazz educator-musicians Willie Hill and Ron McCurdy visiting from the United States.

Quincy Jones helps the museum announce the creation of Jazz Appreciation Month, in July 2001.
Smithsonian photo

Pianist Ramsey Lewis helps the museum launch Jazz Appreciation Month, March 31, 2008.
Smithsonian photo

Philadelphia became a strong supporter of Jazz Appreciation Month.

In Dallas, it’s called DJAM.


With encouragement from the American Library Association, many libraries host special displays or events in April. Here is one such display at a branch of the New York Public Library