April is Jazz Appreciation Month!

By Rashida Skaar

Did you know that April is Jazz Appreciation Month? Jazz Appreciation Month (also aptly known as JAM), began in 2001 by the Smithsonian Institute to recognize the incredible impact Jazz music, culture and art has had on American consciousness for over a century.[1]

As a musical tradition, jazz has been identified as being a distinctly African American music tradition that sprang from the ragtime and blues traditions of the deep south (namely New Orleans, Louisiana) and grew to become an American cultural touchstone. Jazz was ushered into existence through the creative music and storytelling of the Black Americans who improvised and built its complex chord structures, call and response instrumentation and intricate rhythms from a mixture of music from West Africa, American folk music, and the spiritual music traditions of enslaved and free people who flowed through the south and into the north during the end of the Reconstruction period and the Great Migration [2]. Jazz's existence in this country has come to symbolize "Black accomplishment and virtuosity..." as well as "segregation and creative limitations," as African Americans were often restricted from exercising their creative freedom due to discrimination, Jim Crow laws and cultural appropriation from white musicians who faced none of the censures experienced by the genre's originators. [3]

An examination of Jazz music is an examination of American history; and the thoughts, feelings, stories and hardships of Black Americans can be heard and felt in every note. One cannot overstate the impact that Jazz music and culture has had on American history. And Marin County has deep connections to Jazz music as well! (Check out the image of Marin City's Festival on the Green poster from 1992! You can see it in person at the Marin City Library!) 

During Jazz Appreciation Month, all of us at Marin County Free Library encourage you to explore deeply the the music, film and print resources that will grow your understanding of this great American art form and the people who gave this genre its distinctive soul and swing!

Jazz Appreciation Month Events and Resources


Thursday, April 25, 5-7:30pm

Book and Music List

Check out books, music and films to explore the Jazz genre! 

Online Resources

Alexander Street Smithsonian Global Sound Audio Collection

Listen to music from an extensive virtual encyclopedia of unique American folk, blues, soul, jazz, and protest songs, as well as a broad range of world music through partnership with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Smithsonian Museum of American History's Jazz Appreciation Month Resources

Download a free Jazz Appreciation month poster or explore a number of excellent free resources celebrating Jazz music!


  1. Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (2024) Jazz Appreciation Month https://americanhistory.si.edu/explore/projects/smithsonian-jazz/jazz-appreciation-month
  2. Jazz. (2024, March 20). In Britannica Online. Retrieved April 11, 2024. https://www.britannica.com/art/jazz
  3. Glibb, A. (2002, March 3). African American musicians reflect on what is this thing called jazz? UC Santa Cruz Newscenter. https://news.ucsc.edu/2002/03/79.html