Concerts and Recordings

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    Concerts and Events

    Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
    2022–2023 Concert Series  

    Under the artistic direction of maestro Charlie Young, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra has celebrated some of the greatest jazz music throughout its 32-year history as one of the crown jewels of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The new SJMO season promises to continue that tradition in a series of standout concerts, all of which are held in person. Additional concerts will be announced throughout the season. Please check back here often for more information! 

    Jazzed About Art: Jazz Appreciation Month 
    Saturday, April 1, 7:00 p.m. 

    To kick off the annual worldwide celebration of jazz, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra offers a soundtrack filled with rhythm, texture, and color as it showcases the work of prominent 20th–century visual artists including William Sharp, John Fenton, and Romare Bearden. "Be-Bop" by Dizzy Gillespie, "Crying and Singing" by McKinney's Cotton Pickers, and "Kingdom of Not" by Sun Ra are among the musical selections. 

    Tickets on sale through the Smithsonian Associates
    Members $20; Nonmembers $25 

    The Duke Ellington Orchestra: A Centennial Celebration 
    Saturday, June 10, 7:00 p.m. 

    They’ve been called everything from the Washingtonians to Duke Ellington and His Kentucky Club Orchestra to Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (and more). But the Duke Ellington Orchestra under any name maintains an unparalleled place in the history of American music. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this legendary ensemble, and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra is ready to celebrate its vast musical legacy. Performance selections include "Rainy Nights,” “Harlem Airshaft,” “Charpoy,” and "The Biggest and Busiest Intersection.” 

    Tickets on sale through the Smithsonian Associates
    Members $20; Nonmembers $25 

    Previous Concerts

    Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith, and the Centennial Year of Race Records 
    February 18, 2023

    The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble delves into the vocal stylings of legendary blues singers Mamie Smith and Bessie Smith, the Queen of the Blues and the Empress of the Blues. Both Mamie Smith and Bessie Smith (no relation) were highly touted in the 1920s for their groundbreaking Okeh “Race Record” recordings. Singer Ekep Nkwelle performs “Crazy Blues" (1920), "Gulf Coast Blues" (1923), and “Jenny’s Ball” (1931). 


    December 11, 2022

    Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s meteoric rise to stardom was the buzz of the New York jazz scene in 1955, a testament to the unusual abilities of this gifted alto saxophonist. Securing a recording contract only weeks after his arrival, Cannonball paved a career path cemented with a multitude of recordings produced for the Savoy, EmArcy, and Mercury labels. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble performs selections including "A Little Taste," "I've Never Been in Love Before," and "Spectacular" from Cannonball Adderley’s 1955–1958 recordings.  


    Themes from Stage, Radio, TV, and Film
    October 22, 2022

    In anticipation of the opening of the National Museum of American History’s newest exhibition, Entertainment Nation, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra kicks off its 2022–2023 season with a salute to the museum’s collections and the diverse forms of entertainment in the United States over the last 100 years. Musical selections include themes from “M*A*S*H,” “I Love Lucy,” The Wizard of Oz, the musical Chicago, and many more. 


    Support for jazz programming is made possible by

    LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation

    The Argus Fund

    Ray and Vera Conniff Foundation

    Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation
    founding donor of the Smithsonian Jazz Endowment

    David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn

    Goldman Sachs