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Jazz Appreciation Month Celebrated

May 16, 2008, 8:30 AM | Article By: By Momodou Justice Darboe and Njie Baldeh

Each April, the United States celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), an opportunity to savor a major American contribution to world culture.

Initiated by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, JAM aims to focus public attention on the music, and on the many talented composers, musicians and other contributors to the sound.

Recently, the American embassy in Banjul observed Jazz Appreciation Month but what is Jazz? Well a leaflet made available to Entertainment explains it thus, "Jazz is the most consequential, influential and innovative music to emerge from the United States and New Orleans, Louisiana, is widely known as the birthplace of jazz.

This is of course a very succinct explanation of what jazz is but to those who enjoy it, jazz is an exceptional experience that enlightens the mind and thrills the soul. There are of course many forms of jazz as by their very nature the jazz musician is a restless animal constantly seeking to innovate and develop their art. Among the original forms of the art was Ragtime and among the best-known exponents of this lively piano based form was Mr. Scott Joplin. His pieces including The Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer remain popular to this day despite being over one hundred years old.

If Scott Joplin and his ragtime compatriots were rooted firmly in the piano then the guitar was the instrument of choice for the blues men. There are many who would argue that jazz and the blues are different forms of music but to anyone who has experienced the deep passions of either form will appreciate the deep human energy that fires them both. Most of the great bluesmen came from the Mississippi Delta which runs 322 kilometers along the Mississippi River from Memphis Tennessee to Vicksburg Mississippi. These included Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters.

For those who appreciate jazz the appreciation month is an opportunity to indulge their love of great music and for those who are not fully versed, it is an opportunity to get introduced to one of the world's great art forms." For anyone wishing to learn more about jazz or simply expand their knowledge visit www.smithsonianjazz.org