April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Known as JAM, it was created at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History in 2001 to recognize and celebrate the history of jazz. JAM encourages people of all ages to embrace jazz music by attending concerts, joining discussion groups, listening to jazz on the radio and recordings, reading books and more.
April was chosen as the month to focus attention on jazz because so many of the iconic practitioners of the genre were born in this month. The array of artists is dizzying. Tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine was born on April 5th while saxophonists Charlie Rouse (tenor) and Gerry Mulligan (baritone) share April 6th birthdays. Billie Holiday, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and percussionist Mongo Santamaria were all born on April 7th. Vocalist Carmen McCrae’s birthday is April 8th; Herbie Hancock, April 12th; Ttio Puente, April 20th. Jazz bassists Paul Chambers and Charles Mingus share birthdays on the 22nd of the month. Ella Fitzgerald was born on the 25th and Duke Ellington on the 29th. This is not a complete list by any means.
Caffė YA, a book club made up of adults and teens who read young adult themed novels, will hold a Jazz Appreciation Month event with a screening of the film Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary about the life and career of John Coltrane. Following the screening, the film’s director and writer, John Scheinfeld will join the event via Zoom for a discussion. John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist, bandleader and composer who grew up in High Point, NC. He is one of the most acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th-century music. More than a half century after his death, John Coltrane remains a primary influence on contemporary musicians across many music genres. Coltrane has received numerous posthumous awards, including a special Pulitzer Prize, and was canonized by the African Orthodox Church.
There will be a second Q&A session after the documentary with local High Point author Frank Morelli who wrote the book On the Way to Birdland. This book weaves a magical tale of odyssey and rediscovery while celebrating the legend of Coltrane. Morelli will give away autographed copies of his book.
The free event will be held on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at the Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd, Greensboro, 27407. It starts at 2 p.m. For more information call 336-373-2925.