Cool Jazz

Collection by Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

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Big Band, Swing, Smooth, Bebop, New Orleans, Kansas City, and more. There are many flavors of Jazz, but what makes them all similar? They are uniquely American.

Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
Happy birthday, Duke Ellington!

5 of my favorite things in our Duke Ellington Collection

Within the first week of starting my internship in the Archives Center of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, I was tasked with searching through the Duke Ellington Collection materials for particular scans and images. Throughout my search, I gained a better appreciation for the legendary musician as well as for jazz music and culture. Here are my top five picks of the most interesting documents in the Duke Ellington Collection, which spans the years 1927 to 1974.1…

Did you know that jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald was a big fan of baseball?

The Queen of Jazz and her love of baseball

Red thread is woven in and out of leather, uniting two different pieces into a single object that represents America's favorite pastime and an important part of American identity: baseball. Just as the thread unites the pieces, baseball itself bridges diverse communities and experiences in America.

Can't tell your Dizzys from your Dukes? Whether you're new to jazz, or just looking for a quick and easy way to remember jazz history's names and faces, look no further than LeRoy Neiman's iconic painting, Big Band.

Meet the Titans of Jazz: A guide to LeRoy Neiman's fantasy jam session, Part 2

Can't tell your Dizzys from your Dukes? Whether you're new to jazz, or just looking for a quick and easy way to remember jazz history's names and faces, look no further than LeRoy Neiman's iconic painting, Big Band.

Don't know your Ellington from you Armstrong? Meet 9 titans of jazz (and then drop their names at the very next opportunity) through this vivid painting.

Meet the titans of jazz: A guide to LeRoy Neiman's fantasy jam session

When serious jazz fans namedrop their favorite musicians (and their copious nicknames), it can be a bit intimidating for those of us who are new to jazz appreciation. Don't worry, we're here to help put jazz history's names and faces together—and just in time for Jazz Appreciation Month.

Now on display at themuseum: "Big Band," an epic jazz painting by artist LeRoy Neiman. The painting is 9-by-13 feet and features 18 iconic jazz musicians. Click through to download a jazzy wallpaper for your phone or tablet.

LeRoy Neiman's "Big Band" now on display

Now on display at themuseum: "Big Band," an epic jazz painting by artist LeRoy Neiman. The painting is 9-by-13 feet and features 18 iconic jazz musicians. Click through to download a jazzy wallpaper for your phone or tablet.

Guess one of the 18 American jazz greats in this painting, win a prize.

Which jazz musician appears in the painting at the National Museum of American History?

Guess one of the 18 American jazz greats in this painting, win a prize.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month and our colleagues at Smithsonian Jazz are excited to reveal that this year we will be celebrating Billy Strayhorn, a talented musician and composer. This joyful portrait of Stayhorn was painted by artist Keith Henry Brown. Sign up for our monthly newsletter so you don't miss out on Jazz Appreciation Month fun. #jazz
Jazz Art

National Museum of American History

April is Jazz Appreciation Month and our colleagues at Smithsonian Jazz are excited to reveal that this year we will be celebrating Billy Strayhorn, a talented musician and composer. This joyful portrait of Stayhorn was painted by artist Keith Henry Brown. Sign up for our monthly newsletter so you don't miss out on Jazz Appreciation Month fun. #jazz

Happy birthday, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington! Born here in Washington, D.C., the pianist, composer, and orchestra leader had a huge, international impact on jazz. This is a 1963 program for his performance in Damascus, Syria
Jazz ComposersMajor Events

Happy birthday, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington! Born here in Washington, D.C., the pianist, composer, and orchestra leader had a huge, international impact on jazz. This is a 1963 program for his performance in Damascus, Syria

John Coltrane's Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone, made in Paris about 1965, the year that "A Love Supreme" was released, joined our collection today. The saxophone is one of three principal saxophones Coltrane played and will be on view in the "American Stories" exhibition starting June 17.

Smithsonian Marks “A Love Supreme” 50th Anniversary

John Coltrane's Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone, made in Paris about 1965, the year that "A Love Supreme" was released, joined our collection today. The saxophone is one of three principal saxophones Coltrane played and will be on view in the "American Stories" exhibition starting June 17.

We're kicking off Jazz Appreciation Month tomorrow. You can watch it all live online. We'll receive donations of historic objects from Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice Coltrane, and from jazz photographer, Chuck Stewart. Ravi Coltrane will then discuss his father's career and his studio album, "A Love Supreme", one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. The original manuscript of the album will be on view through June 17, 2014.
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We're kicking off Jazz Appreciation Month tomorrow. You can watch it all live online. We'll receive donations of historic objects from Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice Coltrane, and from jazz photographer, Chuck Stewart. Ravi Coltrane will then discuss his father's career and his studio album, "A Love Supreme", one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. The original manuscript of the album will be on view through June 17, 2014.

Jan. 21, 1942: Count Basie and His Orchestra record "One O'Clock Jump." This 1996 stamp is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Search the Collection | National Postal Museum

Jan. 21, 1942: Count Basie and His Orchestra record "One O'Clock Jump." This 1996 stamp is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Billie Holliday's vocal style was strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, and she in turn was tremendously influential in jazz and pop singing.
Billie HolidayVintage StampsTamponsAfrican American HistoryHistory Facts

Search the Collection | National Postal Museum

Here's "The Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith, one of the greatest jazz singers of the 1920s and 1930s and a major influence on other vocalists of the jazz era.

Search the Collection | National Postal Museum

Jazz trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong, nicknamed "Satchmo" and "Pops," was honored on a 1995 stamp.

Search the Collection | National Postal Museum

Teachers, do your students know how to groove? Check out these interactive lesson plans that help students develop their jazz chops, or skills playing/singing jazz.
Lesson PlansSingingStudents

Smithsonian Jazz

Teachers, do your students know how to groove? Check out these interactive lesson plans that help students develop their jazz chops, or skills playing/singing jazz.