The National Jazz Museum: A Celebration of Jazz's Living, Breathing Influence

By: Dylan Rodgers

Jazz is not simply music; it's an expression of an identity.  Its syncopated rhythms and fluid, malleable structure evokes the chaotic melodies of human nature:  an unpredictable flow from silky sweet to erratic dissonance and back.  No community outside New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, has embraced it like Harlem, NY.  Legends like Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and many more found their muse in Harlem and by rooting deep into the community, changed the face of music around the world.

Jazz is not a thing of the past, a relic to be dusted off from time to time and reminisced about.  The National Jazz Museum of Harlem, a non-profit arts organization, has dedicated its efforts to nurture the living, breathing culture.  By promoting contemporary jazz artists and establishing education programs to teach jazz history as both a musical revolution and cultural expression, the museum's directors, Loren Schoenberg and Christian McBride, provide a circumspective picture of the remarkable influence of the jazz-organism.

Just walking down the street you can see people playing saxophones, horns, guitars, and drums.  Their eyes close and their bodies move as an intimate/public connection is made between a person and the rhythm, the melody, the harmony.  In Harlem, jazz is in the people, the bricks, the art, and the literature.  It is far beyond oratory vibrations moving through the air or potential chart-topping hits.  Jazz is the culture; it just shows itself through many forms.  So if Harlem Week is a celebration of Harlem then it is also a celebration of jazz.

Visit the National Jazz Museum of Harlem.  For information on upcoming events, performances, and all things jazz, click here.