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November 17, 2011 / charityprofiles

Preserving America’s Native Musical Art Form

Jazz is the preeminent voice of creative improvisation. Its character as a music form is fundamentally indefinable and, yet, most people can instantly recognize jazz the moment they hear it.

Folks that aren’t intimately familiar with the history of this American art form can be forgiven for not knowing jazz’s connection to Kansas City. The Midwest’s hub for many industries was also a hotbed of entertainment during the first half of the twentieth century. KC nurtured a reputation as a wild-west outpost, teeming with speakeasies and hopping entertainment venues, and thus, it became renowned as a destination for the greatest touring musicians of that era.

A museum in Kansas City that celebrates the history of American jazz is located in the traditional heart of that city’s African American culture — where many of the great purveyors of the craft plied their musical wares for many a decade. The American Jazz Museum is a melting pot of displays, audio listening stations and legendary histories told. It even features a small club venue that occasionally hosts live performances.

A large bronze rendering of the head of Kansas City’s greatest musical legend, jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, greets visitors at the western end of the city block upon which the museum is located. Inside the museum, visitors are treated to exhibits and features that cover all of America’s fabled jazz centers: New York, Chicago, New Orleans and KC.

Jazz legend, Duke Ellington

As a not-for-profit operation, the public helps in American Jazz Museum funding through admissions charged at its location, as well as through charitable donations. The museum consistently strives to stay abreast of cutting-edge technology in maintaining the viability of its mission.

No visit to Kansas City — for any jazz lover, anyway — is complete without an exploration of the American Jazz Museum. The experience is as cool as it gets!

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