When This Jazz Band Plays, It’s Not Just Music—it’s History

The musicians who make up the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra specialize in re-creating classic performances from the past

The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) was founded in 1990 by the National Museum of American History. Its mandate is to preserve the history of jazz by re-creating the greatest performances of all time. The ensemble is led by conductor David Baker, chairman of the jazz department at the Indiana University school of music, and a noted composer and author. Its eclectic repertoire ranges from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Fletcher Henderson to Jimmie Lunceford, Glenn Miller and Stan Kenton. The SJMO's versatile musicians don't just play the music; they duplicate the individual styles of saxophonist Johnny Hodges, trumpeter Miles Davis and dozens of other outstanding instrumentalists.

Supported in part by a ten-year grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, and by recent contributions from the Infiniti Division of Nissan Motor Corporation and by the Recording Industries Music Performance Trust Fund, the SJMO performs concerts in Washington, D.C. and around the country. Its music can also be heard on the "Jazz Smithsonian" program on National Public Radio.

In August, the SJMO traveled to Atlanta to perform at the Olympic Arts Festival. It also participated in the Smithsonian Institution's 150th-anniversary celebration on the Mall, and will perform at subsequent galas nationwide.

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