Please Note: Two of the five concerts have updated statuses as of mid-October 2023.
Under the artistic direction of maestro Charlie Young, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra has celebrated some of the greatest jazz music throughout its 33-year history as one of the crown jewels of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The 2023–2024 SJMO season adds new excitement and luster to that musical tradition.
Important Location Note: Most concerts take place at Baird Auditorium in the National Museum of Natural History, except for the February 10 program, held at the Warner Bros. Theater at the National Museum of American History.
Rescheduled Status: Sunday, December 3, 2023 Thad Jones: A Centennial Celebration
Developing his orchestration aesthetic during his Basie years, for over three decades Thad Jones contributed greatly to the tonal and textural evolution of modern big band composing and arranging. The SJMO kicks off its season by honoring the great Thaddeus Joseph Jones with a centennial tribute. Selections may include “Her Royal Highness,” “A Child Is Born,” and “Tip Toe.” (Full Orchestra)
Saturday, February, 2024 The Legacy of Max Roach
Inspired by Chick Web, Sonny Greer, Jo Jones, and the innovations of Kenny Clarke, during the 1940s Max Roach revolutionized the world of modern drum-set playing. He developed a swing and cymbal technique with dynamic expression that became the template for the creative imagination and technical mastery required to move modern jazz forward. With songs such as “Four-X,” “Cou-Manchi-Cou,” and “Liberté,” the SJMO honors the legacy of Max Roach, who would have turned 100 in January 2024. (Smaller Ensemble)
Friday, April 5, 2024 Aspects of Ellington
Duke Ellington composed dynamic music that inspired vivid visual imagery and emotion. Combining his unconventional orchestration technique with the unique talent of his individual orchestra members, Ellington was able to transpose everyday life into musical works of art. To mark what would have been his 125th year, the SJMO launches Jazz Appreciation Month by highlighting elements of the Duke's music and his orchestra. Songs may include “East St. Louis Toodle-oo,” “Degas Suite,” and “Jack the Bear.” (Full Orchestra)
Saturday, June 1, 2024 Sarah Vaughan: The Divine One
Sarah Vaughan's colorful vocal tone, unparalleled range, elastic stylized phrasing, and all-around dynamic musical interpretation earned her the moniker "The Divine One." Also known as "Sassy," Vaughan became one of the greatest jazz vocalists in the history of the music. To close out the concert season, the SJMO features singer Sharón Clark as we celebrate the centennial year of NEA Jazz Master Sarah Vaughan. Songs may include “After You've Gone,” “It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing)” and “The Lady's in Love with You.” (Full Orchestra)
Postponed Status: July 2024 Jazz and the U.S. Armed Services
Official military bands date back to 1798 with the establishment of the U.S. Marine Band. In the 1910s, First Lieutenant James Reese Europe infused elements of jazz into military music, and today all branches have an official jazz ensemble. The SJMO salutes the U.S. military jazz bands and the role they play inspiring soldiers, fostering patriotic support, and promoting national interests at home and abroad. Selections include “Memphis Blues,” “American Patrol,” and “Armed Forces Medley.” (Full Orchestra)
Each concert's musical program is subject to change.