Kansas City, MO

The American Jazz Museum has its 25th anniversary in September 2022 but the celebration already started

CJ Coombs

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Main entrance of The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.Iknowthegoods at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons.

One place of interest in Kansas City, Missouri is the American Jazz Museum located in the historic district of 18th & Vine. You don't need to be a fan of jazz to appreciate its history. The museum opened in 1997 and is in the same building as the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The museum helps to preserve American jazz, a vital element of music history. You'll find exhibits of jazz icons like Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and more.

You'll also find there is a jazz club. For example, The Blue Room has live performances during the week.

On display among other historical items is Charlie Parker's Grafton alto saxophone. There are also listening stations where you can be introduced to the styles and rhythms of jazz.

The American Jazz Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Smithsonian Affiliations, established in 1996, is designed to facilitate a two-way relationship among Smithsonian Affiliates and the Smithsonian to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning in communities across America. (Source.)
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Portrait of Tommy Potter, Charlie Parker, Max Roach (almost hidden by Parker), Miles Davis, and Duke Jordan (from left to right), Three DeucWilliam P. Gottlieb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Blue Room

The Blue Room is said to be a working jazz club and it's designed to look just like a nightclub from the 1930s. The Blue Room used to be inside the Street Hotel which earned its popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. It was also in a segregated district. Back in those days, jazz clubs were open all the time. The Street Hotel was located at the northeast corner of The Paseo and 18th Street.

The Blue Room has a bar and offers live performances every week.

The American Jazz Museum is also home to the John H. Baker Film Collection. The collection is comprised of over 2000 rolls of film, as well as photographs and other materials, and provides an astounding visual record of jazz performances. (Source.)

The museum's budget issues

The museum began dealing with budget issues in 2017. A report from the Museum Management Consultants suggested the museum refresh its board members and staff as well as temporarily close to regroup. That was in 2018 and it wasn't without criticism. The then museum director stepped down and the Board downsized from 23 members to 8.

In early 2020, Rashida Phillips became the new Executive Director of the museum. Of course, then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. This gave Phillips time to plan on how to spread the word about the American Jazz Museum and reflect on the consultant's report.

With September 2022 being the official date of the museum's 25th anniversary, the celebration began earlier this year. Seven-time Grammy-nominated Mingus Big Band performed at the historic Gem Theater, one of the museum's buildings, in the museum's "Believe In: Legacy 25" event.

From December 2021 through April 2022,

AJM became a co-creator of Disney’s traveling 'The Soul of Jazz' exhibit, based on the imagery from the animated Disney and Pixar film 'Soul.' The traveling exhibit features Kansas City and other cities that had an influence on jazz as stops and looks at the history and legendary figures of jazz. (Source.)

To continue celebrating the museum's upcoming anniversary, there will be an In the Yard celebration event to take place the weekend before Charlie “Yardbird” Parker’s birthday (b. Aug. 29, 1920, d. Mar. 12, 1955).

All about jazz

According to VisitTheUsa.com, there are six museums in the country that celebrate the value of jazz, and the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri is one of them. The others are listed below:

  • National Jazz Museum in Harlem and Louis Armstrong House Museum, New York, New York
  • New Orleans Jazz Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Grammy Museums, Los Angeles, California, and Cleveland, Mississippi
  • Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO
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