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Greetings Jazz Friends,

Benefiting from Support … As a third year music teacher in Greeley Colorado, I had the distinct pleasure of benefiting from the generous support of friends from Caracas Venezuela who invited me to join them for six weeks of bliss in their beautiful country. They orchestrated a performance where I had the pleasure of performing with over 50 of the finest jazz musicians in South America. I was not only someone who benefited greatly from their kind financial support, but I was able to expand my horizons through their remarkable connections to a thriving jazz community in their country.

As I reflect back on that great experience some 25 years ago, I wish all of this… the American Jazz Museum, had been around back then. I would love to have shown it off to my newfound Venezuelan friends! Not only for its preservation of the art-form of jazz, with all the unique artifacts (like Charlie Parker’s GRAFTON saxophone, Ella Fitzgerald’s famous sequined gown) or our collection of over 700 HOURS of rare jazz film dating back as far as 1929; but I would have loved to take my South American friends to hear live jazz in The Blue Room, to one of our phenomenal Jammin’ at The Gem concerts, or to the award-winning Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues festival which we host each fall.

My Venezuela experience reminds me how Jazz is truly an international phenomenon born in America. Word has it that “While Jazz was born in New Orleans, it grew up in Kansas City,” and that’s why we have America’s Jazz Museum right here in Kansas City…YOUR CITY.

This is where artists cut their teeth, where schoolchildren come to learn, and scat-singers come to do that thing they do so well!

This is where it lives! Where jazz lives. This is a place where it grows and continues to evolve.

Perhaps, we shouldn’t even be called the American Jazz Museum. To some, the word museum might be interpreted as something static, and we are anything but static.

Even our Permanent Exhibit is interactive with listening stations, touch screen displays and custom mixing boards. Heck, the New York Times called it an “interactive paradise!”

Hey, maybe we should be called the American Jazz Paradise!

Or with all our educational and research components: we could be the American Jazz Paradise Institute!

Whatever you call us, this is a vital organization with an important mission, and we are well on our way to making sure everyone knows it.

Each year, the American Jazz Museum provides an economic impact on the Kansas City area of more than $9M dollars. Some of that is from tourists, and some of that is locally-generated money that stays local. With everything we do, we have a commitment to using local vendors and services; and of course local performing artists. We proudly hired more than 1,000 Kansas-City-area jazz artists just last year. And when we bring in national and international headliners – such as Karrin Allyson, Chick Corea, and Poncho Sanchez resulting in nearly 1,300 jazz artist paychecks last year — that generates more ticket sales and attracts thousands of tourists to the area, where they also patronize restaurants, other clubs and businesses, paying local sales taxes… which benefits us all.

Yet, even as the American Jazz Museum benefits the community, we require support from the individuals of the community.

Each year we operate on a mixture of revenue sources. We benefit from ticket sales and facility rentals. We receive municipal funding, corporate sponsorships, and grant funding from philanthropic foundations in and outside of the city. But most importantly, we rely on individuals who share our passion, who make the commitment to be individual donors to the American Jazz Museum.

It takes all of these revenue sources because many of our programs are free to the public.

Many of the school tours, educational and outreach programs we offer are accessible to the more than 20,000 school-aged children we see each year. Fun programs, such as our monthly Jazz Storytelling sessions fill our lobby with happy little kids who don’t even realize they’re learning valuable life lessons through jazz-infused stories like “How to Hear Colors & How to See Sounds.”

Another popular education program called Jazz Poetry Jams, provides a platform where teenagers use spoken-word and jazz as their backdrop to express their life experiences in a way that benefits them resulting in positive character-building, enhanced critical thinking and cultural enrichment.

During our annual Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival we engage one headliner artist to serve as our artist in residence by participating in panel-discussions and conducting clinics and workshops where students and emerging artists can not only learn new techniques on their instruments, and new trends in the music; but they also benefit from real-life recommendations on how to advance their careers, and how to avoid common hazards. They benefit from having a famous mentor and consequently our patrons benefit from their professional success and musical growth – which translates back to the performance stage!

These, and the other educational and outreach components of our mission, are what help to keep Jazz a living art-form. Exemplars of how the museum’s work provides benefits to it’s patrons.

We are preserving the authenticity of jazz, even as we encourage people to use jazz to find their own voices. We are doing important things here and there is every reason to believe that Kansas City will be a better place for it.

We have a vision to PEER Into the Future for the American Jazz Museum. Our vision is a call to action. It’s a vision for a new journey where you have a seat in our journey’s vessel. With the great work of our strategic planning committee, our board and staff are working side-by-side to help keep us on a trajectory toward our vision…. to expand the appreciation, knowledge and influence of jazz throughout greater Kansas City and beyond.

To say that the American Jazz Museum will benefit from your support is stating the obvious. To say that your support of the American Jazz Museum will benefit the community and beyond is stating the profound!

Thanks for your support.

Some upcoming events you won’t want to miss:

Jazz Film Lecture Series

Saturday, May 31, 2 p.m.
John H. Baker Jazz Film Exhibition, Free
Twenty years after the death of legendary jazz guitarist Joe Pass who recorded the seminal jazz album For Django, the remaining members of his quartet, jazz giants Colin Bailey, John Pisano & Jim Hughart along with Joe’s protege Frank Potenza came together over two days to record for Capri Records Ltd. a tribute to Joe aptly titled For Joe. Documentarian Dailey Pike will moderate a discussion between Potenza and photographer Bob Barry following the screening.

CEO Jazz Showcase

Saturday, May 31, 8:30 p.m.
Blue Room Jazz CLub, $10
Don’t miss one of LA’s greatest jazz guitar export, Frank Potenza in performance at the Blue Room. Paying tribute to the legendary guitarist Joe Pass, Frank will be joined by a stellar cast of KC artists including Mike Pagan (piano), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), Matt Leifer (drums) and yours truly on vibes (on a few tunes…). Should be a swinging good evening!

2014/2015 Jammin’ at the Gem Season

Early bird season tickets are now available for the next season of Jammin’ at The Gem. Talent announcement will follow shortly. Be sure to check in the Performance tab on this site for further details. It’s going to be a great season and we want you to secure your seat at a deeply discounted price today! Contact the museum for details.

2014 Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival

Save the date of October 11th for this annual festival. Talent and ticket pricing to be announced SOON!

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As always, thanks for your dedication and support.

Your fan!