Search the Collection:

Artwork copyright James Pink. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Jazz, Uniquely American

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know.” —Louis Armstrong, American trumpeter, composer, and vocalist (1901–1971).

Jazz Appreciation Month is held every April in the United States. It pays tribute to jazz as both a living and historic music. Schools and organizations celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with free concerts and educational programs.

Jazz is a uniquely American music and one of America’s original art forms. It originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, from blues and ragtime music. But jazz also has much older roots in West African music.

Many of the artists in Washington’s State Art Collection also have a love and appreciation for jazz. These artworks focus on jazz musicians and instruments literally. They also use jazz as a starting point for inspiration and abstract ideas about rhythm and expression.