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Taking Jazz Appreciation Month, Int'l Jazz Day both viral and local

JazzApril launched: JJA media campaign for broad jazz coverage

Mar 6th, 2013 | By

The Jazz Journalists Association has launched JazzApril, a pro bono multi-platform media campaign to foment media attention to jazz, the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month initiative and its culmination, International Jazz Day (April 30, with major events being produced globally by UNESCO through good services of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz).

In hopes of facilitating local coverage by local media producers of local jazz scenes, the JazzApril website is rich with networking links, downloadable graphics, educational resources, suggestions of strategies suitable for organizations and businesses, musicians, journalists (including photographers and new media producers), broadcasterseducators, venues, bookstores and municipal officials — who are being urged to issue proclamations recognizing JAM and IJD as well as the cultural significance and economic impact of jazz activities in their immediate vicinity. Both JAM and IJD are events endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The JJA, via development director Susan Brink (Susan@jazzjournalists.org) is also organizing JazzApril parties, so far in almost two dozen American cities plus Ottawa, which will honor the JJA’s 2013 class of locally-chosen Jazz Heroes. Names of this year’s Jazz Heroes will be announced on April 1, online. Watch the JJA’s public Facebook page and follow our Twitter account @JazzApril_JJA  or use the hashtag #jazzapril. Events are being considered in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Gainesville, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Nogales, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Schenectady, Tallahassee, Washington DC and elsewhere. The JJA has scheduled a webinar for activists and hosts of JazzApril parties on Wednesday, March 13 at 8 pm. Eastern time, with panelists Pauline Bilsky, executive director of JazzBoston; Dustin Garlitz, Gainesville-based publisher of JazzTalent.com, musician and phd candidate in philosophy, and Jay Westbrook, a city councilman in Cleveland who has been a longtime supporter of April’s Tri-C Jazz Festival. The webinar is free, but participants must register in advance.

Excitement about JazzApril has taken off, from the first week of exposure of the campaign on the JJA’s social media pages and Twitter account. The JJA has received help and/or moral support to date from representatives of Smithsonian Jazz, the Monk Institute and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, APAP,, the Future of Music Coalition, JazzTimes, the Jazz Foundation of America, JEN, Kickstarter, the New School Jazz program, Mack Avenue Records, SongKick and Record Store Day. Grass roots organizations including JazzBoston, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Jazz Cloud (Philadelphia), JazzWest (Bay Area), Capitol Bop (Washington DC) and the Western Jazz Presenters Network have so far pledged collaborative support.

How  the JJA — a tiny non-profit that operates solely on membership dues and modest sponsorships is able to use free or inexpensive social media and other digital tools to network and activate local communities nationally and world-wide (with contacts in New Zealand and Germany so far) in support of America’s signature art form – jazz – is a story in itself, awaiting report. For purposes of this article, it must only be acknowledged that JazzApril is the brainchild of the JJA’s media director and webmaster, JoAnn Kawell.

JazzApril is still a work-in-progress. Hastily organized, since plans for International Jazz Day were not solidified until January 2013, the initiative may be benefitting from the sense of urgency its advocates have developed as the official jazz appreciation month looms near. It’s not too late for any JJA member, jazz industries professional or amateur jazz devotee to get involved in the efforts. For further information, email president@jazzjournalists.org or better yet, sign up for the JazzApril mailing list. Voting for nominees of the JJA Jazz Awards is also taking place during April, with winners of the Jazz Awards’ musical categories to be announced online, May 1.

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