John Edward Hasse
Curator of American Music, National Museum of American History
John Edward Hasse is a music historian, pianist, and award-winning author and record producer. He is curator emeritus of American music and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, he was the the founding executive director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, an acclaimed big band, and where he founded the national Jazz Appreciation Month, celebrated ever April throughout the US.
What better way to close the History Film Forum than with jazz and history! In the late ’50s, U.S. government officials eager to make a case for America’s superiority to Communist regimes found a new vehicle to deliver the message to a global audience. They staged a series of global tours of top jazz musicians to showcase the popular and inclusive art form, promoting the democratic values enshrined in the music while also offsetting the backlash brewing among African Americans fed up with discrimination. The 90-minute Jazz Ambassadors*, directed by award winning filmmaker Hugo Berkeley, will showcase the overseas adventures of jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington and draw on archival footage of the performances and visits, as well as interviews with surviving musicians who toured. This program includes clips from the upcoming film, a look into the creative process, discussion with jazz scholars, archival footage and performances by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
*Funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities