Top of page

Photo by Elaina Finkelstein/Library of Congress. Note: Privacy and publicity rights for individuals depicted may apply.

Celebrating International Jazz Day

Share this post:

This season, Concerts from the Library of Congress has showcased the Library’s jazz collections for the esteemed performing artists who have appeared on the series. We are dedicated to fostering reflection and perspective by connecting these artists with our varied collection, ensuring that the work of major artists from the past century remains available to those who continue the legacy of jazz legends like Billy Strayhorn, Ella Fitzgerald, and Max Roach. With over 25 million items, our vast music collection tells a compelling history of the talent, creativity, perseverance, and discipline of many men and women whose work forged the creative space we enjoy today.  In this blog, we invite you to revisit some of the memorable moments shared with each artist this season.

On April 17, we welcomed Cuban living legend Maestro Chucho Valdés for his second visit to the Library. He performed at the Coolidge Auditorium in October 2019 (see his interview from that visit here). This spring, we had the privilege of hosting him for a display that was filmed as part of a forthcoming documentary film. The display included scores from his late father, Maestro Bebo Valdés, such as “Qué Vamo’ A’ Come’?” the first score ever published by his father. In 2019, Chucho mentioned that although he knew that piece, he had never seen it in print. During his visit, Chucho generously donated a signed score of his work “La Creación” for the Library’s collections.

Bebo Valdés Copyright deposits, Music Division.
Photo credit: Claudia Morales

Chucho Valdés views music from the Gershwin Collection, Music Division.
Photo credit: Elaina Finkelstein

In March, we hosted the husband-and-wife duo, The Baylor Project, featuring Jean and Marcus Baylor. Tailoring our display to their individual artistry, we showcased costume sketches and the score of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Samson and Delilah,” featuring Jessye Norman’s annotations. For Marcus, who is a drummer, we shared the score of “We Insist” from the Max Roach Papers, alongside correspondence from the National Negro Opera Company Collection. Watch a conversation with Jean and Marcus Baylor from March 2024.

Jean and Marcus Baylor view Jessye Norman’s annotated piano vocal score for “Samson and Delilah,” Jessye Norman Papers, Music Division.
Photo credit: Claudia Morales

On March 1, we presented the great pianist, composer, bandleader and educator Arturo O’Farrill, founder of Belongó. We presented him scores of his father’s Chico O’Farrill “Carambola” and Mario Bauzá’s “Tanga,” both from the Francisco Grillo “Machito” Papers. We also showed him the manuscript of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Watch Arturo O’Farrill’s interview from March 2024.

Arturo O’Farrill with music from the Machito Papers, Music Division.
Photo credit: Claudia Morales

In December, we hosted Chief Adjuah, the talented trumpet player, composer, bandleader, and creator of ‘stretch music’ and the Adjuah bow. We presented Chief many original scores, including Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” Chief and drummer and friend Joe Dyson giggled about it as he told us the story of his grandfather playing this piece when he was a young child.

Chief Adjuah and Joe Dyson view items from the Charles Mingus Collection, Music Division.
Photo credit: Claudia Morales

In the fall of 2023, we hosted alto saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Lakecia Benjamin, who is the 2023-2024 Library of Congress Jazz Scholar. Among the myriad items, a highlight was the copyright deposit of John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme.” This was special to her as, in 2020, she released her tribute album “Pursuance,” dedicated to John and Alice Coltrane, which emphasizes the deep reverence she holds for their work. She mentioned that although she knew the piece well, she learned it from the elders and had never seen the score. Enjoy Lakecia’s Library of Congress interview here and her previous guest blog post.

Lakecia Benjamin with the Copyright deposit of John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme,” Music Division.
Photo credit: Claudia Morales

As we commemorate International Jazz Day, we pay tribute to the talented, creative, dedicated, and disciplined artists whose work not only reflects the contributions of those who came before, but also enriches and expands the ever-evolving tapestry of jazz music—a genre whose embrace spans cultures and continents. Learn more about the Library’s jazz collections by exploring our jazz research guide.





  1. We Chicagoans Love Jazz! Thank You.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.