NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If you get into debates with friends about who the greatest influence was in jazz music, you can consider yourself a fan of this uniquely American musical art form.
There are plenty of places to enjoy good jazz music in the country, but there are fewer that can lay claim to historic venues, schools and museums dedicated to jazz.
If you're a fan of the music or a fan of history, you'll want to visit these ten places overflowing with jazz:
1. The American Jazz Museum: The 18th & Vine district in Kansas City, Mo. has long been a hot spot for jazz. The district is now home to a Smithsonian-affiliated museum featuring exhibitions on Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, among many others. The museum houses a saxophone owned by Charlie Parker and attendees can put on headsets and listen to music as they make their way through. A bonus is Kansas City's Blue Room attached to the museum and the historic Gem Theater across the street. Stay nearby at Kansas City's Crown Center on the edge of downtown in the Westin Crown Center or the Sheraton Kansas City.
2. Newport Jazz Festival: Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Newport, R.I. jazz festival doesn't have any plans for retirement. Set for August 1 - 3, 2014, this year's Newport Jazz Festival will feature the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin spirityouall, Trombone Shorty, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Robert Glasper, Dr. John, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gary Burton, Gregory Porter, Jon Batiste, Dave Holland, John Zorn, Miguel Zenón, The Cookers, Snarky Puppy and more. In addition, the Newport Jazz Festival will present a symposium at Fort Adams State Park. Curated by New York Times critic Nate Chinen, the symposium will discuss how jazz relates to popular culture in today's society, compared to when the festival began in 1954. There are several nearby hotels.
3. New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park: Of course, there are many places to learn about jazz, as well as listen to it in New Orleans, the city that claims its birthplace. This park was designated in 1987 and offers daily interpretive and educational events about jazz history. If you're unable to visit New Orleans in person, some of the events are live streamed from the website. The Commander's Palace, established in 1880, hosts a jazz brunch with live Dixieland by Joe Simon's Jazz Band. Stay at the Loews New Orleans Hotel or the W Hotel French Quarter.
4. Musical Instrument Museum: Phoenix, Ariz. may not come immediately to mind when thinking of jazz history, but the MIM's jazz exhibit includes approximately 20 instruments, many played by jazz greats, as well as original, unreleased performance footage of Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Mann, Spyro Gyra and others from the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. As well, several instruments owned by legendary jazz artists are on display through 2014. Stay at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa or the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.
5. The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival: Held in honor of one of Davenport, Iowa's favorite native sons and influential jazz artist Bix Beiderbecke, this festival is a major event for jazz lovers, especially in the mid-section of the country. Held July 31 – August 3, 2014, there will be 15 jazz bands performing throughout the festival this year. Hotels throughout the region sell out fast for this festival.
6. The Fillmore District: When the lights go down in San Francisco, the Fillmore District is still lit up with the sounds of jazz. The Elite Cafe has been serving up Cajun and Creole food since 1981. The building was born in 1928 during Prohibition as the Lincoln Grill and later transformed into a chop suey house with rumors of basement bookie joint hang outs and gambling. Stay at nearby Kabuki.
7. The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum: From the rural sound of gospel in the Mississippi Delta to the unity between whites and blacks for the sake of music, the Rock 'n' Soul Museum takes you on a historic, musical journey. While on legendary Beale Street, experience music's past while soaking up the high energy of the present as you dance and sway to the urban blues and jazz of the area. Pick any number of clubs, but the original B.B. King's Blues Club is a must. No trip is to the South is complete without a stay at a Peabody Hotel and Memphis has one near.
8. International de Jazz de Montréal: You might be surprised to learn that according to Guinness World Records, the largest jazz festival is not in the U.S., but in Canada. The Festival hosts some 30 countries, 3,000 musicians and public entertainers and 1,000 concerts and activities (two-thirds of them free) – in 15 concert halls and on eight outdoor stages, welcoming more than 2 million visitors to the city, from noon to midnight. This year's festival takes place June 26-July 6, 2014. Stay at either Le St Martin or Le St Sulpice.
9. The Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo, New York: Some of the biggest names in jazz appeared at Buffalo's Colored Musician's Club, which is now also a museum. Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald all performed at the club during Buffalo's heyday as a major stop on the U.S. Jazz circuit. The club, which dates back to 1934, has produced plenty of homegrown jazz talent throughout the decades as well and still hosts musicians throughout each week. The museum pays homage both to Buffalo and America's jazz history. There are several nearby hotels in the region.
10. Boston: During the 1940s, jazz venues sprung up all over town playing host to the music's royalty. You could hear Duke Ellington, Ben Webster and Charlie Parker at places like the Savoy Café, Roseland and the Hi-Hat. There are many places to visit connected to jazz in the city, including the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory. The Boston Jazz Scene website lists many of the upcoming shows. Considered one of the city's premier jazz venues, Scullers Jazz Club is in the Doubletree Hotel – Cambridge.
--Written by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for MainStreet