Sousa Archives Celebrates International Jazz Day On April 24, 2018

On  April 24th the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois community will  again celebrate  the run-up to International Jazz Day with live music and historical films at the Art Theater, the first of two free events that evening.

America’s Jazz Ambassadors: Joy to the World highlights the U.S. State Department program that sent Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck and many other exceptional musicians abroad to show the world what freedom and democracy were all about.  At the height of the Cold War the United States created the “Jazz Ambassadors program to bring the best of American culture to world…and exchange ideas and friendship.”

Several Illinois connections will also be highlighted, including the University of Illinois jazz band under the direction of John Garvey.  Morgan Powell, Pulitzer Prize-nominated composer and trombonist, will share recollections of having toured Eastern Europe with Garvey’s jazz ensemble under the auspices of the State Department.  Randy Salman, professor of music at DePauw University, spent ten years with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra touring the U.S. and Canada as well as Egypt during the SJMO’s  2008 State Department tour.  Salman also has many tales to tell and has shared them with the evening’s presenters.

Tom Birkner, who succeeded Garvey as director of the University of Illinois jazz bands, and WEFT Radio jazz host, Bob Selby, will offer commentary on the films and elicit  stories of Powell’s and Salman’s State Department tour experiences.

Following the Art Theater program, an after-party at the Esquire Lounge will feature the Champaign Central High School Jazz Combos, playing from 7:00-9:00 under the direction of John Currey.

For more information about this exciting programming call 217-333-4577 or email Amani Ayad at or Scott Schwartz at

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