Jazz event celebrates ‘America’s art form’ tonight at Lexington Library

By Kellie Oates

The Lexington Public Library is getting “hip to the jive” this fall by hosting a free eight-part series including film, discussion and live music called “Looking At: Jazz, America’s Art Form.”

The eight programs will take place every Tuesday through Oct. 30, starting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Lexington Public Library downtown.

The UK libraries and the School of Music, along with the Lexington Public Library, put together “Looking At: Jazz,” which is a series of programs, each focusing on a unique era and a specific type of jazz. Various jazz scholars from around the community will teach the programs.

“For students who already love jazz, this will be a great opportunity to delve into the history and impact of jazz in American history,” said Gail Kennedy, director of the Little Fine Arts Library and coordinator for the jazz program. “The films are outstanding and include many live performances of jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday.”

The UK Fine Arts Library was one of 43 sites in the United States selected to host a pilot program for the “Looking At: Jazz” series, and they chose to use the auditorium of the downtown branch of the Lexington Public Library to house the event.

The series is meant to engage the public in a discussion of the history of jazz that isn’t just for jazz enthusiasts.

“For the student who may not be totally captivated by the music, this series may be of interest because of its historical and cultural significance,” Kennedy said. “Jazz music spans the 20th century as music with an African foundation which came out of an American culture. Understanding the history of jazz helps us understand who we are as a people.”

An expert who is familiar with a specific jazz form or era will lead each session’s discussion.

These leaders hope to create “lively interchange with the audience,” Kennedy said.

“This series is a fun educational opportunity whether viewed from a musical or a cultural, social, historical perspective,” Kennedy said.

Tonight’s session will focus on “New Orleans and the Origins of Jazz.” Highlights of the series will include two concerts by the University of Kentucky Jazz Combo, which are scheduled for the Sept. 25 and Oct. 16 sessions. Also, the UK Swing Dance Club is offering discounted tickets for their Nov. 10 swing dance to “Looking At: Jazz” attendees.