Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra


In 1990, the U.S. Congress, recognizing the importance of jazz in American culture, authorized the establishment of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO).

As the national jazz orchestra, the SJMO perpetuates some of the greatest music that jazz has created.  Through its 24 years, the orchestra has distinguished itself as one of the crown jewels of the Smithsonian - itself a pre-eminent national treasure. 

The band has performed for audiences at the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center; at the White House and the U.S. Capitol; at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater; at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta; at prestigious music festivals such as Ravinia and the Monterey Jazz Festival; in schools and colleges; and in Canada, Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Russia, Ethiopia, and Kenya in 2013. 

While the SJMO is not the only jazz orchestra in America, it is unique.  As the only federally-chartered jazz orchestra, it enjoys a position of prestige and importance.  As the only such ensemble resident at a museum (one with vast holdings of jazz music and history), it's in a unique position to make the jazz legacy come alive.

The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra educates the public about the history and development of jazz as an art form and means of entertainment.   It promotes a greater appreciation for jazz as a valuable American treasure by performing jazz masterworks, and presenting educational activities that inform the public of the character of this music.

To learn more and support the SJMO and jazz at the National Museum of American History go to

Watch Past Performances

Video 5/6/2014: Members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra

Members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra—the big band orchestra in residence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History—perform repertoire from the storied 75-year history of the iconic label, Blue Note Records. Part of Blue Note at 75.

Video 5/18/2013: Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Quintet

The Millennium Stage presents a performance by the acclaimed group as part of the Kennedy Center’s annual Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival.

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra