It’s Black History Month, and although we celebrate being Black all year, it’s a time to amplify the culture and remind the world of how magical we are. Disney is helping do this by bringing a jazz exhibit to, in addition to the EPCOT Center, cities known for their thriving jazz scenes and roots. With inspiration from the hit Disney/Pixar film Soul, it’s titled “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure,” and it’s latest stop is in NYC at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem to celebrate our past heroes.
“Like the film that inspired this exhibit, ‘The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure’ is a tribute to the human experience,” says Carmen Smith, senior vice president, creative development – product/content & inclusive strategies of Walt Disney imagineering. The exhibit, which was previously housed in New Orleans and Kansas City, opened on Feb. 10 and will be in the Northeast until August 31.
If you’ve watched Disney and Pixar’s Soul, you may remember the musician, mentor and teacher that was the protagonist Joe Gardner. He will accompany visitors on a tour and give them a history lesson on jazz, a musical art form originated by talented African Americans like Buddy Bolden and the legendary Louis Armstrong. Harlem is an ideal place to celebrate the history of jazz and the many Black pioneers who paved the way for the pervasive art form.
“It was here in Harlem that Jazz not only evolved as an international sensation, but a vehicle for social change,” Smith says. “The genre’s enduring influence is a palpable example of the barriers that can be broken when ambition and artistry meet passion and purpose. We’re proud to partner with the National Jazz Museum to preserve and celebrate that special kind of magic.”
You can expect to see a collection of artifacts put together by The National Jazz Museum such as a player piano, a working 78rpm Victrola, and Duke Ellington’s white grand piano. You can also expect maquettes of characters from Soul and virtual experiences via the Play Disney Parks app.
“Our commitment to exploring the Roots & Routes of Jazz emphasizes the ways Black music continues to shape society and global culture,” says National Jazz Museum in Harlem executive director Tracy Hyter-Suffern. “Harlem is one of the world’s cultural destination points. Our partnership with Disney is a unique opportunity to celebrate Jazz, community and Harlem.”
If you’re in New York or plan to be before August, don’t forget to check out the exhibition. It’s a great way to honor those who came before us and the sounds that still captivate so many — with help from a favorite Disney family film. See images from the opening event at the National Jazz Museum, as well as a few images from previous stops for the exhibition.
Check out the exhibition Thursdays to Saturdays from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. EST until August 31.