American Jazz Museum plays key note in KC


Kansas City has long been a player in great jazz music.

Kansas City Jazz got its start in the 1920s; mixing blues with jazz to create a defined sound.

IMG_3708At its height during prohibition, Kansas City’s 18th and Vine District was considered one of the “jazz capitals” of the United States, on par with New Orleans and New York.

New Orleans may have been the birthplace of American jazz, but it grew up in Kansas City, says

IMG_3702Jazz music remains a staple in the 18th and Vine District. Music and dance clubs dot the landscape in the area.

Kansas City honors it jazz history at the American Jazz Museum.

IMG_3136The museum, located in the same building as the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, pays tribute to jazz greats, and highlights the music.

Louis Armstrong, the “Great Sacthmo,” has a trumpet on display, along with his famous lip balm. The balm kept his lips moisturized and allowed him to belt out great sounds.

IMG_3674Charlie “Bird” Parker is a native of Kansas City. He grew up playing in the area and performed with some of the greatest jazz musicians of the 1920-30s, including Dizzy Gillespie.

IMG_3687A sculpture of Parker, “Bird Lives,” is located a block or so away from the museum.

IMG_3222The museum offers a chance for people, mainly younger kids, to get a firsthand look at jazz. People can take part in interactive exhibits regarding specific instruments, such as a drum, bass, and brass instruments.

The museum has an art display of album covers of great jazz performers.

IMG_3777An exhibit recognizing the great singer Ella Fitzgerald showcases a sequined gown she wore and album covers.

IMG_3746The museum has a working jazz club – The Blue Room.

IMG_3716During the day, visitors can admire the photographs of jazz musicians that line a wall. You can check out an art piece made of recycled material that is based on Billie Holiday.

IMG_3727A few tables one the club floor have glass tops with memorabilia underneath. Albums, dance shoes and dance permits are among the pieces of history.

IMG_3733At night, The Blue Room becomes an actual jazz club, with live music and dancing. It’s on the to-do list on a future trip.

Among the exhibits is a unique one recognizing Duke Ellington.

IMG_3754Near the entrance, stands a saxophone, autographed and donated by former President Bill Clinton.

IMG_3657If you are a music historian, or just curious, you’ll enjoy the American Jazz Museum.

I suggest getting the combo ticket, which covers admission for the Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The combo ticket saves a little money.

Right next door is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.  Read about our visit there –

IMG_3722For more information on the Jazz Museum in Kansas City, please visit

Disclosure: The visit to the American Jazz Museum was sponsored by the Kansas City Visitors Bureau.  However, all opinions and comments are mine.