John Edward Hasse in Montenegro

Hasse 2 - March 2018

Our special guest this year for Jazz Appreciation Month in Montenegro was John Edward Hasse (1948), a famous American jazz author, writer, pianist and musicologist. During his two-day visit, Dr. Hasse gave lectures at the Ministry of Culture – “Why We Need the Arts More Than Ever?”, and in Podgorica Gymnasium – “Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song”; he also attended the concerts within the JAM festival, met the minister of culture, secretary of Montenegrin National Commission for UNESCO, and other cultural workers, journalists, musicians and supporters of our JAM; he was interviewed on the National Radio and TV program (RTCG).

Music historian, musician, award-winning author and record producer, John Edward Hasse has served over 30 years as curator of American Music at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, where he was the founding Executive Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, an acclaimed big band, and he founded the national Jazz Appreciation Month, celebrated every April throughout the U.S. and beyond. He has curated a series of exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution. John Edward Hasse is a global voice for American jazz music—and a leader himself in the search for creative achievement. He is the author of a critically acclaimed biography Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington. In January 2018 he received “Legend of Jazz Education” Award, an honor previously given to Ellis Marsalis, David Baker, and Herbie Hancock.

We are delighted to share the interview with John Edward Hasse published on 21 April in “Vijesti” daily.

-Your work for decades as a curator of the American Music in the Smithsonian Institution is very appreciated in the U.S., and is very impressive.  Can you please explain your special interests and accomplishments during your work in this prestigious institution? 

JEH: For me, my work represented far more than a “dream job”—it was a calling.  It was deeply gratifying to pursue my passion—music generally and jazz especially—for 33 years.

My duties were broad and the job was demanding; it meant wearing about twelve different “hats”—collector, preservationist, exhibit curator, scholar, public speaker, advocate, spokesperson, public servant, coalition builder, cultural ambassador, friend-raiser and fund-raiser.

There are three accomplishments I’m particularly proud of.  (1) Leading a concerted effort to build the world’s largest museum collection of jazz history, with artifacts from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and many others.  The Duke Ellington Collection alone is a world treasure—200,000 pages of documents, half of that unpublished music that he and Billy Strayhorn composed for the Duke Ellington Orchestra.  (2) Founding Jazz Appreciation Month, now in its 17th year.  (3) Founding a distinguished big band, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, now in its 27th season of concerts and tours. 

-What inspired you to create Jazz Appreciation Month? 

JEH: I felt that jazz was and is one of the greatest 20th century contributions to American and world culture, but that it was undervalued and underappreciated.  Designating one month to focus on jazz creates an annual occasion and platform for all sorts of public celebrations in schools, college, libraries, museums, concert halls, and radio and TV stations.  JAM is now celebrated across the United States and around the world.

-How this idea spread to the US and abroad?

JEH: The idea has spread in several ways: through the Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum and research complex; through partnerships with thirty-some national and international organizations; and through the passion of individual jazz musicians and advocates, such as Montenegro’s own Maja Popovic.  She leads one of the world’s foremost celebrations of Jazz Appreciation Month.  Her vision, leadership, and advocacy deeply impress me.

-You are passionate about music and leadership.  You have given a lot of lectures on this topic “Leadership Lessons from the Jazz Masters.”  How does jazz provide leaders with inspiration?

JEH: In my talks, I speak about eight core lessons today’s leaders can learn from jazz masters such as Louis Armstrong and Herbie Hancock.  Listen closely.  Find your own sound.  Master the moment.  Remain fresh—innovate.  Jam.  Collaborate creatively.  Find and nurture great talent.  And affirm diversity.

In your opinion what is the best example of leadership in jazz?

JEH: Duke Ellington.  A brilliant composer and bandleader, he led the greatest jazz orchestra in history.  He treated each musician as if he or she were very special—a jewel—important to the whole team, and the results were spectacular.  He inspired them to perform at, or beyond, their best, and engendered great loyalty and longevity from his players.

Imagine what a different world we’d have if all our leaders recognized what Ellington knew: that each one of us has been given different gifts.  And that we all need to find a way to highlight each person’s gifts, downplay their weaknesses, enhance their strengths, and bring out their very best.  That’s a powerful leadership lesson from jazz master Duke Ellington.

I consider Ellington the greatest all-around American musician: composer, bandleader-conductor, arranger-orchestrator, soloist, and accompanist.  Nobody did all those things so brilliantly as Ellington.  His recordings and compositions will resound through the centuries and, I believe, the millennia.

-Recently, you were awarded by the “Legend of Jazz Education”! Can you tell us more about your educational work?

JEH: You could say that education is practically in my DNA: both my parents were teachers, and I believe strong in educating the next generation as well as curious adults.  To that end, I have curated Smithsonian exhibitions on Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Ray Charles. I’ve co-authored a leading textbook for college students, Discover Jazz. I’ve contributed to educational offerings on the Smithsonian’s website

And I consider each lecture an opportunity to educate.

-What are your current projects?

JEH: I just spent a week at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, presenting 13 lectures on jazz.  I love sharing my knowledge and passion with interested audiences. I also write on jazz for The Wall Street Journal and am exploring ideas for my next book.

-The last JAM at the Smithsonian was dedicated to Women in Jazz; following that idea, this year’s JAM in Montenegro is inspired the women as well.  Do you think women deserve more space in the jazz world?  Why does this theme still matter, and why we need to talk about it?

There is no question that women need more space and recognition in jazz. It’s a male-dominated field from top to bottom: musicians, composers, record producers, concert producers, booking agents, critics, and even audiences. But the talent that women musicians have displayed and shared with the public is staggering. And they’ve had a very uphill struggle to achieve all that they have achieved. I’d like to see a lot more young women get involved in the music, and as they progress in their careers, they will serve as role models and naturally inspire the next generation of young women to consider jazz as a profession.

Where can our readers go for more information?

JEH: Four websites:


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JAM 2018 – Women in Jazz


This year’s month-long honoring of Jazz in April – Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) 2018 – puts a focus on the creativity of women in jazz. By such a programming orientation, we want to highlight the female in jazz in the roles of composers, ensemble leaders, singers or instrumentalists. “Women in Jazz” is not only a topic, but also a selection of musical programs that we can offer the audience as a way of meeting artists as they present their specific projects, original creations and performing charisma.  All segments of the JAM 2018 program – concerts, films, lectures and workshops – involve real jazz musicians.  In the concert program, some of the selected artists will be performing for the first time in Montenegro!

Nataša Mirković Vienna, AT 2017

Nataša Mirković Vienna, AT 2017

At the beginning, the versatile Bosnian-Herzegovinian singer Nataša Mirković will perform an unusual program entitled En El Amor: Sephardic Songs of Southeast Europe, accompanied by Michel Godard, a French jazz musician playing on an instrument called the “serpent” (the forerunner of the tuba), along with the American drummer Jarrod Cagwin. This project received the “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik” awarded by German critics in collaboration with other European music journalists and critics. The towering talent of Nataša Mirković, supported by the skill of her distinguished colleagues, will be on display for audiences in Podgorica on April 3 (at KIC “Budo Tomovic”) and on April 4 in Tivat (Naval Heritage Collection Porto Montenegro).


This year from Germany comes Julia Hülsmann, a renowned pianist and composer, who for fifteen years has been reshaping the contemporary German jazz scene.  She will be creating her unique sound along with her two colleagues Marc Muellbauer, bassist, and Heinrich Köbberling, drummer. Her trio’s wide range of musical expression and sophisticated style was recognized by the respected ECM Records label, for whom Hülsmann has recorded six albums. The Podgorica audience will have the opportunity to hear music from her new album, Sooner And Later, on April 11 at KIC “Budo Tomovic”.

Flow Vertical poster pr

Multidisciplinary artist Jasna Jovićević comes from Serbia. She is an excellent saxophonist, composer, music animator, and pedagogue, known to musicians as a special and versatile musical personality who is always looking for new expressions. On her Montenegrin tour (Tivat, Bar and Podgorica on April 18, 19 and 20 respectively), she will present new music entitled Flow Vertical. She wrote the music for a sextet in which string and wind instruments are combined with percussion into ambient sound. The ensemble consists of: Jasna herself (saxophone, bass clarinet and percussion); Filip Krumes (violin); Rastko Popović (viola); Dejan Božić (cello); Nemanja Mihailović (bassoon); and Uroš Šećerov (percussion). Jasna Jovićević continuously creates new projects that are often related to nature, yoga, improvisation, women in music, and children. Thus, in addition to the concerts, she and her ensemble will also conduct children’s workshops called Mjuziklaža (roughly, “Musycling” as in “Music-Recycling”) on April 20 at the American Corner in Podgorica.  The workshops discuss creative recycling and use of cast-off materials for making and playing of musical instruments.

Hadar Noiberg

In the closing performance of the program, Israeli flutist and composer Hadar Noiberg will appear.  This rising star brings the warm, vibrant sounds of her New-York-based trio (bassist Eduardo Belo and drummer Amir Bar-Akiva), playing a mix of jazz improvisation, Western harmony, and rhythms from the Middle East and North Africa. Her third album, Open Fields, will be released at the end of April, and the concert at the Montenegrin National Theater on April 26 will be a kind of pre-premier for the European promotion of this album.

Turning from jazz performances to jazz films, for this year’s cycle “Jazz on Film” the selection was made by director Nemanja Bečanović.  Audiences will have the opportunity to see two feature films (Nina and Lady Sings the Blues) as well as two documentaries (The Girls in the Band and Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band). All in their own way speak about the position of female jazz musicians who, despite discrimination on many grounds, including race as well as gender, made great contributions. The films will be screened in Podgorica on April 12 and 13 (at DODEST Hall) and in Tivat (every Tuesday of the month in Porto Montenegro’s Sailing Squadron). These exceptional films were obtained for us thanks to the American Corner in Podgorica, our constant partner in the affirmation and promotion of jazz.

All lovers of jazz will be able to attend guest lectures by visiting professors and music writers on interesting topics. Virgil Mihai is jazz critics and writer, professor jazz aesthetics at Cluj University (Cluj), and a teacher; he has appeared at our JAM in previous years, and has written for our magazine.  His lecture on Today’s Role of Women in Jazz will be held at the Vasa Pavić Art School for Music and Ballet on April 5, while his talk on Jazz as Expression of Identity will be presented before students and professors at the Music Academy in Cetinje on April 10.

We proudly announce a special guest this year, the legendary John Edward Hasse, the American music curator emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC – and the man who created Jazz Appreciation Month!  He is also the founder of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.  He is an award-winning writer and lecturer and Grammy Award nominee.  He will offer his lecture on the topic Why We Need the Arts More Than Ever at the Ministry of Culture on April 20.

This year’s JAM has been supported by our numerous partners: KIC “Budo Tomovic” (Budo Tomovic Cultural Information Center), Porto Montenegro, Crnogorska komercijalna banka – CKB (Montenegrin Commercial Bank – CKB), Barski Ljetopis (Summer festival of the city of Bar), the American Corner  in Podgorica, the Academy of Music in Cetinje,  the Vasa Pavic Art School of Music and Ballet, the Hard Rock Café in Podgorica, and the Embassies Germany, Israel and the United States of America.  A program for marking International Jazz Day on April 30 has received the support of the Montenegrin National Commission for UNESCO. Thank you to all!

The detailed program of all events can be found on line at JAM 2018 Events

All JAM events are open to the public and free of charge.
Come, experience Jazz, we are waiting for you!

Maja Popović
Project Manager
Jazz Appreciation Month in Montenegro

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Baptiste Trotignon and Minino Garay in Podgorica


On 21 of June we will celebrate the Worldwide Music Day – Fête de la musique, with great Parisian piano-percussion jazz duo: Baptiste Trotignon and Minino Garay. They will be playing for the first time at the stage of the “Budo Tomovic” Cultural Information Center of Podgorica, Montenegro, thanks to the organizers and supporters: French Institute Montenegro, Cultural Center of Podgorica – KIC “Budo Tomovic”, Jazz Art, and Societe Generale Montenegro.

After a few years of touring and playing all over the world, their album is available, and it’s full of joy! Baptiste Trotignon, one of the finest French pianists, and Argentinean percussionist Minino Garay, will play their music from recent album “Chimichuri”, and celebrate worldwide event – Fete de la musique – Worldwide Music Day.

“Chimichurri: a chili-based condiment from Argentina! The art of the duet is at once so spare and so full. Two musicians being so close to each other on stage soothe my mind and body. It enables direct communication from you to me, a true, simple relationship to sound. This duet with Minino is like a point where two mirror identities meet: on one side, my European genetic heritage, which wanted to dig deep into its tribal truths in search of a form of authentic Corazon that would stray from reason and its turpitudes, also as if to go further than the self in its desire for the unknown. On the other side, the musician who plays at working-class dances in Córdoba and who wanted to cross the Atlantic 20 years ago to fully embrace the sophistication and colors of another form of music, another language to share.

The music on Chimichurri is a journey between North and South, between the sounds of wood and hides, between languid nostalgia and mad frenzy, depending on the melodies lovingly chosen together. The album has something raw about it. There’s no beating around the bush, no artifice. We just wanted to make the music tasty, in perpetual motion, never still, and of course with a bit of a kick!”  –  Baptiste Trotignon

Admission is free of charge. We are looking forward to seeing you at the KIC Budo Tomovic, and celebrate in spirit of Franco-Argentinean musicianship.

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