Who We Are
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a thriving center for jazz that stimulates hearts and minds, and reaches out to diverse audiences to enjoy this quintessential American music. The Museum was founded in 1997 by Leonard Garment, Counsel to two U.S. Presidents, and an accomplished jazz saxophonist, Abraham D. Sofaer, a former U.S. District Judge who gave the initial gift in honor of his brother-in-law Richard J. Scheuer, Jr., and matching funds from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.
Our mission is to preserve, promote and present jazz by inspiring knowledge, appreciation and the celebration of jazz locally, nationally and internationally.
The Museum is committed to keeping jazz present and exciting in the lives of a broad range of audiences: young and old, novice and scholar, artist and patron, enthusiast and curious listener. Each year, the Museum produces and presents more than 80 free programs in New York City, engaging hundreds of professional jazz artists and reaching nearly 20,000 people from around the world. The Museum is a hub for live performances, exhibitions and educational programs. It is also home to our widely acclaimed Savory Collection, which includes more than 100 hours of live recordings of jazz legends made from New York City radio broadcasts aired between 1935 and 1941.
In 2013, an exciting new era began for the Museum. We created and implemented a new strategic plan that made education central to our mission. The Museum now offers year-round educational programs for students of all ages. We also developed a new membership program with exclusive content and benefits to reach out to the worldwide jazz community.
In 2015, after 15 years at our East Harlem location, we moved to 58 West 129th Street in Central Harlem. Our new space is designed to give our visitors an immersive jazz experience, in the heart of what has become Harlem’s new cultural and entertainment district.
Our ultimate, long-term goal is to secure a permanent home in Harlem with space large enough to showcase Harlem’s vast contributions to jazz, American music and world history.
Jonathan Batiste, Co-Artistic Director
Jonathan Batiste is a dynamic pianist, composer and bandleader who has been active in the Museum’s programming and growth since 2009. With his wide spectrum of musical interests and involvement, Batiste is expanding the Museum’s horizons and its relevance to contemporary audiences. A Juilliard graduate, he is a member of the legendary Batiste family of musicians from New Orleans. Batiste is also the bandleader for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS.
Christian McBride, Co-Artistic Director
World-renowned bassist and bandleader Christian McBride is a multiple GRAMMY Award-winning artist. Heralded as a teen prodigy at 17, he has collaborated with jazz greats including Ray Brown, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Milt Jackson, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and Bobby Watson. McBride is an international ambassador for the Museum and helps guide our program development. He hosts the award-winning NPR radio program “Jazz Night in America.”
Board of Directors
Timothy L. Porter, Chairman
Jonathan Scheuer, Vice Chairman
Daryl Libow, Secretary
Mark A. Willis, Treasurer
Jasna Radonjic, Managing Director
Loren Schoenberg, Founding Director & Senior Scholar
Ryan Maloney, Director of Education and Programming
Camille Thornhill, Membership Coordinator
Bree Evans, Research and Operations Associate
Christopher Knox, Public Programs and Visitor Services Assistant