New U.S. jazz stamp

Tribute to America's gift to the world

Although email, Facebook and Twitter are increasingly popular methods of 21st-century communication, the good news for those who still like sending and receiving “snail-mail” is that a new jazz stamp will be released on March 22, 2011.

California artist Paul Rogers took his inspiration from cover art of vintage jazz record albums. He created the art using ink on paper, then finished it digitally. The stamp features stylized letters of the word “Jazz” in white, set amid abstract figures in orange, black, grey, tan and white who are playing piano, saxophone, trumpet and upright bass.

USPS art director Howard Paine said the stamp pays tribute to jazz, America's musical gift to the world, and to the musicians who play it in studios, clubs or concert halls, and on festival stages.

The first jazz-themed U.S. stamp series was in 1994, honoring eight jazz and blues artists (Billie Holiday, Jimmy Rushing, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Mildred Bailey, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson; 29 cents). Also issued that year were separate stamps honoring pop stars Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Ethel Waters and Ethel Merman, and one soon after for Dinah Washington.

Next, the 1995 Legends of Jazz series (32 cents) was issued with a 12-track CD produced by Warner Bros. It featured contemporary musicians playing the compositions of those honored: Louis Armstrong, Eubie Blake, John Coltrane, Erroll Garner, Coleman Hawkins, James P. Johnson, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Jelly Roll Morton and Charlie Parker. That series was followed in 2008 by a Latin jazz stamp.

In 2002, France issued a group of jazz stamps and a folder containing a 12-track jazz CD of jazz musicians, most of them American but valued globally - - Ella Fitzgerald, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Stephane Grappelli (French) and Michel Petrucciani (French).

This new U.S. issue is a “Forever” stamp that remains usable even if the price of postage increases. How perfect, since many devotees of jazz believe it is “forever music”!

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