The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra is the orchestra-in-residence at the National Museum of American History, charged with a mission of presenting and perpetuating the legacy of jazz. In recognition of the importance of jazz in American culture, Congress appropriated the money to found the orchestra in 1990. Concerts feature transcribed classics, new arrangements, and commissioned works. Past concerts have included the music of Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Strayhorn, Benny Carter and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
The orchestra also offers master classes, workshops, and other educational programs to support up-and-coming musicians, singers, composers and band leaders.