April is National Jazz Appreciation Month and a pair of events at the Ben May Main Library (701 Government St.) will help area fans get the month off to a good start.

On Friday, April 1, 6:30 p.m., the Mobile Big Band Society will kick off The Jazz Studio in Bernheim Hall. The program is touted as a musical tribute to James Reese Europe, an early jazz pioneer who was born in Mobile and is credited with bringing early jazz components to Europe.

A composer, arranger and bandleader in the U.S. during the 1910s, Europe’s work with the dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle begat a number of popular dance crazes, most famously the Foxtrot. When he was called to duty in World War I, he became an officer in the 369th Infantry Regiment and was one of the first African-American officers to receive battlefield commendations. While directing the regimental band he implemented the syncopated rhythms employed in his previous musical work stateside.

The program at Bernheim will feature renowned clarinetist and educator Michael White and introduces the Young Mobilians Jazz Ensemble. The event will serve as a fundraiser for the upcoming youth group that will hold auditions in May and start classes in June.

Requested donations (tickets) are $30. They can purchased at the door with cash or check or on eventbrite.com.

For more information, call 251-545-4244 or call the library at 251-208-7097, or email thejazzstudiomobile@gmail.com.

The following week, the Mobile Public Library, in conjunction with the Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed, will salute another Alabama native with the presentation “Alabama’s Own Nat King Cole: A Musical Genius.” It takes place Thursday, April 7, 6:30 p.m., at Bernheim Hall.

A noted musician and mellifluous vocalist, Cole reached the very heights of American musical royalty and became the first African-American to host his own television show at a time when significant portions of the nation still suffered under Jim Crow laws.

The presentation features Daphne Simpkins, a member of the Alabama Humanities Foundation’s Roads Scholars speakers bureau. Simpkins has written about Southern life for the last 20 years and is the author of several books. She also teaches at Auburn University-Montgomery.

The event is free. A reception follows the presentation.

AHF is a nonprofit organization funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, of which AHF is the state affiliate, as well as by corporate and individual donors. For more information on AHF and its programs, visit alabamahumanities.org or call 205-558-3980.

Good news for Artwalk vendors
Word from Mobile Arts Council is that beginning in April, Mobile Arts Council Artist Members will no longer be charged the monthly fee to set up as outdoor vendors during LoDa Artwalk on the second Friday of each month. Those MAC members with approved ArtWalk applications and proper licenses are now exempt from the monthly tab. Nonmembers will still pay $10 per month.

MAC members who have already paid for upcoming ArtWalks will be reimbursed. Anyone who would like to become a MAC member can find applications on the website at mobilearts.org.

Chamber Music Society hosts pianist in season closer
The final show of Mobile Chamber Music Society’s 2015-2016 season is a solo artist who brings heavyweight accolades to the Azalea City — that is, if reviews from papers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., count for anything.

New Yorker Joel Fan has performed more than 40 different concertos with orchestras on four continents, including the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Odessa Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony and London Sinfonietta. These include shows in China, Cuba and South America and earned him a spot in the Silk Road Ensemble alongside Yo-Yo Ma.

According to The Boston Musical Intelligencer, “We’ve heard many of the great pianists … Fan belongs in the company of the best.” In a similar vein, The New York Times said Fan has “a steely power and feather-light touch.”

The concert takes place Sunday, April 3, 3 p.m., in the Recital Hall of the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center on the University of South Alabama. The program includes Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasie in A flat Major, Op. 61; Brahms’ Sechs Klavierstucke, Op.118; Alberto Ginastera’s Sonata No. 1, Op. 22; and Liszt’s Sonata in b minor.

For ticket information, go to mobilechambermusic.org or call 251-476-8794.

Exploreum summer camps gearing up
If you’re lucky enough to have a youngster with insatiable curiosity and free time coming up at the school year’s end, you’re in luck. The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center has a summer camp with activities ready for a range of ages.

The youngest accepted are kids aged 4-5. It features classes such as Storybook Science, Colorful Chemistry, The World Around Us, Inventions and Thingamabobs and others.

Kids aged 6-7 can choose from camp classes on Space Junk, Mad Scientists, Body Fuel, Outside My Window and far more.

Campers aged 8-11 can indulge in Reach for the Stars, Bio 101, Operation Chemistry, Junior Flight Academy and others.  

The oldest group is those aged 12-14 and includes Printing Off the Page (employing 3-D printers), Airbus Flight Camp, a course on problem-solving engineering called Innovations, a class on video called Take 2 and more.
Summer camps begin in late May.

Cost is $175 per student, $140 for members. The Airbus Flight Camp costs $370, or $295 for members.

For more information on the full range of classes visit exploreum.com/camps. You can also find registration forms and meal plan calendars there.

For registration questions, call Haley at 251-208-6818.