‘The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure’ is coming to museums across the country

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

“The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” allowed Joe Gardner – the musician, mentor, and teacher from Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” – to take Epcot guests on a tour through the rich and surprising history of jazz, but starting Oct. 26, 2021, the exhibit is traveling to jazz museums in New Orleans, Kansas City, and New York.

The Soul of Jazz
Photos courtesy of Disney

First introduced in February as an exclusive experience at The American Adventure inside Epcot at Walt Disney World, the exhibit was created as a tribute to the unique musical art form originated by African Americans who fused influences from many different cultures to create the genre we know today.

Starting Oct. 26, 2021, the exhibit will travel beyond the parks and into museums in three cities where the history of jazz is particularly notable: The New Orleans Jazz Museum in New Orleans, the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

The Soul of Jazz - Maquettes

Walt Disney Imagineering partnered with each of the local museums to recreate the Epcot exhibit while also illustrating the specific contributions each region made to jazz’s dynamic history and evolving culture through a unique collection of artifacts. Visitors will also find maquettes of the “Soul” characters Joe Gardner and Dorothea Williams, be invited to snap a photo with Joe and the band, and even test their knowledge of jazz by using the Play Disney Parks mobile app.

Exhibit display New Orleans

Naturally, the first destination for the exhibit is the region commonly considered to be the “birthplace of jazz” – New Orleans – where it will open at the New Orleans Jazz Museum on Oct. 26, 2021. Next, the exhibit will travel to the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, where it will open on Dec. 10, 2021, to showcase that region’s lasting influence on the genre. Finally, in Feb. 2022, “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” will open at the National Jazz Museum in New York City, home to the “Harlem Renaissance,” where celebrated jazz icons like Duke Ellington performed.

Musician and co-composer of Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” Jon Batiste, hopes this exhibit makes people want to sing, dance, and feel the transcendence that jazz evokes. Just like the joy and deeply-rooted nostalgia Walt Disney created in his theme parks, Batiste notes that “jazz really has the ability to do that and add to that vision in a way that’s tremendous.”

“The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” at EPCOT | Walt Disney World

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