Want some Alexander Calder with your jazz?

It might not be an acoustically perfect way to enjoy music, but it’s hard to top the aesthetics of “Jazz in the Garden.” Now in its 12th season, this Friday-evening series presents local acts playing just about everything — Dixieland, blues, Afro-Cuban and fusion — surrounded by the glorious works in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden.

Garden of Eatin’ Picnics are a must. If you don’t feel like carrying your grub down to the Mall, the NGA’s Pavilion Café will hook you up (just be prepared to open that wallet wide).

Good to Know The stage is on the north side of the fountain. If you want to absorb the music completely, sit close. If you just want a soundtrack for people-watching, grab a spot on the fountain’s edge and pop your toes in the pool.

Don’t Miss Afro Bop Alliance, a Latin Grammy-winning group from Annapolis, Md., takes rhythms from the Caribbean and Latin America and mixes them with jazz improv. It’s the perfect music for sweltering outdoor dance parties. (July 6)

Fake It Not sure you “get” jazz but don’t want to feel like a weed among the finger-snapping flowers? Here’s a simple tip for fitting in: Clap after a solo, even if the solo is nondescript. This technique means you’ll miss the first bars of the next solo, but you should clap dutifully after that one, too.

National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW; through Aug. 31, 5-8:30 p.m., free; 202-737-4215. (Archives)