International Jazz Day – April 30
International Jazz Day is held on 30 April every year, celebrating the impact of jazz music. International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future, and impact. The day raises awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding and reinforces international cooperation and communication. The day brings people together using the power of jazz and also highlighting this beautiful form of music.
What is Jazz
While jazz is inherently an American art form, it has become somewhat of global music – enjoyed by fans and performed by musicians around the world. Jazz is a form of music that is constantly developing and evolving since it came to be at the turn of the 20th century.
There’s no one agreed-upon birthday for jazz. Some, like Jelly Roll Morton, claimed to have invented the genre in 1902. Others point to the influence of the blues, ragtime, and western art music being fused by African-American and Afro-Caribbean slaves in America’s deep south during the late 19th century. One thing’s for sure though, and that’s that the birthplace of jazz was in New Orleans.
Jazz was initially performed in African American communities in the United States at funerals to celebrate the life of the departed. It mainly included forms of blues and ragtime but then developed into an exciting new genre of its own.
In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role in uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every April 30th to celebrate jazz and highlight the music’s important role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination, and promoting human dignity. The date coincides with the last day of what has been celebrated as Jazz Appreciation Month in the US.
The day was established in 2011 by musician and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock to bring together communities worldwide to celebrate the humanity of the universal art form through workshops, discussions, and an all-star global concert. In its early years, events were celebrated in New York City and Paris, France. Over time, more cities started participating in International Jazz Day (IJD), as April 30 became known as a global celebration of jazz music.
International Jazz Day has become a global movement reaching more than two billion people annually on all seven continents, including Antarctica, through education and community outreach, performances, radio, television, and streaming, along with electronic, print, and social media. The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is UNESCO’s official partner in the organization and promotion of International Jazz Day. Air transportation and support for artists and educators are provided by United Airlines, the airline partner of International Jazz Day.
“UNESCO created International Jazz Day to share the values of a deeply meaningful musical genre,” explained UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Today we need jazz more than ever. We need its values, based on human dignity and the fight against racism and all forms of oppression. It is so much more than music, jazz is the kind of bridge-builder we need in the world today.”
The legendary pianist, who gained acclaim playing with Miles Davis and pioneered jazz fusion and jazz funk, is the reason International Jazz Day exists. As a UNESCO ambassador, Hancock wanted to create a day celebrating jazz’s global power to unite people. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which he chairs, helps organize the annual celebration.
Events On International Jazz Day
The organizers and jazz lovers from around the world recorded hundreds of performances, greetings, and other special Jazz Day tributes as a collective expression of solidarity. There are live concerts, discussions with musicians, and educational talks for children and adults alike.
On this day share some of your favorite tunes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and using #JazzDay.
Suggested Read: World Music Day