International Jazz Day

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Message from the Director General

UNESCO is proud to celebrate the 7th International Jazz Day on April 30, 2018. This is a day to honour jazz and its enduring legacy, as well as to recognize the power of this music to bring people together.

Jazz has its roots in the struggle for freedom  and resistance against oppression. This music, with its various styles, has been embraced and integrated into countless cultures, morphing into new forms of expression, infinitely resonating with the diversity of song and sound across the globe. The myriad ways in which jazz was weaved into the fabric of local, national and indigenous cultures attests to its eminence and relevance. It has spoken, and continues to speak, to people from all linguistic, political and economic backgrounds, as it follows its original trajectory of expressing liberty, dignity and human rights.

The message for freedom is rooted at the very core of this music, which is defined by improvisation. The ability for musicians to come together and listen, play and exchange artistry through this free-flowing expression reflects the spirit of freedom movements across the world. As the great jazz artist, Wayne Shorter often says, “It is the same in jazz as it is in life: you cannot rehearse the unknown.” Jazz emphasizes the beauty of living in the moment, having the courage to take risks, not just with yourself, but also together with others, to explore the undefined, often murky waters of what is possible or even unimagined by the individual and the collective.

Today, International Jazz Day will be celebrated in over 190 countries. Musicians, event organizers, teachers, students and jazz fans will be mobilized all over the world with events spanning from small concerts to multi-day performances. Activities will emanate from schools, museums, community centers, universities, cafes and jazz clubs.

This year, the city of Saint Petersburg will serve as the Global Host City. The city gave rise to Russian jazz in the early 1920s, with academia and the establishment fully embracing the music from the very beginning, leading to the establishment of the country's first jazz Philharmonic Hall.

In Saint Petersburg, there will be workshops, master classes, film screenings, performances and concerts with Russian students from all over the country. The All-Star Global Concert will bring together artists from across the country, the region and the world, creating a unique blend of music that will certainly make for a memorable event with legends such as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, and the Russian jazz artist Igor Butman.

UNESCO is delighted to collaborate with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the city of Saint Petersburg, and the Igor Butman Foundation for this year’s Global Host celebration of International Jazz Day.

It is my hope that you can join us, and that together, we can celebrate this important day, which can bring us one note closer together.

Audrey Azoulay, Director General
Message on International Jazz Day 2018