"One of the greatest cultural expressions of the 20th century, jazz is already capturing the spirit of the 21st. In times of change and uncertainty, we need the power of jazz more than ever before to bring people together and to strengthen respect for shared values."
Irina Bokova, Director General
Message on the occasion of the International Jazz Day
Why International Jazz Day?
- Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance;
- Jazz is a vector of freedom of expression;
- Jazz is a symbol of unity and peace;
- Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities;
- Jazz fosters gender equality;
- Jazz reinforces the role youth play for social change;
- Jazz encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones;
- Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies.
In November 2011, the UNESCO General Conference proclaimed 30 April as "International Jazz Day". The Day is intended to raise awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people. Many governments, civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private citizens currently engaged in the promotion of jazz music will embrace the opportunity to foster greater appreciation not only for the music but also for the contribution it can make to building more inclusive societies.
This year on International Jazz Day
Istanbul will be the official host city for 2013. Turkey has an age-old tradition of jazz. Munir Ertegun, Turkish Republic’s first ambassador to Washington in the 1930s, opened his embassy’s parlors to African American jazz musicians, who gathered there to play freely in a socio-historical context which was deeply divided by racial segregation at the time. Inspired by this legacy, the ambassador’s sons, Ahmet and Nesuhi, went on to establish the United States’ first jazz and gospel label in 1947 - Atlantic Records - which was seminal in spreading the beauty of jazz music around the world.
Spurred by the success of the first celebration, UNESCO, in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (TMIJ) will be organizing the second International Jazz Day on April 30th, 2013. This day is destined to raise awareness in the international community regarding jazz’s virtues as an educational tool, as a vehicle for peace, unity, dialogue, and for enhanced cooperation between peoples.
The year 2013 marks the beginning of the International Decade for People of African Descent, consecrated to the theme, “Recognition, justice and development for people of African heritage.” This constitutes yet another highlight of the event that the United Nations will surely support. Africa, whence jazz draws its origins, will thus be doubly honoured this year.