Jazz musicians onstage
World-famous jazz trumpeter and composer, Wynton Marsalis, and renowned jazz bassist, Christian McBride, perform at the inaugural International Jazz Day Concert at UN Headquarters.
Photo:UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Now more than ever before, let’s band together and spread the ethics of Jazz Day’s global movement around the planet and use this as a golden opportunity for humankind to reconnect especially in the midst of all this isolation and uncertainty.”

Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

Music of improvisation and collective creation

International Jazz Day raises awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people, as well as an educational tool. 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.

Why Jazz?

  • 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”. This International Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about the art of jazz, its roots, its future and its impact. This important international art form is celebrated for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating discrimination, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth for social change.

An Introduction to Jazz

with Herbie Hancock, James Morrison and Hancock Institute Fellows


UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock and internationally renowned trumpeter and bandleader James Morrison lead a master class exploring the history and artistry of jazz music.

2020 #JazzDayAtHome

The first-ever International Jazz Day Virtual Global Concert hosted by jazz legend and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock #JazzDayAtHome.


Grammy award winning composer Antonio Sánchez defines jazz simply as “freedom”, highlighting its inclusive power to bring “different elements together, transforming it into something greater.”


Jazz is a flourishing of beauty born of oppression – the music of improvisation and collective creation.”

Audrey Azoulay
Director-General, UNESCO

Greetings from the International Space Station #JazzDay 2014

Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospance Agency and Flight Engineer Rick Mastraccio of NASA sent a message of goodwill to all those celebrating International Jazz Day in 2014. Representing the Expedition 39 crew aboard the International Space Station, their message equated science and music. The science aboard the International Space Station, much like music, is all about trying to understand the unseen.

A crowd of women sitting and laughing

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.