On April 30, the 11th annual International Jazz Day saw celebrations in the form of live musical eruptions in more than 180 nations.
The main highlight of the annual commemoration is an All-Star Global Concert. This year, woven together in an event livestreamed via the internet, the anchoring venue was the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. Among the many towering figures who lent their talents to the day were, in no particular order: Shamekia Copeland, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Linda May Han Oh, Pedrito Martinez, Jeremy Pelt, Lizz Wright, Ravi Coltrane, Terri Lyne Carrington, Leonard Brown, Zakir Hussain, Randy Brecker, Mark Whitfield, James Genus, Brian Blade, and many more.
Also performing were musical director, John Beasley, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, the driving force behind the creation of International Jazz Day.
Each year, International Jazz Day throws a bright global spotlight on how people from all across the ideological and cultural spectrums, and from multiple generations, can unite in the service of art, love, peace, and friendship for all. And the immediate relevance of this year’s commemoration could be seen in the recognition of numerous global crises—including the conflicts in Ukraine and other world locations, as well as the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic—and the artists’ determination that music be a powerful tool for healing and positive change.
Mr. Hancock, co-president of ICAP, who spoke of how the music of jazz “shows up when we need it the most to ease our burdens and boost our spirits, also shared the following in his heartfelt opening remarks at the UN:
“With conflict and division in many parts of the world, it is my hope that, through the universal language of jazz, our celebration this year can inspire people of all nations to heal, to hope and to work together to foster peace.”
And in her welcoming official statement, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said:
“Jazz carries a universal message with the power to strengthen dialogue, our understanding of each other, and our mutual respect. As the world is affected by multiple crises and conflicts, this international day highlights how much music and culture can contribute to peace.”
The lead-up to this year’s All-Star Global Concert, encompassed a series of free, online education programs, which were presented via jazzday.com, unesco.org, and the official International Jazz Day YouTube and Facebook pages. World-renowned jazz artists including multiple Grammy Award winners Arturo O’Farrill and Terri Lyne Carrington, Oran Etkin, Danny Grissett, Dan Tepfer, and others lead master classes and presentations. A complete listing of education programs can be found at jazzday.com/education.
Among many other surrounding events and activities were the following:
Prior to the global concert, UNESCO celebrated the musical talent of women from across Africa with a concert series put on by JazzWomenAfrica, an organization that helps counter the under-representation and insufficient recognition of women in the music industry.
There were several concerts and performance-based initiatives accompanied by diverse social outreach and educational activities, including offerings in Central Africa, the Republic of Korea, and a “National Jazz Week” in Chile.
And there was a celebration in Newark, New Jersey, that included the renaming of a street in honor of legendary jazz musician, composer, Newark native, and ICAP co-president, Wayne Shorter.
According to the Jazz Day website, the annual event was “established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 at the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, and recognized by the United Nations General Assembly.” It “brings together countries and communities worldwide every April 30 to celebrate jazz and highlight the music’s important role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination, and promoting human dignity. [It] 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.”
You can watch the complete 2022 International Jazz Day concert on YouTube by clicking here.
(Many thanks to International Jazz Day for use of these photos; UN venue photos by Steve Mundinger for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.)