On April 30, the world celebrated International Jazz Day, the twelfth time this annual global
event has honored the legacy and impact of jazz – the iconic American art form – on culture, education, and international cooperation. This year’s celebrations were hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and featured a range of events and performances that highlighted the worldwide diversity and richness of jazz.
The centerpiece of the annual event has been an all-star concert presented at venues from around the globe. This year featured spectacular performances from locations including, among others, Beijing, Beirut, Johannesburg, New York, Rio de Janeiro, and Vienna.
The yearly celebration aims to promote the role of jazz to generate dialogue and mutual
understanding across geographical, cultural, and socio-political borders.
The day began with a press conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where Director-
General Audrey Azoulay and Herbie Hancock, the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for
Intercultural Dialogue, spoke about the importance of jazz:
“Jazz is a universal language that speaks to the human experience, transcending borders and bringing people together,” said Mr. Hancock, who is also ICAP co-founder. “It’s an honor to be part of this global celebration of jazz, and to see how it continues to inspire and unite people from all walks of life.”
Director-General Azoulay echoed Mr. Hancock’s sentiment, adding that jazz has played a vital role in UNESCO’s efforts to promote peace, dialogue, and respect for diversity.
“Jazz is more than just music – it’s a cultural treasure that embodies the values of UNESCO,” she said. “Through jazz, we can bridge divides, break down stereotypes, and build a more just and peaceful world.”
The All-Star Global Concert (which can be enjoyed on YouTube or by clicking here) showcased international jazz artists including Cyrille Aimée (France), Ambrose Akinmusire (USA), Thana Alexa (Croatia), John Beasley (USA), Dee Dee Bridgewater (USA), Musekiwa Chingodza (Zimbabwe), Emmet Cohen (USA), Kurt Elling (USA), Oran Etkin (Israel), Tom Gansch (Austria), Christian McBride (USA), Sérgio Mendes (Brazil), Marcus Miller (USA), Thandi Ntuli (South Africa), Dianne Reeves (USA), Antonio Sánchez (Mexico), Somi (Rwanda) and many others.
The celebrations continued throughout the day with a series of concerts, workshops, and
educational events that showcased the breadth and depth of jazz, as well vividly demonstrate Mr. Hancock’s declaration that:
“Jazz is not just music, it’s a way of life . . . It teaches us to listen, to collaborate, and to find common ground.”
- Event Poster
- Students from New Zealand’s Kaitaia College participate amid a severe power outage and tropical storm.
- In Kyiv, Ukraine, the Alex Fokin Radio Band celebrated with the premiere of their new jazz hymn, “Jazz Is a Chance,” written specifically for the occasion.
- Jazz resounded on every continent, including from McMurdo Station, Antartica, one of the “coolest” places on earth.