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International Jazz Day Brings A Worldwide A-List To Turkey

Istanbul hosts high-profile event in its second year

James Genus, Branford Marsalis, Imer Demirer and John McLaughlin, International Jazz Day, Istanbul, 2013

There is, it seems, one thing that the nations of the world can agree upon: jazz. When the second annual International Jazz Day took place on April 30, nearly all of the 195 member states of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)-from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe-held events to rejoice in the music that, according to a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “speaks for life.”

The son of Dr. King, Martin Luther King III, referenced that speech in his own at this year’s flagship International Jazz Day event, an all-star concert and goodwill celebration staged at the Hagia Irene, the first church erected in what is today Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey. Begun in the fourth century, Hagia Irene is a cavernous, breathtakingly imposing structure that is often utilized for live music presentations. As a setting for promoting and presenting contemporary jazz, it proved a brilliant-if at times sonically lacking-choice.

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