The first annual International Jazz Day (Apr. 30) will be celebrated with concert events in New Orleans, Paris and New York City. In a press release, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Herbie Hancock, who was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador last year, stated that International Jazz Day, in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, will begin in advance of the actual date, on Apr. 27, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris with a daylong series of jazz education programs and performances. An evening concert there will feature Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marcus Miller, Hugh Masekela, Lionel Loueke, Tania Maria, Barbara Hendricks, Gerald Clayton, Terri Lyne Carrington, John Beasley, China Moses, Ben Williams and Antonio Hart, plus others to be announced. The daytime events will include master classes, roundtable discussions, improvisational workshops, and various other activities.
On the 30th itself, the focus will shift to New Orleans, with a sunrise concert in Congo Square, featuring Hancock, Dianne Reeves, New Orleans natives Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Treme Brass Band, Dr. Michael White, Kermit Ruffins, Bill Summers, and others.
The day’s events will conclude in New York City at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with a concert event that so far includes Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Danilo Perez, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Jack DeJohnette, Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Zakir Hussain (India), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Hiromi Uehara (Japan) and others to be announced. George Duke will serve as musical director and co-hosts will include Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.
The concert from the United Nations will be streamed live worldwide via the United Nations and UNESCO websites, and will also be post-broadcast on United Nations Radio.
According to the press release, the objectives of International Jazz Day are to:
• Encourage exchange and understanding between cultures and employ these means to enhance tolerance;
• Offer effective tools at international, regional, sub-regional and national levels to foster intercultural dialogue;
• Raise public awareness about the role jazz music plays to help spread the universal values of UNESCO’s mandate;
• Promote intercultural dialogue towards the eradication of racial tensions and gender inequality and to reinforce the role of youth for social change;
• Recognize jazz music as a universal language of freedom;
• Promote social progress with a special focus on developing countries utilizing new technologies and communications tools such as social networks;
• Contribute to UNESCO’s initiatives to promote mutual understanding among cultures, with a focus on education of young people in marginalized communities.
In addition, according to the release, “The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz will work with UNESCO and its 195 various field offices, national commissions, UNESCO networks, UNESCO Associated Schools, universities and institutes, public radio and public television, as well as NGOs. Additionally, libraries, schools, performing arts centers, artists and arts organizations of all disciplines throughout the world will be encouraged to celebrate the day through presentations, concerts, and other jazz-focused activities. UNESCO will be sending recommendations for events, programs and support materials to its member countries and efforts are underway to raise funds for activities in developing countries where resources are limited. For example, in Brazil the Ministry of Culture will organize a nationwide program celebrating the history of jazz and its contribution to peace in all of its cultural centers; it is hoped that this will eventually be integrated into Brazil’s national educational curriculum. In Algeria, free jazz concerts will take place featuring groups from all over the country as well as conferences promoting “intercultural exchanges between jazz music and Maghreb music”; Russia will host various activities including concerts, photo exhibitions, lectures, virtual magazines and radio programs, while in Belgium the Conservatory of Jazz and Pop will organize outdoor daytime flash mobs/ concerts with Jazz students in bookstores, the Academy of Fine Arts and more. These are just some of the many local events that will be taking place around the world.”
For more information about International Jazz Day, visit the website at