Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion International Jazz Day, 30 April 2019

24 April 2019

For this eighth International Jazz Day, let us recall the inspiring words of the great Dr Martin Luther King Jr, speaking of the crucial role of jazz in creating a sense of identity among African Americans and countless others around the world. “Jazz speaks for life”, he said, at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1964. “When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.”

Jazz is a flourishing of beauty born of oppression – the music of improvisation and collective creation. Freedom and openness lie at its core, allowing it to be embraced by cultures all over the world, enriched by each with their own musical history and particular notes. It gives voice to the struggles and aspirations of millions of people, and stands as an incredible symbol of free expression and human dignity. It is a universal language of peace at a time of increasing discord and division.

With its strong connections to jazz music, Australia is serving as this year’s host of International Jazz Day, with the All-Star Global Concert taking place in Melbourne, and streamed live to millions worldwide.

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and iconic jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, who first advocated an “International Jazz Day” and led to its proclamation in 2011, will perform. He will be joined by a roster of international artists, including acclaimed American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and Australian trumpeter James Morrison. Equally impressive are the extensive educational and outreach programmes taking place all across Australia from Sydney to Perth, giving young people in particular the opportunity to discover jazz and even pick up an instrument themselves.

Thousands of celebrations will also be held all over the world - from performances and jam sessions to jazz-themed films, lectures, and panel discussions. I encourage everyone to take part and experience the rich history and constantly-evolving rhythms and forms of jazz.

UNESCO is proud to collaborate with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz to promote this magnificent medium for dialogue through music. On International Jazz Day, let us be guided by the values and vision of jazz as a unifying force and a voice of hope for so many.

More information here.
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