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Paris, New Orleans and the UN General Assembly to celebrate International Jazz Day with UNESCO

Media Contact:
Holly Wallace, Administrative Director
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz
Loyola University New Orleans

Paris, New Orleans and the UN General Assembly to celebrate International Jazz Day with UNESCO
Musicians and fans from all five continents will celebrate the first-ever International Jazz Day on April 30.  Unesco proclaimed the Day during its General Conference late last year, to recognize jazz as a universal language of freedom and creativity.

Festivities start at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 27 April with a series of master classes, round tables, improvisational classes, and various other jazz -related activities.  That evening UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock will headline a concert with Tania Maria, Gerald Clayton, Manu Katche, Michel El Malem, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hugh Masekela, Barbara Hendricks, Lionel Loueke and others. . 

On April 30th the focus switches to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, where a special concert will take place in Congo Square just after sunrise.  It will feature Hancock, Diane Reeves, Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis and Luther Gray.   

That same evening, another concert will be held at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, hosted by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and featuring Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Romero Lubamo, Terence Blanchard, Esperanza Spalding, Christian McBride and other artists. This concert will be streamed live worldwide and transmitted by UN Radio at a later date.

For Herbie Hancock, "jazz continues to be a beacon of hope and strength for millions. People around the world have long proclaimed their fundamental right to freedom through the music. International Jazz Day will educate the minds, uplift the spirits, and enhance the creativity of young people in our small villages and bustling cities. Years ago I spoke about the future of jazz musicians connecting globally through the internet and social media-it was a dream on the horizon-and I am thrilled that International Jazz Day will make this a reality.  Our endeavors will help perpetuate the music and guarantee this rich cultural heritage remains a benchmark for others to follow".

For UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, "the designation of International Jazz Day is intended to bring together communities, schools and other groups the world over to celebrate and learn more about the art of jazz, its roots and its impact and to highlight its important role as a means of communication that transcends differences"

Jazz originated in the southern United States but has its roots in Africa. In the 20th century, it spread around the world, evolving, adapting and fusing with diverse indigenous and local musical traditions. Jazz was also the language of resistance for many societies facing totalitarianism. In many countries, jazz became the symbol of freedom for the dissidents.

Today, jazz has become an international art form; defying definition, it speaks many languages and has become a unifying force for its adherents regardless of race, religion, ethnic or national origin.

International Jazz Day aims to promote intercultural dialogue towards eradication of racial tensions, foster gender equality and reinforce the role of youth for social change.


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