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12th annual International Jazz Day, 2023

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By Mercy Kelani

IJD eradicates discrimination and promotes peace and dialogue.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 36th session of the General Conference in November, 2011, adopted the resolution UNESCO 36 C/Resolution 39. This resolution was followed by a declaration of April 30 as International Jazz Day. On April 30, 2012, there was an observation of the first ever International Jazz Day (IJD). In December, 2012, UNESCO’s General Conference decision to declare April 30 as Jazz Day was officially accepted by the United Nations General Assembly.

Jazz’s history is immersed in the quest for human dignity, civil rights and democracy. It has encouraged the combat against discrimination and racism. UNESCO is aware of the power of Jazz as a driver of peace, dialogue and mutual understanding — this is the reason for its proclamation of International Jazz Day. To commemorate this day, awareness is raised on the qualities of Jazz as an educational tool and a driver of empathy, dialogue and improved cooperation among people.

Genre encourages artistic innovation and improvisation.

Creation of sensitization is mostly done by governments, educational institutions, civil society organizations, and private citizens currently involved in promoting jazz music. They embrace this opportunity created by the commemoration to enhance more appreciation for music and its contribution towards building more inclusive societies. Jazz reduces barriers and ensures creation of opportunities to aid mutual understanding and tolerance. This music is also considered as a vector of freedom of expression. It is known to lessen tensions between individuals, groups and communities.

It has also been proven that jazz gives room for improvisation, inclusion of traditional music forms into recent ones, artistic innovation, and new forms of expression. Stimulation of intercultural dialogue is also fostered by jazz as young people from marginalized societies are empowered by it. Having had outstanding successes over the past decade, International Jazz Day is close to becoming the largest annual celebration of Jazz across the world. Annually, it engaged people in every continent through performances, educational programs and community outreach.

The music promotes dialogue among cultures & freedom of expression.

Recognition of this day brings together communities, artists, academics, schools, historians and jazz enthusiasts across the world to celebrate and get educated on the art of jazz, its background, its future and its impacts. Celebration of Jazz music is mostly recognized for its promotion of peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity and regard for human rights and human dignity, freedom of expression, enhancement of gender equality, while eradicating discrimination and reinforcing youths’ roles to enhance social change.

International Jazz Day, 2023, involves an outstanding range of programming in over 190 countries. Concerts and performance-based initiatives will be displayed with diverse social outreach and educational activities. Some of the most accomplished jazz artists across the world get their performances featured at the celebration. Performances for the 2023 All-Star Global Concert will feature simultaneously in 12 cities; Beijing, Casablanca, Marondera, Rio De Janeiro, Fairbanks, San Francisco, Beirut, Johannesburg, Paris, Vienna, New York and Washington DC.

Herbie Hancock & UNESCO Director-general lead the celebration.

Annually, International Jazz Day is led by Director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and great jazz pianist and composer, Herbie Hancock, also recognized as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. The International Jazz Day 2022 included an All-Star Global Concert, organized at the United Nations General Assembly hall, with performances from Herbie Hancock, Shemekia Copeland, Mark Whitfield, Gregory Porter, Marcus Miller, Hiromi, David Sanborn, Ravi Coltrane, Brian Blade and others.

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