On April 30 the United Nations kicked off its celebrations for the second International Jazz Day with a concert in Istanbul. The concert entailed performances and educational programs across the world which highlighted the musical genre’s role as a tool for peace, dialogue and cooperation.
In her message Irina Bokova the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said, ‘No musical art form is more powerful as a diplomatic tool than jazz.’ She added that. “For over a century jazz—the universal language of passion and benevolence—has united people of disparate cultures, religions, and nationalities, fostered and strengthened communication and partnerships among heterogeneous groups.”
Jazz which originated in the United States city of New Orleans at the start of the 20th century is deeply rooted in African traditions and draws from European musical forms. It has evolved into various styles across the globe. The events of International Jazz Day which are organized by UNESCO and the Thelonius Monk Institute seeks to highlight the historic influence the genre has had in connecting people and fueling social change. This year’s celebration concert was held in Turkey, which has had an age old tradition of Jazz. The country’s first ambassador to Washington, Munir Ertegun in the 1930’s opened his embassy’s parlors to African American jazz musicians who gathered there to play freely in a socio-historical context.
International Jazz Day is observed every year on April 30. This year marks the start of the International Decade for People of African Descent. UNESCO indicated that the African continent would be honored, as jazz draws its origin from that region of the world.