Niels Lan Doky, Denmark
1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
To me, jazz is the ultimate reflection of life itself.
And life itself is the ultimate jazz improvisation.
I apply the concepts, techniques and philosophies of jazz improvisation in my life in general and I view the entire world as a gigantic stage and life in general as one gigantic improvised jazz concert with the world’s entire population as the performers.
I am giving lectures on a regular basis at various corporations and organizations about how to apply jazz improvisation principles outside of the music context, at the work place as well as in your personal life. I see an increasing interest from people outside of the jazz world or even the music world, to understand how jazz artists can be creative on command, and how a jazz performance can be such a perfect illustration of democracy in action.
Denmark has a long history of having embraced jazz:
Since the late 1950s, a record number of US expat jazz legends settled in Copenhagen (Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Drew, Ed Thigpen, Oscar Pettiford etc) and it transformed both them and their music as well as the local community, prompting a lush local jazz scene that only keeps on growing and being refined. The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is today arguably the largest in the world with over 1,000 concerts in 10 consecutive days each Summer. And there are many jazz venues in Copenhagen and all over the country. The number of local high-level musicians today is staggering and according to a study done by Polygram in the late 90s, Denmark reached the world’s largest average-per-capita consumption of jazz records. Overall I think it is safe to say that jazz plays an important role in the Danish community.
2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
We feel that it is major turning point and milestone that UNESCO has decided to officially establish jazz as an international art form and musical language. We very much agree that jazz has been and continues to be a unique contribution to the world and that it has a rare ability to transcend all borders and cultural differences.
These are very important values for mankind and Denmark definitely wants to be involved in supporting this effort. We have the deepest respect and gratitude towards UNESCO, the Thelonious Monk Institute and Herbie Hancock for taking this initiative and for bringing it to realization.
3) What do you hope for in celebrating this Day?
I hope that we will contribute to bring jazz – the music itself as well as its spiritual, intellectual and philosophical values – to a broader audience and to a more prominent position in the collective consciousness.