Meet Our Organizers

Adele Zamani, Iran

A native of Tehran, Iran, Adele Zamani most recently organized an International Jazz Day event at the renowned Vahdat Hall, one of Iran’s most prestigious performing arts venues. The program featured three bands representing the next generation of Iranian jazz musicians, with performances themed around conveying messages of peace and friendship to the entire international community. Read on to learn why Zamani feels that jazz music, and International Jazz Day, are particularly relevant to the Iranian context.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
To me jazz music is a different attitude toward life, it has impact on the way of viewing my life. Its rhythmic pattern and meter are the real rhythm of life. Through improvisation, I learn how tolerant and nonjudgmental I should be.

In my community, although jazz music is not the most popular form of music, jazz lovers in the young generation are increasing. Basically, because improvisation is one of the most important characteristics of Persian traditional music, jazz music make considerable sense for Iranian audiences.

“Through improvisation, I learn how tolerant and nonjudgmental I should be.”

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
International Jazz Day has become a social event, rather than a music and art event. Many important concepts such as freedom, peace and friendship are behind it, which has made this a very important day and event for us. We, in Iran, in the Middle East, in the heart of war and violence, would like to convey our messages of peace and friendship through every possible way. In this regard, we–the young Iranian generation–welcome international events which provide us the opportunity to say who we really are and what we really want: peace and security.

Regardless of what place jazz music has in our culture and community, joining this wonderful peaceful movement and having a minor role in this extraordinary event is our main motivation.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
It is vital that we make these events an occasion of joining the international movement. Although it is not the first time that this event has been celebrated in Iran, it is important that we hold this event bigger and better and spread it all over our country and this region.

AfricaNola, New Orleans, USA

AfricaNola/CaribNola is a cultural organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana with the mission of strengthening the African and Caribbean diasporas through music and friendship.


With its focus starting in Africa, the organization has expanded to South America, the Caribbean and Asia, connecting the music & culture of New Orleans with the people of the world. Programs have included educational workshops and performance ensembles, intermingling musicians from many countries with students and audiences around the world. The organization recently also established SpiritLand Music to promote and support improvisational music.

Led by New Orleans event curator, composer, musician, educator and advocate Jeff Klein, AfricaNola/CaribNola has presented numerous International Jazz Day events over the years, focused on illuminating the connections between jazz and its African origins. Past programs have included a John Coltrane Festival featuring drummer Jason Marsalis and trumpeter Mario Abney alongside students from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts; and more recently an all-virtual musical celebration as part of the 2020 #JazzDayAtHome campaign. Watch the full program below.
Alegre Correa, Brazil

Alegre Corrêa is a GRAMMY Award-winning guitarist who combines nearly five decades’ worth of acclaimed performances on the world stage with a profound commitment to preserving and advancing the music of his native Brazil–including by waving high the standard of International Jazz Day. Read on to learn about Correa’s life and storied career. 


Completely self-taught, Corrêa began his career in 1973 at the age of 13, playing guitar in local dance bands. The next two decades saw him form a slew of groups with prominent Brazilian musicians, including accordionist Luiz Carlos Borges and saxophonist/flautist Letieres Leite.

Corrêa’s first major recognition came with his win at the 1987 FAMPOP festival in Avaré, Brazil, where he was recognized for his composition “Terça-feira.” A string of successful albums and high-profile performances followed, including his solo debut, “Infância,” in 1993 and multiple collaborations with legendary Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal. 1993 also marked the beginning of a longstanding association with renowned Austrian pianist, composer and bandleader Mathias Rüegg, who supported the production of “Infância” and later invited Corrêa to join his Vienna Art Orchestra. Corrêa would perform with the VAO, one of the most famous groups in European jazz, on their landmark 2000 live recording “All That Strauss.”

Corrêa enjoyed increasing notice through the early 2000’s both as a solo artist and from projects with a range of Brazilian and international musicians. He received Austria’s Hans Koller Preis twice, once in 2002 for Best Album of the Year (for “Mauve”) and again in 2003 as Musician of the Year. In 2003 he and his group appeared at the Vienna Opera with bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto as part of Jazz Fest Wien, and received a special tribute from the state secretary of culture in his native Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

After joining jazz fusion icon Joe Zawinul’s group–the Zawinul Syndicate–in 2005, Corrêa established himself as a major figure on the international jazz scene, recording and traveling with Zawinul for appearances in the United States, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Dubai, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Sweden, South Korea, Austria and Canada, among other locations. In addition to contributing his signature sound on guitar, Corrêa also showcased his skills on percussion and the Afro-Brazilian berimbau. He shared in the Zawinul Syndicate’s 2009 GRAMMY Award win for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for their 2008 effort, “75”–Zawinul’s last before his death.

Corrêa has leveraged his stature as one of the most dynamic and syncretic guitarists working today to promote and support Brazilian music and culture, including young Brazilian artists. Recent years have seen him set up a recording studio dedicated to assisting in the development of Brazilian music and work with rising stars like vocalist Denise Fontoura, composer François Muleka, keyboardist Fagner Wesley and harmonicist Gabriel Grossi, to name a few. In 2014 he dedicated a large part of the year to curating and producing the inaugural Festival Sonora da Ilha in the Brazilian city of Florianópolis and many events at Club 55. His prodigious recorded and performance output has helped to raise the profile of Brazilian cultural heritage the world over.

Corrêa’s contributions to International Jazz Day extend his commitment to making a positive impact through his music. Beginning in 2019, he has helped to spread the message of International Jazz Day by recording videos in his native Portuguese for multiple special Lusophone Jazz Day events worldwide. He also brought Jazz Day to Portuguese speakers around the world with a video about the importance of Jazz Day and its message of global peace. Most recently, Corrêa participated in an incredible virtual rendition of “Café Oran,” led by Senegalese bassist/vocalist Alune Wade and featuring an international host of artists, for the International Jazz Day 2021 All-Star Global Concert.

Today, Corrêa continues to perform and record with his European group, the Alegre Corrêa Sextet, currently comprised of bassist/vocalist Alune Wade (Senegal), saxophonist Gerald Preinfalk (Austria), keyboardist Fagner Wesley (Brazil), drummer Matheus Jardim (Brazil) and harmonicist Bertl Mayer (Austria). He is currently producing and recording a new album alongside renowned fellow Brazilian musicians Michael Pipoquinha (bass), Serginho Machado (drums), Jota P (sax/flute), Gabriel Grossi (harmonica), Eduardo Farias (piano/arranges) and Gabriel Vieira (violin).

Alune Wade, Senegal

Alune Wade is a Paris-based Senegalese bassist, vocalist and composer dedicated to promoting the musical traditions of his native Africa and making a positive impact on the world through his art. Wade has brought his immense creativity and vision to multiple International Jazz Day collaborations, including the 2021 All-Star Global Concert. Read on to learn more about Wade’s background and accomplishments.


Born in 1978 in Dakar, Senegal, Alune Wade grew up surrounded by music. His father was a leader of a local symphonic orchestra, and Wade ultimately developed a natural talent for music at the young age of six.

At just 13, the bass became his chosen instrument. Though his mother objected, wanting her son to further his academic studies rather than become a professional musician, the support and encouragement from his father inspired Wade to perfect his craft and hone an original voice on bass.

After years of rigorous music instruction and performing in local bands all over Dakar, at 17, Wade ultimately gained a prominent spot as a bassist in his father’s orchestra. Just one year later, Wade auditioned and was chosen to perform with the great Senegalese musician Ismael Lo, touring all across the globe.

In 2006, Wade released his debut solo album. MBOLO (which means unity” in Wolof) combines his training in African rhythms with more contemporary and modern jazz influences. Released in 2015, HAVANA-PARIS-DAKAR is a bridge between both his native and chosen homes (Dakar and Paris, respectively), as well as the birthplace of his featured and frequent collaborator, Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa.

Wade’s versatile and deep-rooted touch on bass is slowly establishing him as a key ingredient in bringing new vigor to the African jazz scene. His career reached a significant milestone with his fourth album AFRICAN FAST FOOD. Much like his rich and diverse resume (which includes collaborations with the likes of Marcus Miller, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Archie Shepp and late Joe Zawinul, among others), this album gives listeners a wonderful mélange, bringing Africa and all other continents together through music.

In support of the most recent edition of International Jazz Day in 2021, Wade organized an incredible virtual performance of his original composition “Café Oran” with musicians from around the world, echoing his ongoing pandemic-inspired Homes United Project.

Ania Paz, Peru

Ania Paz is an acclaimed Peruvian pianist and composer whose life and work combines cultural diplomacy, ethnomusicology, the folkloric traditions of Latin America, and pushing the boundaries of jazz using a host of other artistic disciplines. Read on to learn about Paz’s remarkable path, including her longtime association with International Jazz Day.


Award-winning pianist and composer Ania Paz found her passion for music early in life—she began studying music at age 4 and penned her first composition at age 6. This passion led her all over the world, as she pursued her music studies in Germany and the United States and as she established her career as a pianist, composer, educator and researcher.

For Paz, International Jazz Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the universal quality of jazz that aspires to bring cultures together and inspire innovation and creative freedom. Bridging different cultures through art and integrating different artistic disciplines are major themes that connect her professional pursuits. In the early 2000’s, Paz produced the Ania Paz Jazz Series to offer a new way of “feeling” jazz as an art form that embraces all cultures. As part of a commission from the United Nations and the European Union, she produced and directed two multidisciplinary performances in the Dominican Republic that promoted the message of tolerance through art. The performances integrated artists of different musical genres and cultures and incorporated other forms of artistic expression such as dance, poetry, literature, theatre and visual effects. She herself participated with the Ania Paz Jazz Ensemble at two extraordinary concerts exploring the multicultural reach of jazz: Mujeres en el Jazz (Women in Jazz) at the Embassy of Germany in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), and Colores del Jazz (Colors of Jazz) at the Goethe Institute in Mexico.

As an educator, Paz created and directed the first Contemporary Latin Jazz course at FUNGLODE/Global Foundation for Democracy and Development in Santo Domingo and helped expand the curriculum of the Folkloric Department of the Dominican Republic’s National Conservatory of Music. She teaches a variety of music courses at two Peruvian universities and has taught classes and conducted master classes at universities and music schools in Germany, the United States, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Paz received recognition from the University of Missouri-Columbia for her research on the influence of African rhythms on the American continent, and for her presentation of this research at the international convention of the Afro-Latin/American Research Association.

As a performer, Paz is known for her modern, driving sound and for her work fusing Caribbean and Afro-Peruvian styles. She has appeared at prestigious festivals the world over including the TCI San José Jazz Festival (USA), Rencontre autour du Piano (Guadeloupe), Festival Internacional JazzUV (Mexico), Buenos Aires Jazz (Argentina), Festival Internacional de Jazz de Valparaíso (Chile), Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, San Vicente Jazz (Argentina), Jazz en Lima and many others. She has also presented her music in theatre halls, jazz clubs and on television shows throughout Europe, the United States and Latin America. Her latest release, Dos Mondos, was recorded in Peru and the Dominican Republic with the aim of strengthening the cultural ties between these two Latin American nations through the universal language of jazz. The Ania Paz Trio continues to perform with the aim of creating a new sound in contemporary Latin jazz.

A longtime friend of International Jazz Day, Paz has showcased her syncretic, multicultural playing approach in Jazz Day partner events since 2017. In 2020, due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, Paz had to postpone her planned concert and talk at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, but joined the worldwide virtual celebration of International Jazz Day with a stunning performance of her original composition, “NAIV,” with guitarist Pierre Huarniz. “NAIV” premiered on April 30 on the official International Jazz Day channels.

Antonio Lozoya & Teresa Urtusástegui, Mexico

Based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Antonio Lozoya and Teresa Urtusástegui bring the same ambitious mentality behind the annual jazz and blues festival they curate to each edition of International Jazz Day. Read on to learn how these dedicated stewards of jazz are helping raise attention and appreciation for the music in their local community.


Antonio Lozoya and Teresa Urtusástegui are professional musicians, educators, promoters and the organizers of the annual International Festival of Jazz and Blues in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. The festival, which Lozoya describes as “the longest running in the country,” celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018.

International Jazz Day represents a natural extension of the duo’s year-round ambitions for their Festival. The Festival, Lozoya says, aims to show that jazz “is the best example of how to explain to the world that no matter where you come from and what language you speak, [you can] share music with honesty and humility, create a musical conversation instantly with improvisation and develop new experiences.” Lozoya’s dedication to creating these musical conversations in his local community has earned him notice, and the title of “the syncopated warrior of San Miguel de Allende.”

“We have to invest time, love, education and culture in the young generations, because they are the immediate future of our society.”

Since 2014, each year on April 30 the Festival Internacional de Jazz & Blues organizes a special performance featuring a range of Mexican and international artists. Performances take place in the city’s Angela Peralta Theater, a cultural landmark built in 1873 and situated in the heart of downtown San Miguel de Allende. A recent edition introduced the audience in Guanajuato to talented performers from the United States, France and Cuba. This multinational concert each year parallels the exchange taking place in the Global Host City as part of the All-Star Global Concert.

Lozoya and Urtusástegui express the hope that their country’s International Jazz Day celebrations can eventually coalesce with another important Mexican observance – El Día del Niño, or Children’s Day – which also takes place on April 30. “Jazz musicians, like children,” says Lozoya, “are open to sharing together, and no matter where you are, they just want to ‘play.’” The pair envisions a day filled with activities using jazz music to connect people of all generations. “We have to invest time, love, education and culture in the young generations, because they are the immediate future of our society.”

In honor of the 2021 edition of International Jazz Day, Lozoya and Urtusástegui organized an evening of socially-distanced performances at San Miguel’s Centro Cultural, featuring a range of artists and styles spanning 100 years of jazz history. Click here to watch a highlight performance from the event on the Festival’s Facebook page.

Blues Alley Jazz, USA

Blues Alley is one of the most iconic jazz venues in the world, but its impact extends far beyond the performances that appear on its stage. With a portfolio of programming that includes diverse education, community outreach and cultural diplomacy initiatives, we are proud to count this piece of jazz history among the worldwide community of International Jazz Day. Read on to learn more about Blues Alley’s history and legacy.


Founded in 1965, Blues Alley is America’s oldest continuing jazz supper club. Located in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s historic Georgetown neighborhood in an 18th-century red brick carriage house, Blues Alley offers its patrons an ambiance and intimacy reminiscent of the jazz clubs of the 1920’s and 30’s. The venue’s storied stage, with its unmistakable brick façade and iconic logo, has showcased a plethora of internationally renowned jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Grover Washington Jr., Ramsey Lewis, Terence Blanchard, Charlie Byrd, Maynard Ferguson and Eva Cassidy, among many others, making it one of the premiere live jazz venues in the world.

After more than 50 years in continuous operation, Blues Alley is a genuine institution, both in the cultural ecosystem of the U.S. capital city and in the world of jazz musicians and listeners. As Georgetown University professor and longtime Blues Alley patron Maurice Jackson recently put it, “Jazz does so much to bring people together. It does so much in analyzing social problems. If you listen to the lyrics…human beings really care about the social conditions. They travel all over the world carrying their music, but they like coming back to places like Blues Alley because it was always a place like home.”

While not able to physically host audiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blues Alley has made it a priority to continue to support artists and keep jazz alive. Over the past year, the venue has maintained a regular schedule of concert live streams from the National Press Club in downtown Washington, in 2021 notably including a virtual installment of the club’s annual Japanese Jazz Series as part of the inaugural East Coast Jazz Festival. Featured artists have included renowned talent from the DC area and beyond, such as Christie Dashiell, Marshall Keys, Paul Carr, Emmet Cohen, Irene Jalenti and Miki Yamanaka, to name a few.

As part of Blues Alley’s commitment to the next generation, in 1985 the venue co-founded the Blues Alley Jazz Society along with internationally renowned jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Society offers significant jazz education and performance opportunities to students throughout the Washington, D.C. area. Programs allow students from all socio-economic backgrounds the chance to experience playing in an ensemble, receive expert instruction from professional area jazz musicians and collaborate creatively with their peers.

“[Musicians] travel all over the world carrying their music, but they like coming back to places like Blues Alley because it was always a place like home.”

Among the Society’s numerous initiatives are the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra, the Blues Alley Summer Jazz Camp, the annual BIG BAND JAM! And the Ella Fitzgerald Competition. The organization works with partners throughout the National Capital Region, including Voice of America and the U.S. National Park Service along with other major institutions, to multiply the impact of its educational and community outreach programming.

In 2021, Blues Alley joins the global family of partners contributing their own special programs and initiatives to the 10th Anniversary celebration of International Jazz Day. True to its legendary pedigree, the club will present a dynamic series of performances by artists representing six countries. The program is slated to be broadcast by Voice of America and streamed online for audiences around the world.

Branislav Dejanovic, Nišville Jazz Festival, Serbia

Branislav Dejanovic is one of the organizers of the annual Nišville Jazz Festival in Niš, Serbia, which has participated in International Jazz Day since its inception in 2012. The Festival’s annual Jazz Day program includes an extensive series of performances and jam sessions at local venues, with prominent Serbian and international groups such as Jazz Station, the Vojislav ilic Jazz Quintet and Naissblue. Past editions have even included concert presentations in neighboring countries Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania. Read on to learn why Dejanovic believes festivals like Nišville can help expand the future audience for jazz.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
I think jazz music–personally for me but for all jazz lovers–means freedom of expression and universal language worldwide. The city of Niš is, along with Novi Sad, the second city in Serbia (after Belgrade), and center of the poorer south of Serbia, so bringing great musicians to Niš means a lot for this region of Serbia.

We are proud that every year Nišville–our event–attracts a large audience, not only from the region but from the rest of Serbia as well as from foreign countries. We are particularly proud of the educational character of Nišville. We bring a lot of young people who initially visit our festival to hear more commercial performers such as Incognito, Solomon Burke or Candy Dulfer. However, after the first encounter with jazz music, these young people continue to attend the festival in the following years to listen to Roy Hargrove, Benny Golson, Tom Harrell, etc.

Furthermore, my opinion is that jazz, as a universal language, could narrow the gaps between the various nationalities living in this region, including Serbian, Bulgarian, Roma, Albanian, etc. This is one of the main reasons for starting our project Jazz – a Multicultural Expression.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
International Jazz Day, which we have celebrated since the very first year, is important because on this day [April 30] the world’s attention is drawn to “the real work of art,” because jazz is the art that marked the past 100 years of world history. It is of great importance, especially for regions dominated by kitsch.

“International Jazz Day is important because on April 30, the world’s attention is drawn to ‘the real work of art.'”

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
We would like to see the emergence of more people taking part in the celebration of International Jazz Day, as well as more people coming to jazz performances.

In the long term, we would like to see the emergence of more young bands from Serbia who will be performing all over the world. Also, we would like to see more talented but self-taught young Roma musicians who play in traditional brass bands (many of whom are included in our projects) receive music education and contribute to the world music scene, in the same way that self-taught Afro Americans from New Orleans developed music that marked the 20th and 21st centuries.

Additionally, we would like to build bridges between people of various nationalities, confessions, traditions and ages–through jazz. And last but not least–one day, we would like to help organize International Jazz Day in Niš, Serbia, as the Global Host City!

Brenda Sisane, South Africa

Brenda Sisane is an accomplished journalist, broadcaster and community organizer who is recognizable to jazz listeners in her native South Africa from her longtime work as a host on Johannesburg-based KAYA FM. Sisane also serves as Executive Director of the non-profit SPIN Foundation and has been a dedicated advocate for International Jazz Day since its early days. Sisane and her team have presented a host of prominent Jazz Day celebrations over the years exploring the “roots and routes” of South African jazz and showcasing notable South African artists such as McCoy Mrubata and Siya Makhuzeni. Read on to learn why Sisane feels listening to jazz makes her more tolerant of different viewpoints.


Why do you celebrate International Jazz Day?
I believe that jazz deserves this day dedicated to its potential and its achievements. In South Africa today, jazz offers the possibility to retell the story of our heritage to the world.

What does jazz mean to you personally? To your community and your country?
To me personally jazz resonates with a sense of freedom to associate, explore and engage with other world cultures. Jazz has improved my listening skills. Its vastness of styles has made me more tolerant of various sounds that I take in, from the most complex free jazz to the easiest listening. This ability to tolerate is further extended to my everyday life, in that I am more receptive to people’s views and try always to keep an open mind.

For my community, I believe we can draw from our indigenous forms of music to further enrich our creativity.

How can jazz help improve people’s lives?
Jazz can be used to profile our diverse culture and its dynamic people in how they dance, sing and make art–and therefore is a formidable tool for tourism promotion.

César Machado, Convívio Cultural Association, Portugal

César Machado is the President of the Convívio Cultural Association in Guimarães, Portugal, an organization dedicated to promoting jazz through programs including the annual Guimarães Jazz Festival and the Convívio Jazz School, which engages with local music students. Under Machado’s leadership, the Convívio Cultural Association has been an active participant in International Jazz Day since 2016. Read on to learn why Machado sees jazz as the music of freedom, and Guimarães as the perfect place in which to experience Jazz Day festivities.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Does music have frontiers? Of course. Frontiers exist, if for no other reason, to give us the pleasure of crossing them. That is why they are there. If there is a music that can cross styles, eras, sounds, repertoires of such diverse origins and…translate all of them to its own language…that music is jazz. In that sense, jazz is the music of freedom. A free freedom!

That is why jazz was also a voice for the value of liberty, for the reclamation of rights in the fight to make man more human and the world a better place. Jazz helped to win several civic battles. To all this, we may add the fact that jazz is a beautiful music, that fills our souls and that the body cannot resist.

In Guimarães, jazz came to stay. The Guimarães Jazz Festival, today the most important in Portugal, organized in partnership with the Guimarães municipality, the Municipal Cooperative “A Oficina” and the Convívio Cultural Association, has hosted many of the more important musicians of the history of this music. These have included, among many others, Betty Carter, Hank Jones, Cecil Taylor, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ahmad Jamal, Jimmy Cobb, Lee Konitz, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, Dave Holland, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Maria Schneider, Brian Blade, John Patitucci and Terence Blanchard. And almost every Portuguese jazz musician and many of the best in Europe.

Right now, in Guimarães, jazz is a very important part of the city’s life. The [Convívio Jazz] School is an arrow pointing to the future and that is why we are working to attract young musicians from the philharmonic bands to the world of jazz. Jazz in Guimarães has a present and we are building its future. As Miguel Torga, the Portuguese poet, said, “Time works for the future and we are the future.” Jazz is the music of the future. We could ask–”could Guimarães exist without jazz?”

Yes it could, but it wouldn’t be the same thing.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
Guimarães is branded by jazz. It has the importance that comes from hosting the best jazz festival in the country, but it breaths jazz all year long. In a city with such a drive to jazz, the celebration of jazz is a natural thing as is our “Living Room,” our beautiful historical center, that has such well preserved streets and squares that were classified as World Heritage in 2001 by UNESCO.

The importance of the celebration of [International Jazz Day] comes from all this. It gives the fans one more chance to enjoy this music, creates a chance of gathering musicians and even the chance to organize special ensembles for this day’s program but, above all, a chance to bring jazz to less usual publics that in our city can feel the call to enjoy jazz, to get closer to it.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
I would like if International Jazz Day could in fact bring a new public to love this music. That is what I would like the most. I would like that the ones that already belong to jazz, because they listen to it and love it, would dedicate a big part of this day to jazz, listening to it, enjoying life and celebrating it as an intimate thing but also shared with the closest people, shared by a brotherly community, savoring it between friends because jazz provides this approach between people.

I would like that this day give a special opportunity for all the musicians involved to listen to one another, to play with younger friends, to improvise over themes of this music that we all love so much. I would like that the live stream we are preparing, in a somewhat amateur way, would create a human cord connected by jazz, linking several places in the world where jazz is being played and listened to, where it is being loved, transforming these moments in moments where the world can live in harmony.

Chris Henderson, France

Chris Henderson is a versatile drummer who has been a fixture on the live music scene in his adopted home of Paris, France for more than forty years. He has performed around the world with storied artists including the Sun Ra Arkestra, Harold Mabern, Marion Brown, Patricia Kaas, Justo Almario and Ed Blackwell, along the way eagerly absorbing influences from dancehall music to Makossa. True to one of his heroes, Art Blakey, Henderson has served as a real jazz ambassador for decades, including participating in a 2016 International Jazz Day program at the Café Bercy, a Parisian brasserie. Read on to learn about Henderson’s vision for the true impact of International Jazz Day.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
For us we are using jazz to unite people, bringing together people from all kinds of backgrounds, to share our love and joy for this beautiful universal music style.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
Catching new listeners, young and old, remembering and paying tribute to the jazz greats some know very well–others not so–respecting their musical spirit and the path they paved for us.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
More concerts, for every big city in the world (like Paris) a page where the concerts are announced in a clear way.

Constant Boty, Côte d’Ivoire

Constant Boty is a musician, educator and humanitarian who is passionate about using his art to make a positive difference in his native Côte d’Ivoire–and beyond. He has brought this commitment to diverse International Jazz Day projects since 2014, most recently devising a two-country program for the 2021 edition divided between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana around “Jazz, Youth and Development.” The project focuses on engaging with young people in both countries through music. Read more about Boty’s life and work below.


Ivorian Constant Boty is among a select group of West African musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often contradictory elements of innovation and tradition. Boty has found his niche perfecting a fine mix of West African folkloric music, European classical, jazz, and electronic music, having recorded with artists as diverse as saxophonist Greg Osby, pianists James Weidman and Benito Gonzalez, drummers Poogie Bell and Jerome Jennings, clarinetist Oran Etkin, bassist Solomon Dorsey, and the late trombonist Calvin Jones, among others, Boty regularly performs in countries across Africa, both as a solo act and with his band, the Guru Guru Project. The group released its debut album, Guru Guru, in 2015 to critical acclaim, with a second release, Comme Ci, Comme Ça, released in 2019.

Trained as a classical guitarist at the Abidjan High Institute of Arts, Boty is also an enthusiastic and experienced music educator, dedicated to sharing his craft with the next generation. He has taught guitar and West African tribal drumming at the German Swiss International School in Accra for the past five years, and conducts music workshops on jazz and West African folkloric music all over Europe and Africa.

Boty first became involved in International Jazz Day in 2014 while living in Accra. Under the patronage of the local UNESCO office, Boty’s company, Mevicon Services, was charged with curating the next four Jazz Day celebrations, with Boty himself serving as musical director. The events in Accra proved highly successful, spanning concerts, radio appearances, educational workshops, and cultural exchanges involving local Ghanaian artists and visiting musicians from around the world.

Now relocated to Cote d’Ivoire, Boty plans to continue his International Jazz Day involvement with events across the country and throughout Africa. He hopes to work with students to celebrate Zaouli, the popular music and dance of the indigenous Guro communities in Bouaflé. Zaouli was inscribed in 2017 on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In addition, Boty hopes to present a concert showcasing West African tribal music alongside standard American jazz.

Most of all, though, Boty views International Jazz Day as an opportunity for healing. Remarking upon his plans for the 2021 edition, Boty says:

For me and the supporting team that work with me in Côte-d’Ivoire, my home country, and in Ghana, my country of adoption, we always believe that Jazz Day is what we need to strengthen peaceful cohesion among our people.

Côte-d’Ivoire is a country with 26 million people, with more than 60 tribal groups. Each tribe with its history, its spiritual beliefs, its traditions and its music; the same for Ghana, a country of 31 million people with more than 50 tribes. Of course we have inter-tribal alliances that were sealed by our ancestors, but now in the modern times when young people don’t learn from elders and don’t know these peaceful alliances, there is always war and misunderstanding in our communities. But since there is Jazz Day, we have been able to unite and speak our differences through music and learning about each other in a different perspective.

So for us it is a must to embrace Jazz Day and make it our médecine for survival.

In honor of International Jazz Day 2021, Boty aims to theme his two-country program–divided between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana–around “Jazz, Youth and Development,” focusing on engaging with young people in both countries through music. Plans call for an education and performance tour by an international ensemble comprised of Boty and multiple visiting artists from the United States and Germany. All activities will be offered entirely free of charge.

Watch Boty’s latest musical project, “Time to Care,” supporting the Village of Hope community health project in rural Ghana

Daisy Coole, Young Music Makers, United Kingdom

Daisy Coole is the Musical Director for Young Music Makers (YMM), a music education charity located in northwest London that strives to make musical instruction inclusive and accessible to all. YMM serves students as young as four years of age through 39 different ensembles, private instruction by top professional musicians and regular performance opportunities. YMM’s past International Jazz Day participation has included special education programs, jam sessions and performances by their grade 6-8 student big band. Most recently, the YMM Big Band appeared alongside the visiting Vaskivuori Big Band and Hämeenkylä Big Band, from Finland, at a “battle of the bands”-style program at St. Luke’s Church in Kentish town. Read on to learn more about YMM’s jazz work and how Coole is using IJD as an opportunity to promote gender equality.


“Jazz means being a fearless improviser because we’re all in it together!”

What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
At Young Music Makers jazz means learning to “groove.” Jazz means teamwork. Jazz means supporting other musicians–musically and verbally. Jazz means being a fearless improviser because we’re all in it together!

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
We are lucky enough to have two big bands at YMM, but many students don’t hear jazz at home or in school. International Jazz Day reminds them that music transcends the boundaries of spoken language as it is celebrated all over the world. And we love opening our doors to young musicians and giving them a taste of the great traditions!

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
We are delighted to be welcoming members of the all-female jazz group Nérija to co-lead our open workshop and jam in honor of International Jazz Day. We hope they will inspire our young female jazzers who can often be discouraged by male-dominated jam sessions. Be brave!

Danijela Milić, USA

Danijela Milić is a Human Resources Policies Officer at the United Nations International Civil Service Commission and an avid supporter of the arts. Milić has been instrumental in organizing independent International Jazz Day celebrations in New York City, including programs at United Nations Headquarters and other venues around the city. A native of Montenegro, she is passionate about sharing the jazz talent of the Balkans with the world, with world-renowned players like Dimitrije Vasiljevic and Marko Djordjevic on the roster of past artists. Read on to learn why Milić believes in jazz as a powerful catalyst for building community around the world.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
It is often said that music is the most universal language, and to me jazz in particular is the most universal and the most accepting musical dialect. Jazz represents more than music–it is a form of dialogue that knows no boundaries and unites people of different cultures, religions and nationalities. Jazz also represents freedom of expression and tolerance, spontaneity and improvisation. Its beats are recognizable and yet, like the world around us, jazz is ever changing and evolving. Jazz draws on different national and local music cultures. It honors and respects the past while at the same time provides room for innovation and creativity.

I am fortunate to live in New York City, where opportunities to get involved and to listen to great jazz are countless. I am originally from Montenegro and my region is not often associated with jazz music, although we do have many talented and globally recognized musicians. It is my hope that more musicians from the Balkans will be representing jazz music at the highest levels all over world and helping in spreading the good vibe and positive energy, uniting fragmented societies and inspiring new generations.

“Jazz represents more than music–it is a form of dialogue that knows no boundaries and unites people of different cultures, religions and nationalities.”

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
As a UN staff member and avid supporter and promoter of the arts, I believe in the community-building power of the arts and music, which, when channeled in a right way, brings out the best in people and motivates us to do good. The nexus between culture, art, music and development is a powerful vehicle with which to help steer our lives in a different direction and make a positive difference in the world. Artistic expression, and especially music as a universal language, has been interwoven with the fabric of our lives for centuries and can bring virtual strangers together in shared moments of connectivity. Culture–meaning music, film, theater, literature, digital arts–can be married with development to offer an alternative tool for change and expression of freedom, and also as a factor for social stability and advancement.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
The number of International Jazz Day events is expanding every year. I would like to see even more cities and musicians taking part in this event in front of even larger audiences, as well as inclusion of other art forms in honoring this special day, like film, dance, etc.

David Kasochi, Zambia

David Kasochi is a bassist, composer, bandleader and founder of Zambian jazz fusion group Afro RED. A recognizable presence on the Lusaka scene, Kasochi formed Afro RED in 2009 to revive the culture of live music in Zambia, with a special focus on jazz. Kasochi has organized International Jazz Day events with Afro RED since 2016 at a range of local venues, involving bands from across the country and surrounding south-central Africa. Read on to learn why Kasochi feels Zambia needs IJD right now.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
To me, before jazz as music, it is life. I live it, so its manifestation is through music. Jazz music to me is an expression of love, peace, giving and–most importantly–living. I believe that people who embrace jazz find it easy to embrace peace and harmony in society.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
I am celebrating International Jazz day because the world and my community need it. The confusion that has rocked my country can only be stopped by the universal language that preaches love and peace. That’s jazz to me. The people that are coming to this event are of high caliber and influence so I am sure after this event they will take the positive news back into the communities they manage.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
I’d love to see people do extraordinary things like giving to the homeless. Reconciliation should begin to exist from this day henceforth.

“I believe that people who embrace jazz find it easy to embrace peace and harmony in society.”

Dilson Laguna, Brazil

Dilson Laguna is a professional guitarist and bandleader based in São Paulo, Brazil. He leads the Comité Jazz Club, a musical community that organizes shows, talks, themed movie sessions and other jazz-related music activities to help promote new and up-and-coming artists. Read on to learn more about Laguna’s vision for artist engagement around IJD, and why he feels jazz contributes to better social cohesion.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Jazz for me is spontaneity through an art form. It is the mix between tradition and future and a sophisticated way of expression that reaches many hearts.

For my community it has become hope for many poor kids who live in less privileged areas, who found in jazz a passion, career and a way of living.

The spirit of collaboration we find in jazz helps to develop a better social community, and that’s why we believe that jazz can contribute to a better society, particularly in a place like Brazil.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
We’re celebrating this day to remind our community of the importance of music and arts for the development of our culture and youngsters.

Also we want to serve as a platform for new and upcoming talents, reaching both an audience of jazz enthusiasts and new followers. It will be of great importance for us to contribute to our music scene and be part of a worldwide celebration like IJD.

“For my community, [jazz] has become hope for many poor kids who live in less privileged areas, who found in jazz a passion, career and a way of living.”

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
We would love to see increasing the awareness of this genre in our country in the long term, as well as see more incentives to labels, artists and professionals involved in the jazz music industry. But for now, we just want to gather with other jazz devotees to celebrate and party together.

Dion Parson, USA

Dion Parson is an internationally renowned drummer, bandleader, composer, and educator whose idiosyncratic musical sensibilities and dedication to mentorship are paving the way for a new generation of jazz listeners and players in the Caribbean. International Jazz Day was pleased to welcome Parson into its family of partners in 2021. Read on to learn more about his diverse activities as a performer, teacher and advocate for the musical traditions and cultural heritage of his home.


Born and raised on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dion Parson initially took up the trombone before discovering his love for the drums at age 15. He received a grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts to study at the famed Interlochen Music Academy in Michigan and was later selected to represent the USVI in the McDonald’s All-American High School Band. Parson attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, and studied percussion with Keith Copeland and William Moersch, and eventually earned a BM in Music Education and a Master’s in jazz performance. He also studied for 14 years under master drummer Michael Carvin, who remains his mentor.

In the 1990s, Parson was a fixture on the New York scene, performing with jazz icons including Milt Jackson, Jon Faddis, Ernest Ranglin, Baaba Maal, Monty Alexander, Geri Allen, Lee Konitz, Dianne Reeves, Wycliff Gordon, and Cyrus Chestnut, among many others. He has also enjoyed a prolific career as a recording artist, appearing on dozens of albums on major labels like Columbia, Sony, Blue Note, Verve, and Concord Records. His first album as a leader, 21st Century, was released in 2000 with saxophonist, co-leader, and fellow USVI native Ron Blake, followed shortly after that by People Music in 2001.

In 1998, Parson and Blake founded the 21st Century Band, a unique ensemble combining mainstream jazz influences with rhythms from the musicians’ home islands. 21st Century Band with US Virgin Islanders Dion Parson (drums), Ron Blake (saxophone), Rashawn Ross (trumpet), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Victor Provost (steel pan) accompanied by Melvin Jones (trumpet), Kenny Davis (bass), Carlton Holmes (piano), and Alioune Faye (percussion and sabar drums), has since released a series of albums featuring prominent guests such as Terell Stafford and Marcus Printup, including St. Thomas. This 2015 release pays tribute to the eponymous island where Parson, Blake, and other musicians in the group were born and includes contemporary riffs on classic compositions such as “Rockin’ In Rhythm,” “All Blues,” and–of course–the Sonny Rollins standard “St. Thomas.”

Parson’s commitment to his USVI roots is not merely performative–in addition to shining a spotlight on significant jazz talent from the Islands through his 21st Century Band. Furthermore, Dion devotes his time to helping aspiring young musicians in the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean to learn more about their cultural heritage and become competent artists and creators in the process. Founded in 2012, Parson’s nonprofit United Jazz Foundation (UJF) seeks to identify, educate and mentor USVI students interested in pursuing a career in music. UJF also offers an interdisciplinary music curriculum for students in Pre-K through high school that uses culture–both local and global–to inspire self-confidence and academic achievement. At the university level, Parson is shaping the studies and careers of a new generation of USVI arts professionals as Chair of the Communication and Performing Arts Department of the University of the Virgin Islands.

Parson’s efforts to educate and uplift his fellow Virgin Islanders, while also raising the profile of his home territory’s musical traditions, have crystallized further in the inception of the Caribbean Jazz Institute (CJI), a summer jazz education program that debuted in 2017 at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney, Maine. Under the direction of Mr. Ron Blake, CJI brought together leading jazz musicians from the Caribbean, including Parson and Steel Pannist Victor Provost, for an intensive 10-day program of study with student musicians focusing on small ensemble performance, the introduction of rhythms of the Caribbean through the adaptation of original and standard jazz repertoire, creative practice techniques, ear training, music theory and more.

CJI has since evolved into the Caribbean Music Institute, launched in 2020 by United Jazz Foundation, which continues Parson’s mission to elevate and promote the musical heritage of the Caribbean worldwide. In 2021, the Institute plans to unveil the Caribbean Music Institute Orchestra, a large ensemble featuring faculty and alumni from Parson’s numerous educational and community outreach endeavors over the past decade.

For the International Jazz Day 10th Anniversary Celebration in 2021, Parson showcased top talent from the USVI in a unique performance program produced in collaboration with the USVI Department of Tourism. The performance appeared on YouTube, Facebook, and jazzday.com. Watch the full-length virtual program below.

eMPathia Jazz Duo, Brazil

Comprised of Brazil-based vocalist Mafalda Minnozzi and guitarist Paul Ricci, the eMPathia Jazz Duo specializes in interpreting popular songs from Brazil, Italy, France and the USA through a jazz lens. The duo have appeared in venues around the world including the legendary Birdland jazz club in New York City. Their previous International Jazz Day performances in 2016 and 2017 have enthralled audiences in Porto S. Elpidio, Italy and Bremen, Germany. Read on to learn why Minnozzi and Ricci believe the universal quality of jazz is so important.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
First of all, dignity. Jazz has served as a guide and example of greatness in the struggle of life. Unlike other “folk” music, the integration of African and classical music has elevated the language to a plateau where ALL people can and do relate to it. The amazing thing is that it is an individual expression but it is universal. It means that we all can talk to each other beyond any barrier.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
Because it’s a chance for others to do what we do every day–celebrate jazz! Because as much as we see reports of the decline of jazz’s popularity in the USA, we also see the strength and beauty of jazz and we believe it is the one true language to bring all cultures together. Every city that we play at in Brazil and Europe has a jazz club. International Jazz Day will be an important factor in the development of our musical and spiritual future.

What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?
Short term? A celebration! Long term? An inspiration to all, especially the young, that can be born out of that celebration. We must cut through the barriers that mass-produced, consumer-driven markets have created against the dignified art of self-expression that jazz presents as an alternative. The more we can preserve that spirit of celebration, the stronger and longer we will walk. Thank you, Jazz Day!

Eugene Shapiro, USA

Eugene Shapiro is a jazz guitarist, composer, educator and bandleader based in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He currently leads the Shapiro Project, a jazz quartet that is active on the Las Vegas scene, and teaches at the College of Southern Nevada. Shapiro has organized programs for the annual celebration of International Jazz Day since 2016 at venues including the West Las Vegas Library, the Winchester Cultural Center and The Smith Center, with an emphasis on reaching members of the local community. Read on to learn more about Shapiro’s ongoing quest to raise the profile of jazz music in his local community.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Jazz music is the way of life for me. I dedicated my life to playing, composing, promoting, and teaching jazz music. I can not imagine my life without jazz music in it. It is a wonderful, sophisticated, groovy, exciting, danceable, catchy, inspiring, liberating, swinging music! In Las Vegas, where jazz–especially traditional straight-ahead jazz–is not as popular as in other parts of the US, I have tried to promote and educate audiences about it for over 17 years.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
I am celebrating International Jazz Day because it is important to acknowledge and promote this original American art form that became a global phenomenon. We also need to educate kids about it, so that the jazz lives on!

What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?
I would like this day every year to be a celebration of jazz, past, present and future. Long term, I would like it to be extended to a weeklong event.

Jazz Day 2020 Virtual Submission

Fósforo Sequera, Venezuela

José “Fósforo” Sequera is a musician and broadcaster based in Valencia, Venezuela, who has participated in International Jazz Day every year since 2016. Host of the popular radio program La Caja del Fósforo on Valencia’s Onda 100.9 FM, Sequera presents an array of programming each April 30 to promote and highlight the positive worldwide impact of jazz, from live radio shows to podcasts to in-person education programs and concerts. His 2021 program featured a master class at El Colegio Sagrado Corazón led by the school’s faculty of music, which was streamed live via Instagram. Read on to learn why Sequera believes jazz is such a powerful way to eliminate barriers between people and cultures.


“Jazz allows us to build bridges and break down barriers between humans through this wonderful form of sound art.”

What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
I believe in jazz as a verb, as an attitude and form of life. Jazz allows us to build bridges and break down barriers between humans through this wonderful form of sound art. In our community it represents a mechanism of inclusion and integration of cultures, being a key element in the transformation and evolution of society.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it Important?
We are celebrating International Jazz Day because this music has become so universal that it allows us to establish links with a variety of people of different races, enabling integration and communication between humans. Its importance is in fact the promotion of values ​​such as freedom, including respect, tolerance, change and evolution, among others.

 

What would you like to see happen through this Day–short term and long term?
See many people around the world enjoy many events that have been scheduled for this day and this is a vehicle for peace, understanding, dialogue and respect, demonstrating that jazz goes beyond the artistic event.
Gigi Esposito, Onyx Jazz Club, Italy

Gigi Esposito is President of the Onyx Jazz Club, a live music venue and presenting organization located in Matera in Italy’s mountainous Basilicata region. Onyx has celebrated International Jazz Day since the very first edition, in 2012, with concerts, education programs, exhibitions and other special outreach events led by a range of artists from across the globe. The club’s signature event, the Gezziamoci jazz festival, this year completed its 34th edition and has featured renowned Italian and international musicians such as Paolo Fresu, Dado Moroni, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bill Frisell, Peter Erskine, Avishai Cohen and many more. Read on to learn why Esposito believes jazz represents constructive conflict at its best.


What does jazz means to you?
Jazz means freedom. Express ideas, mix languages, communicate in the best way to make [yourself] understood. Jazz is sharing, participation, unity. Jazz is beauty–the beauty that only music can grow in people’s hearts. But jazz is also conflict, the constructive one, that makes you grow and makes a community grow. With this spirit was born the Onyx Jazz Club in Matera–to introduce jazz to those who still have not had a chance to know him.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it so important?
International Jazz Day is a acknowledgement to all musicians that through music one can have the courage to overturn rules. April 30th is a recognition to all those who believe in freedom of expression. April 30th is a recognition to a group of women and men in Basilicata, in Matera, that thanks to jazz, feel like citizens of the world.

The Onyx Jazz Club in Matera plans workshops, lessons on jazz and two important festivals. For 30 years, we are on the territory for the promotion of culture and jazz music. International Jazz Day is an event we could not miss in the annual program of our association. Every year, the day of April 30th is preceded by lectures and meetings on jazz for the people who want to understand the importance of the Jazz Day.

“April 30th is a recognition to all those who believe in freedom of expression.”

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
In Matera, on April 30th, we will see lots of people, including many young people, having fun with jazz and the way we do culture. For this reason we call on all the Matera schools to participate in the Jazz Day.

Glenn Robertson, South Africa

Glenn Robertson is a jazz vocalist and bandleader based in Cape Town, South Africa. The founder and leader of the Glenn Robertson Jazz Band, he has organized local International Jazz Day events every year since 2017 at the Kaleidoscope Café in Cape Town’s Claremont suburb. Read on to learn why Robertson loves the communal aspect of jazz, and why he thinks it’s important to make Jazz Day a multigenerational activity.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Being a jazz musician for over 40 years, I have found that jazz draws people from all cultures and ages together, and I most specifically love the freedom to improvise through jazz. I enjoy watching people visibly relax in the moment while the music plays–it’s as if they are taken on a journey where they forget their differences and stresses and enjoy the soothing sounds of jazz. Our community hosts weekly jazz evenings on Friday nights and we have noticed how different communities from close and far away come to support these events. It is our way of reaching out to our neighbours and inviting them into our space to enjoy what we have to offer.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
It is important for us to connect with our jazz friends globally on a specific day and remember where jazz started. In participating in the Jazz Day–it is our way of practically embracing what you would like to achieve through this initiative–a day to celebrate the style of music that has touched so many lives and to celebrate the musicians who have gone before us. It is imperative that jazz lives on!

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
We make a conscious effort to always include in our programmes the young upcoming artists and the older jazz musicians. We would like to see the wide gap bridged by continuing to bring the young and the old together– celebrating, honouring and respecting each other.  Long term we would like to see funding come through in order for us to roll out workshops and programmes to continue the handing over of the baton from the older legendary musicians to the younger musicians–and in doing so–keeping jazz alive in our city (Cape Town) and our nation (South Africa).

It would also be wonderful for the American artists to at some point become a part of what we are doing here in Africa, so that we can empower younger, previously disadvantaged musicians as well.

Greg Poppleton, Australia
Australian Greg Poppleton is an actor, voiceover artist and singer specializing in jazz of the 1920s and 30s. He has appeared in major feature films such as Moulin Rouge and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as well as numerous Australian television programs and advertisements. In 2016 as part of the International Jazz Day 2016 Fifth Anniversary celebration, his period jazz group, Greg Poppleton and the Bakelite Broadcasters, presented a special tribute performance at the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre in New South Wales.

What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Jazz means identity. I sing jazz. I’ve listened to jazz all my life. My sons play modern jazz. Greg Poppleton and the Bakelite Broadcasters play 1920s-30s jazz exclusively. And I broadcast jazz every week. I broadcast online and on over 30 radio stations across Australia. The Phantom Dancer radio show on Sydney radio station 2SER has been on air since 1985. It’s a non-stop two hour mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV. You can check out a past show or two right here.
 
Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
I’m celebrating International Jazz Day to cut above the noise, if only for a day, and say, “Listen up. Jazz isn’t some obscure art form. It’s international. It’s multicultural. It’s creative. And this day proves it.”
 
What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?
Short term, I’d like people who had never heard jazz before to be motivated by this celebratory, world-wide musical shout-out to give it a listen.  Long term, I’d like to see International Jazz Day crystallize Jazz Pride. No more apologizing for jazz. No more jazz festivals slapping jazz fans in the face by booking privileged music like rock, hip-hop, funk and blues. 
Haina de Jazz, Dominican Republic

Haina de Jazz is a nonprofit music education and community outreach organization based in Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic. Read on to learn how the organization, under the leadership of founder Angel Rafael Feliz, is using a rich palette of cross-genre artistic programming to create International Jazz Day events that bring the community together.


Haina de Jazz grew out of the simple idea of providing a “different, fresh and innovative” artistic product to the people of this small municipality, located just 20 kilometers outside of Santo Domingo. In just four years, this small but dedicated organization has become a notable International Jazz Day success story, working to tear down barriers to accessing the uniquely positive experience of live jazz—one concert and cultural program at a time.

Founded in 2015 by journalist and concert producer Angel Rafael Feliz, Haina de Jazz initially aimed to enrich Haina’s cultural landscape by staging the municipality’s first-ever jazz performance. Feliz hoped to convey to his fellow residents that “there are other ways in which to play music,” as well as to involve young people and those who, due to economic circumstances, would not ordinarily be able to attend a jazz concert. Since then, Haina de Jazz has presided over four uninterrupted years of jazz performances for its community, as well as education programs and outreach initiatives that use jazz to inspire the next generation. A variety of local musicians, including Víctor Soto, Jhon Martez, Dr. Paúl Austerlitz and Toné Vicioso, have participated in the group’s activities. Programming also has featured student ensembles from the Dominican Republic’s National Conservatory of Music, among other institutions.

“I have a theory that when a boy or girl listens to jazz, their vision of life is different…when someone from this group puts their hands on a musical instrument in order to play jazz, their life is forever changed. We change our behavior, we are better citizens, we practice peace and love both toward others and nature, and we protect the universe.” – Angel Rafael Feliz

Haina de Jazz has been an enthusiastic International Jazz Day partner since 2017, offering programming that goes well beyond the typical concert and jam session. Indeed, organizer Feliz believes that an appreciation for jazz can be achieved through multiple routes. “Linking artistic expressions, literature, concerts and conversations with students…allows us to approach those who do not know this genre, and further allows them to know jazz in all of its manifestations,” he says, and Haina de Jazz’s programming shows a strong commitment to this ideal.

Previous International Jazz Day celebrations have incorporated interdisciplinary activities such as “Haina Paints the Colors of Jazz,” in which local artists work with students at the municipal cultural center to develop jazz-inspired drawings, paintings and other mixed media projects. In 2019, the workshops culminated in a public exhibition of the students’ work. Community members also benefit from talks and encounters with renowned local authors, poets, cultural influencers and artists, presenting a special opportunity to gain a different perspective on jazz and its relationship with other art forms.

Additional program offerings have included educational conferences on the history of jazz and its development in the Dominican Republic, a listening session series titled “Media hora de Merengue con Jazz” (“Half-hour of Merengue with Jazz”) in local nightclubs, and panel discussions with influential local jazz artists and community leaders. Special performances featuring student musicians as well as the organizer’s very own Haina Jazz Big Band have been dedicated to the greatest jazz artists in history. True to Feliz’s dedication to uplifting and empowering the municipality’s students, nearly every activity either takes place in an educational institution or is specially designed to engage young learners from a range of artistic disciplines.

For Haina de Jazz, sparking the practice and appreciation of jazz in Bajos de Haina is not an end in and of itself. “I have a theory,” says founder Feliz, “that when a boy or girl listens to jazz, their vision of life is different. I am certain that when someone from this group puts their hands on a musical instrument in order to play jazz, their life is forever changed. We change our behavior, we are better citizens, we practice peace and love both toward others and nature, and we protect the universe.”

International Jazz Day is proud to recognize Haina de Jazz for its years of supporting and showcasing the positive message of jazz music.

Follow Haina de Jazz on Twitter and Facebook.

Hannibal Saad, Syria

Hannibal Saad is a Syrian musician, festival organizer and cultural entrepreneur based in The Hague, Netherlands. He has been organizing International Jazz Day activities annually since 2014, bringing to bear a unique perspective on the healing and unifying power of music. Read on to learn more about his efforts to bridge the musics of the West and the Arab world, his work to bring a jazz festival to Syria, and why he feels Syrian musical heritage is uniquely positioned to be receptive to jazz.


Hannibal Saad believes that jazz is a language with no boundaries. This belief stems from his more than 18 years of experience organizing festivals and projects using music from the East and West as a platform for cultural exchange. His first such initiative, Jazz Lives in Syria, which launched in 2004, brought together Syrian and international musicians for seven annual festivals that were the largest musical events in Syria.

Jazz Lives in Syria, says Saad, “aimed from the very beginning to pave the way towards a solid Syrian jazz music movement…In 2010, we were proud to give space and support for 10 bands. We also worked with many children in order to promote a grassroots movement for jazz. In our experience, people accept jazz easier when they can relate it to something they are familiar with—especially when it comes from their own culture. The Syrian music scene, with its rich and diversified musical heritage, is already regionally and internationally recognized.”

“Having a day like this is a miracle in itself. It is important to savor the ecstasy of life…Jazz is a mix of immediate expressions of feeling about the present, which summarize many immeasurable things. Sharing these moments with many people around the world is even more beautiful.” – Hannibal Saad

Building on the success of Jazz Lives in Syria, Saad established the Syrian Big Band, the first of its kind in the Arab world. The group worked with international musicians, composers and trainers to develop and perform its unique blend of jazz inspired by traditional Syrian music. Saad also began an annual concert series titled International Oriental Landscapes, as well as conferences exploring the origins and different forms of Maqam, a system of melodic modes used in Arabic music. Saad is particularly interested in the musical influences of ancient Syria and Iraq, as well as their neighbors in the Middle East.

Escalating conflicts in Syria led to Hannibal’s displacement, as well as that of many Syrian Big Band musicians. Acting on his strong belief that music can help bring about peace and reconciliation, Saad has worked tirelessly to organize events that keep Syrian music alive and raise funds for Syrian refugees, using International Jazz Day as a vector for delivering a message of peace. He views Jazz Day as a means of bringing others in touch with the intangible cultural heritage of his home country: “Having a day like this,” he says, “…is a miracle in itself. It is important to savor the ecstasy of life. Those few beautiful moments of our lives. Jazz is a mix of immediate expressions of feeling about the present, which summarize many immeasurable things. Sharing these moments with many people around the world is even more beautiful. We want to share with the world beautiful things about Syria.”

In 2014, Saad worked with organizers in Jordan, Lebanon and the Netherlands to celebrate International Jazz Day with simultaneous Jazz for Syria concerts. In 2015, Jazz for Syria celebrated International Jazz Day as part of a Global Week for Syria festival, featuring participation from more than 40 Syrian musicians and 100 international artists. More recently, members of the Syrian Big Band performed at the International Jazz Day celebration organized by Codarts University in the Netherlands to emphasize the humanitarian aspects of International Jazz Day. Saad himself participated in the International Jazz Day Global Host celebration in St. Petersburg, Russia, serving as a guest artist for the community outreach program and as a panelist alongside UNESCO Artist for Peace Danilo Pérez and UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.

Saad continues his efforts to promote cultural exchange and open dialogue for cultures in conflict through initiatives like the Oriental Landscapes festival, Global Week for Syria, Jazz for Syria, and others, with the aim of safeguarding the cultural heritage of the Middle East.

Inga Grubliauskiene, Lithuania

Inga Grubliauskiene is President of the Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival in Klaipeda, Lithuania, which has been held annually since 1994. The festival has been an influential cultural force in the surrounding area, in part prompting the creation of a Jazz Music Department at nearby Klaipėda University and helping drive a surge of interest in jazz throughout western Lithuania. The 2021 edition of the festival featured an international lineup including American vocalist Karl Frierson and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gunhild Carling.


“Life without jazz is a mistake.”

What does jazz means to you? To your community?
First of all, “life without jazz is a mistake,” because jazz helps to bring people together to make good things to happen in our city. Because jazz music helps to unite our community. We celebrate Jazz Day annually and spread the message of jazz values at our Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival, which helps not only to bring people together in organizing this musical event for free to all, but also fills our community with good and positive energy to do good deeds on a daily basis. For me personally, jazz helps me to express myself by improvising and taking changes in everyday life. Jazz isn’t just a musical genre, it’s a way of life.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
We celebrate International Jazz Day because our community loves jazz music and it is our way of life. Celebrating Jazz Day is important to us, because it gives us an opportunity to educate people from our society with different backgrounds about what is jazz. It helps to show positive values and culture heritage, as well as the improvisation that jazz music can and does bring to everyday life.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
Maybe it sounds cheesy, but on this day I see a lot of smiling, chilling and happy people around. There’s jazz music concerts and musicians playing in bars, café, restaurants, squares, etc. I see how the celebration of International Jazz Day evolves in our city, Klaipeda. With each year, Jazz Day connects more and more good people together, and it keeps me going and celebrating this day annually. So the most important achievement in the long term would be that jazz philosophy, musical rhythm, love for one another and the other values that jazz music brings, would find a way into everyone’s hearts and minds. I think that every day should be Jazz Day, and for me and our jazz community it is, because life without jazz is a mistake.

International Jazz Day AZ Foundation, USA

The International Jazz Day AZ Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims to use the annual celebration of International Jazz Day to raise the profile of jazz and arts education in the state of Arizona. Since 2012, founder William “Doc” Jones and the Foundation have organized a range of Jazz Day celebrations each year, bringing renowned musicians such as Azar Lawrence, Tony Monaco, Jesse McGuire to audiences in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale and beyond, and raising funds for organizations including the NextStudent Academy, the Academy of Excellence and the Boy Scouts of America. 


Tell us a little about your organization’s mission.
We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission to unite the state around a resolution proclaiming April 30 International Jazz Day in the State of Arizona.

Why does your organization celebrate International Jazz Day?
Not only have I been a professional jazz musician for 30 years, I have also been a music educator using jazz as a means to reduce crime in my community, as well as to promote staying in school for young people at risk.

Tell us about a favorite memory from International Jazz Day.
My favorite memory is when the full Arizona House and Senate, as well as the Governor and eight Mayors from around the State all presented us with a proclamation declaring April 30th International Jazz Day, as well as our 2nd “Jazz At Lunch Time” at the State Capitol.

How do you think jazz can improve people’s lives?
It allows those who are listening or playing this form of music the opportunity to be creative.

Jazz en Dominicana, Dominican Republic

Jazz en Dominicana is a blog, concert promoter and community organizer dedicated to raising the profile of native jazz talent in the Dominican Republic. The brainchild of journalist, author and jazz advocate Fernando Rodriguez de Mondesert, Jazz en Dominicana has joined the global celebration of International Jazz Day each year since 2012, and in 2021 celebrated its 15th anniversary. Read on to learn more about the organization’s efforts to enrich and enliven the cultural life of the Dominican Republic–through jazz.


Since 2012, commemorations of International Jazz Day in the Dominican Republic have grown steadily in both number and impact. From capital city Santo Domingo to northern hamlets like Sosúa and Cabarete, a rich series of programs including educational workshops, multimedia projects, concerts, jam sessions and television and radio broadcasts have brought jazz to an increasing number of Dominicans each year. Showcasing the island nation’s dynamic cultural and musical heritage, organizer Jazz en Dominicana has been at the forefront of this growth.

Founded to promote jazz in the Dominican Republic, as well as increase the profile of Dominican jazz musicians worldwide, Jazz en Dominicana was an early advocate for International Jazz Day. Initial efforts emphasized recruiting partners from multiple levels of government and civil society—often a challenging prospect for an arts and culture event. Founder Fernando Rodriguez De Mondesert recalls discovering inspiration in the words of International Jazz Day Co-Chair Herbie Hancock:

In 2012…it was difficult to get the UNESCO office…the Ministries of Culture and Tourism, the US Embassy, our National Conservatory of Music and various key players from the industry together to ‘buy into’ the idea of an official celebration of IJD in our country. At the last meeting, prior to the main event, some were on the verge of copping out. We opened the meeting with a Spanish translation reading of [former UNESCO Director-General] Irina Bokova’s and Herbie Hancock’s initial message—they sat, they listened, they understood…and it has been smooth sailing since!

Rodriguez and Jazz en Dominicana have built upon these robust partnerships to mobilize a diverse slate of jazz programming every year on and around April 30. Beginning with just a handful of events—by Rodriguez’s tally, the organization “went from 3 events in 2012 to over 20” in the most recent edition—Jazz en Dominicana’s Jazz Day tributes have included concert series, master classes, awards ceremonies and radio broadcasts, in recent years extending over multiple days and even into weeklong celebrations. The programs involve major educational and civic institutions, including the country’s National Conservatory of Music—which has hosted master classes and performances in the past—municipal cultural centers and top night spots like the Fiesta Sunset Jazz Club, Lulu Tasting Bar and El Mesón de la Cava.

True to its mission, Jazz en Dominicana’s Jazz Day events consistently showcase Dominican musicians like Juan Francisco Ordóñez, Javier Vargas, Alex Diaz and others, and aim to provide significant learning and performance opportunities for eager music students. While serving as a practical means of promoting and advancing jazz among the local citizenry, Rodriguez also sees Jazz en Dominicana’s Jazz Day activities as humanitarian in nature.

“Since International Jazz Day was officially designated in 2011,” he writes, “we have adopted as our mission to highlight jazz and its role in uniting people from all corners of the world. The healthy promotion of peace, dialogue, diversity and respect, freedom of expression, and strengthening the roles of our youth makes us proud to be a part of the international community, knowing that even one little grain of sand, when united with others around the world, can create a huge mountain that can then impact others and enable social changes.”

Jazz Society of Turkey

The Jazz Society of Turkey (Türkiye Caz Derneği) is a nonprofit organization based in Ankara that aims to eliminate barriers to artistic experiences, particularly music, for local residents. Director Tuğçe Alpaslan and her team have spearheaded a number of exciting initiatives over the past decade, from student scholarships to programming around gender equality, to ensure the Society’s continued relevance in the Turkish cultural context. Read on to learn more about the Society’s many projects, including their annual celebration of International Jazz Day.


An International Jazz Day partner from the very beginning, the Jazz Society of Turkey is a major contributor to the jazz scene in Ankara and beyond. Founded in 1995 as a program of the Middle East Technical University, the Society has grown into an accomplished arts and culture organizer, curating important events including the International Bodrum Jazz Festival, Jazz Mix Culture, and varied jazz workshops and cultural seminars.

The centerpiece of these efforts is the International Ankara Jazz Festival, an annual event featuring educational workshops, evening concerts, “jazz breakfast” events and more at multiple venues across the city. With the support of local embassies, government ministries, foundations and other partners, the Festival has curated performances by an array of Turkish and international artists, including Enrico Rava, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ayhan Sicimoğlu and Hakan Başar.

Presenting world-class performances is just one component of the Society’s ongoing mission. More broadly, as International Ankara Jazz Festival Coordinator Tuğçe Alpaslan notes, “The society tries to eliminate the barriers between art and people so that music is much more available and reachable” to the average Ankaralı. A key component of this approach includes enabling more students and members of the community to experience live jazz. Ticket prices are kept low to ensure accessibility to the broader public, and collaborations with Ankara-based NGOs and universities help promote listening opportunities locally.

Participants at the “Gender Discrimination in Art, Music, Jazz” panel discussion as part of the Jazz Society of Turkey’s International Jazz Day 2019 celebrations in Ankara.

The Society also maintains a focus on empowering the next generation, devoting a portion of proceeds to offer scholarships to promising young students for study abroad. Many of the Society’s concert programs throughout the year are followed by open master classes with the artists, encouraging the aspiring musicians in attendance to take away practical insights for their own playing.

The Jazz Society of Turkey has participated in International Jazz Day every year since the celebration’s 2012 inception. In 2019, organizers scheduled the 23rdInternational Ankara Jazz Festival to coincide with Jazz Day, holding the two-week festival’s opening ceremony and concert on April 30. Attendees enjoyed a spectacular performance by the Turkish Air Force’s Eagles of Jazz Orchestra, featuring father-daughter vocals duo Ayşe and İlham Gencer.

The 2019 festival theme, “Duets,” addressed the issue of gender equality through a series of male-female duet performances. Organizers also scheduled a panel discussion titled “Gender Discrimination in Art, Music, Jazz,” co-presented with local partner Atılım University. The extensive program of festival events continued through May 12, with a concluding concert by the Turkish Naval Forces “Naval Stars” Jazz Band and guest vocalists Ömür Göksel and Dilek Sert Erdoğan.

International Jazz Day congratulates the Jazz Society of Turkey on its longstanding efforts to raise the profile of jazz music in Ankara through empowering education and performance programs.

Learn more about the Jazz Society of Turkey

Jazzahead!, Germany

Bremen, Germany-based jazzahead! is the world’s largest jazz trade fair and one of the most significant annual events on the global jazz scene. Set for late April each year, the conference brings together artists, promoters, vendors and other crucial stakeholders from throughout the jazz ecosystem for productive exchanges, performances and exhibitions–with a special focus on showcasing the next generation of jazz luminaries.


Initially conceived as a way for members of the jazz music industry–from bookers and promoters to festival directors and record executives to the artists themselves–to make connections and expand their respective networks, jazzahead! has since evolved into a full-scale jazz and culture festival in and around the German city of Bremen. Now celebrating its 15th edition, the event has hosted showcases of hundreds of rising star artists over the years, including Quiana Lynell (USA), Linda May Han Oh (Australia/Malaysia), Isfar Sarabski (Azerbaijan), Matthew Whitaker (USA), Naïssam Jalal (France), Espen Berg (Norway), Jazzmeia Horn (USA), Petros Klampanis (Greece), Justin Kauflin (USA) and many more. This commitment to celebrating the practice as well as the business of music is part and parcel of the jazzahead! mission to build community, raise awareness and ultimately help jazz survive and thrive in a changing world.

jazzahead! is organized by a team led by Sybille Kornitschky from Messe Bremen, the city’s premier conference and events hub. Under her leadership, together with artistic direction from renowned broadcaster, jazz expert, journalist, and concert presenter Peter Schulze and famed jazz trumpeter Uli Beckerhoff, jazzahead! has experienced rapid and significant growth over its 15-year history, with the most recent edition in 2019 welcoming more than 25,000 visitors and over 3,400 delegates from 64 countries. The festival component includes 40 showcases and more than 100 concerts spread across 30 venues. Yet the event organizers have resolved to maintain the intimate feel that has made it a true destination for the global jazz community. As one jazz journalist put it, “in the business and practice of jazz on the European side of the Atlantic, nearly all roads have led to Bremen.”

“Despite its steady growth, jazzahead! has managed to keep its family character. jazzahead! is not only a trade fair for trade visitors, but also open to the general public–with a program that once a year turns the Hanseatic city of Bremen into a jazz metropolis.”

In response to the ongoing challenges and public health restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s edition of jazzahead! will be presented mostly virtually under the evocative theme “Close Together From Afar.” In March, festival organizers announced an official partnership with International Jazz Day, including a joint program on April 29 and 30 dedicated to Jazz Day. As part of the planned agenda, the 2021 event will open with remarks from German Minister of State for Culture and Media, Prof. Monika Grütters and a special greeting from acclaimed vocalist, actress and multi-GRAMMY Award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater, as official representative of the Herbie Hancock Institute and International Jazz Day. jazzahead! 2021 will also include a series of free artistic programming in honor of International Jazz Day, notably virtual performances by the band of German trumpeter Markus Stockhausen and Canadian pianist Kris Davis, who topped the 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll.

International Jazz Day is honored to welcome jazzahead! as an official partner for the 10th Anniversary Celebration. Check back on this page for exclusive video content from jazzahead!’s 2021 program.

Video: The Shai Maestro Trio performs at jazzahead! in 2014, one of the many showcases organized by the festival to spotlight excellent young talent from across the globe.

John Taylor, USA

John Taylor is an artist manager, booking agent, digital media entrepreneur and impresario with a passion for spreading awareness of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s abiding relationship with jazz music. As Taylor notes, “When someone mentions Oklahoma or Tulsa, it brings to mind country, rock, or indie music, but jazz has deep roots here.” Along with Taylor Entertainment Group, his event management and artist booking business, Taylor has been a committed International Jazz Day organizer since 2016.


Tulsa Jazz, Taylor’s nonprofit jazz promotion organization, began as an online calendar to help local artists get the word out about their performances. Since then, TulsaJazz.com has expanded to include directories of active area musicians and music venues, and promotes gigs in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City through social media and regular e-blasts. The site touts its positioning at the forefront of Tulsa’s recent jazz renaissance, which saw the city move from only “a few places that regularly offered live jazz to now having 20-30 live events per week and a growing, active, vibrant jazz environment with national recognition.

“I want the world to see how this wonderful music can bring unity to people from different countries and backgrounds…that it’s possible to truly come together for a common cause. We need this in the world right now.”

Taylor sees International Jazz Day as an opportunity to educate his community – and the world – about his state’s often overlooked jazz heritage: “There have been several influential jazz performers from Oklahoma such as Hal Singer, Barney Kessel, Jay McShann, Chet Baker, Jimmy Rushing, Howard McGhee, and Frank Mantooth, just to name a few. Jazz is a big part of our state and our heritage, and we believe being involved in events like International Jazz Day will help keep it that way.”

In 2017, Tulsa Jazz organized its first ever International Jazz Day celebration, helping to coordinate several events at venues throughout the city. A highlight of the program was a special concert by the Micheal Rappe Quartet, a “Vegas-style” jazz group, at the historic Tulsa Spotlight Theatre. Proceeds from the performance benefitted efforts to restore the 1920’s-era theater building. Tying into the selection of Havana, Cuba as the 2017 Global Host City, local jazz spot Sisserou’s hosted an evening of Latin jazz by the Havana 405 trio.

Through the lens of International Jazz Day, Taylor views jazz music’s still-limited popularity with optimism: “Right now, jazz is a growth music. By that I mean we have an opportunity to reach a whole untapped generation with this wonderful music, and International Jazz Day is an incredible awareness tool.”

“I want the world to see how this wonderful music can bring unity to people from different countries and backgrounds…that it’s possible to truly come together for a common cause. We need this in the world right now.”

Jorge Luis Lardone, Argentina

Jorge Luis Lardone is a photographer and retired producer, concert organizer and journalist from Argentina’s Mendoza Province, the heart of Argentine wine country. The son of an optometrist, Lardone developed an early interest in photography and jazz and went on to showcase his shots of jazz musicians in more than 100 exhibitions within Argentina and internationally. He is the founder of the nonprofit cultural association Jazz Club Gato Barbieri and the Festival Internacional Fotojazzeando, a notable jazz festival for years held in Lardone’s native Mendoza. A longtime friend of International Jazz Day, Lardone’s most recent celebration featured a performance by local Mendoza jazz legends Roque Crescitelli, Mario Sosa, Jordi Clua and David Reyes.


What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Jazz is a universal language and to me, it is the music that best expresses the need of human beings to live in freedom. It is also the soundtrack of my life; I have been listening to jazz since I was four years old (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Erroll Garner, Jonah Jones, Benny Goodman) 64 years ago, and I will die listening to jazz.

In my community jazz does not mean much. It is a very closed, nationalist and uneducated community. There are many people who identify jazz as the “music of the American imperialists.” Yes, believe it or not. However, there is a modest activity with a pair of festivals a year. Unfortunately in the last 100 years very few internationally-known musicians have played in the city.

“Jazz is a universal language and to me, it is the music that best expresses the need of human beings to live in freedom.”

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
It is a good way to propagate jazz in our community, which is so distant from the origins of this music. Jazz Club Gato Barbieri is a non-profit cultural organization that has worked since 1990 (born as Jazz Club San Rafael), and for us it is very important to organize the very first event in Mendoza celebrating International Jazz Day.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
I hope that gradually more people will enter the fascinating world of jazz and that in the future there is a real jazz community in the city. Also, I hope that great jazz world musicians will play in Mendoza.

Juan Guivin, Dominican Republic

Juan Guivin is a guitarist and music educator originally from Lima, Peru who currently resides in Sosúa, Dominican Republic. He previously served as the Music Program Coordinator for the DREAM Project, an educational initiative targeting at-risk children in the town of Cabarete.


Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
We join the celebration with the profound belief that jazz is a genre in which the entire world belongs. Knowing that we are joining hundreds of people around the world makes us happy, and we feel that our corner and our community forms part of something global–is something special. We celebrate this day of jazz because we feel a commitment to show our community the beauty of this genre as well as its message of unity and peace, and because there is no better way to be close to people than through music (jazz).

What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Jazz for me is freedom, identity, and community. These are words essential to my personal vocabulary as an educator; through jazz I promote these concepts that I know can change people’s lives. Many of the students I teach have not only a history, but also a desire to become better. They watch the days pass around them and yearn for a better answer than what they hear. When we speak about those things, I always use jazz as an example. I tell them:

“Poverty can be a reality with which you grow up, but it should not be something with which you always live. You can be free; you can use your history to encounter reasons for continuing and becoming better; you must never forget who you are, where you’re going, and especially that you must always help others. You should be successful but never lose your identity, and every moment fight so that this legacy might be transmitted: Freedom in order to improve yourself, Identity in order to go far whilst knowing who you are, and Community in order to construct a better society through solidarity.”

What do you hope for in celebrating this Day?
As a social project with the objective of using music as a force for change, the history and message of jazz…and its legacy to the world allows us to win over the community and assert to our students that jazz education–the interpretation of jazz and an understanding of its process of growth over time–is something that can be gotten only through perseverance and nerve. In this way we can better impact our students.

Kurt Wilson, Dubai

Kurt Wilson is a jazz guitarist and member of the Dubai Jazz Collective, a well-known musical aggregation active in the UAE.


What does jazz music mean to you? For your community?
Jazz music to me is special as it allows musicians the freedom to create their own signature sounds with their instruments, whether a certain thumb slap/finger pluck on bass, or holding notes on trumpet, and recognizable melodic styles on keys, all the while challenging as this requires discipline, commitment and practice.

The community benefits in many ways but in particular when music is included as part of the high school system curriculum. It is scientific fact that children who play music (especially jazz band) excel in math and science, have a higher chance of graduating and going on to university, thus returning to their community as an educated workforce.

“By presenting live jazz and blues to a new audience through an international forum such as International Jazz Day, I am confident that this will help to build a strong following of new jazz fans.”

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
It is an opportunity to share the message and mission of International Jazz Day to a demographic that for the most part have little or no exposure to jazz music, nor how jazz music transcends language, politics or religious boundaries.

By presenting live jazz and blues to a new audience through an international forum such as International Jazz Day, I am confident that this will help to build a strong following of new jazz fans and in doing so will influence more venues in Dubai and other Emirates to present live jazz and blues on a consistent basis.

What would you like to see happen through this day–short term and long term?
Short term is to generate awareness of International Jazz Day and the many benefits to all societies that jazz offers.

Long term is to establish a venue to present live jazz and blues on a permanent basis. Establish an annual international jazz and blues festival. Establish more music educational offerings in both private and public schools. And finally, to lobby the government to ease restrictions on musicians’ abilities to perform on any stage at will…which will promote improvisation, the life blood of jazz and blues music.

Lana Sorrento, Italy

Lana Sorrento is a writer, traveler and event producer based in Capri, Italy. A veteran concert presenter who has worked with jazz musicians across the United States and Europe, Sorrento curates a range of live music programming in her adopted home, including MiddleSea Jazz, which she describes as “committed to awakening and revealing a deeper meaning for jazz and artistic life.” Sorrento has presented International Jazz Day programming since 2018.


Organizer Lana Sorrento sees International Jazz Day as much more than an opportunity to celebrate great live music. When the photographer, world traveler, charity administrator, producer, author and music lover curated her first Jazz Day event in 2018, she immediately felt part of something universal.

Sorrento’s initiation as an International Jazz Day organizer took place in the Mediterranean country of Malta, on the island of Gozo. It was an auspicious moment for Malta, whose capital, Valletta, had recently been named Europe’s Capital of Culture for 2018. As Sorrento notes, the selection “attracted a tourist population greater than the country’s resident population. I considered it a good place for a truly international event.”

The Gozo program, which Sorrento produced with her concert production company MiddleSea Jazz, featured an international trio of musicians performing an improvised, unrehearsed set for patrons at a local restaurant. The setting allowed attendees to learn about the improvisational foundations of jazz music. “One of my goals was to let the audience gain an understanding of what occurs when jazz musicians come together and walk on stage without ever playing together previously,” Sorrento says. The concert emphasized casual, personal interaction between the audience and musicians, and listeners were invited to observe the musicians discussing tune selections and arrangements prior to the show.

In addition to introducing her community to the unique entertainment of live jazz, Sorrento is excited to promote the music’s values—a mission that lies at the heart of International Jazz Day. Writes Sorrento, “Jazz is the only music form which is not solely from one race or nationality, but rather, it is from a combination of individuals of different races, heritages, and traditions. Even 100 years ago in cities throughout the world where individuals of different races, ethnicities, and economic classes segregated themselves, jazz became a means [of] blending these world citizens together. I believe jazz is an international language, art and a symbol of global unity that should be expressed to all people.”

Thanks to Lana Sorrento for her commitment to this special music and its positive message! Be sure to learn more about her work at selfcreatinglife.com or middleseajazz.com.

Leyla Efendiyeva, Azerbaijan

Leyla Efendiyeva is a journalist and concert presenter who serves as Director of the Baku Jazz Festival and Editor in Chief of Jazz Dunyasi Magazine, Azerbaijan’s first printed periodical on jazz. Efendiyeva and her husband, the renowned Azeri saxophonist Rain Sultanov, have been active participants in International Jazz Day through the Baku Jazz Festival since 2015.


Leyla Efendiyeva, Director of the Baku Jazz Festival, is passionate about informing the world of the deep and impactful history of jazz in Azerbaijan, and Baku in particular. Situated at the crossroads between East and West, Baku jazz orchestras performed as far back as the 1940s and ’50s. Despite the difficulties of the Soviet period, when this music was forbidden and musicians who played jazz were imprisoned, it survived and its popularity grew.

In the ’70s, Baku was called the Mecca of Jazz. A blend of jazz and ethnic music called jazz-mugham developed in Azerbaijan, and this musical style has become very popular among listeners all over the world. Today, an annual jazz festival in Baku brings together tens of thousands of spectators and hundreds of musicians.

“Every year during jam sessions at jazz festivals, musicians from various countries who speak different languages begin to understand each other while performing on the same stage. They find mutual understanding through music and are able to connect.”

Efendiyeva notes that it is especially important for the people of Azerbaijan to be part of International Jazz Day, so they have an opportunity to share their jazz traditions and history with people all over the world. In 2015, International Jazz Day in Baku was commemorated with a concert in which Azerbaijan musicians and visiting musicians from around the world performed together. The event also included a presentation of the book “History of Jazz in Azerbaijan” by Rain Sultanov. This book contains valuable historical data and photos, and has become part of the UNESCO library.

According to Efendiyeva, “Undoubtedly, culture is the way to solve many of the world’s problems. When jazz is performed, people of various professions and societies are united. The music gives them an opportunity to understand each other very well. The same happens with representatives of different nationalities. Every year during jam sessions at jazz festivals, musicians from various countries who speak different languages begin to understand each other while performing on the same stage. They find mutual understanding through music and are able to connect.” Efendiyeva believes jazz is the best form of communication between people of different nationalities and races, noting that during her many years of organizing jazz festivals, she has become friends with people of many different cultures. As she puts it, “That is a real unity.”

MAMA JAZ, Mauritius

MAMA JAZ is a month-long festival based in Port Louis, Mauritius dedicated to creative music and jazz. Led by music promoter and cultural impresario Gavin Poonoosamy and staffed by a dedicated team of creatives, music educators and producers, since 2016 MAMA JAZ has been making its mark as an active International Jazz Day partner in the Southern Hemisphere.


MAMA JAZ has been building awareness around International Jazz Day celebrations for Mauritian music lovers since 2016, and its ambitions extend far beyond April 30. Under the leadership of Administrator, Technical Director & Producer Gavin Poonoosamy, along with a host of co-producers, local and international partners and sponsors, in just a few short years MAMA JAZ has grown from an idea into a movement that confidently bills itself as “the only jazz month in the Southern Hemisphere.” Now a highly-anticipated moment on Mauritius’ cultural calendar, the festival’s reach has grown by leaps and bounds, in 2019 alone impacting hundreds of thousands of Mauritians through national television broadcasts, packed concerts and free educational initiatives.

“We celebrate music and jazz every single day in different ways at a human level.”

– Gavin Poonoosamy

Initially envisaged as Mauritius’ major celebration of International Jazz Day, the 2016 edition featured 42 Mauritian artists performing over 70 hours of music across 50 venues. The project was a smashing success, with the week’s activities attracting more than 5,000 festivalgoers. Starting in 2017, the organizers scaled up with a full month of activities spanning a suite of public educational workshops, concerts featuring 70 Mauritian and international artists in a dozen local venues, and telecasts to a sizable portion of the island nation’s 1.3 million inhabitants.

In addition to introducing Mauritians to world-class musicians hailing from Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, Mozambique, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, the United States and beyond, MAMA JAZ makes a point to highlight “the creative genius of Mauritius” through live performances throughout the month of April. Complementing these “analog” efforts, beginning in 2018 MAMA JAZ co-launched a podcast series, Nepetalakton, which pays tribute to “jazz and its influence on other sounds.” Nepetalakton’s inaugural episode was released on April 30, 2018 in honor of International Jazz Day, and showcased a brilliant set of jazz-influenced house music curated by Canadian DJ Lexis. The 2021 mix highlighted renowned French-born DJ Deheb.

The festival’s website makes it clear that MAMA JAZ is no mere collection of concerts; rather, the initiative is grandly conceived as “an adventure in human musical culture.” Indeed, as founder Poonoosamy explains, the dedicated efforts behind MAMA JAZ are born not out of a quest for recognition or financial gain, but from a desire to foster human connection. “We celebrate music and jazz every single day in different ways at a human level,” says Poonoosamy. “To have an international day dedicated to jazz provides yet another incentive. Focusing global joint efforts on one impact makes sense to us, just as much as connecting with the various jazz [and] music energy sources is exciting.”

Manuela Rippo, Italy

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Music is a social collector. It ties generations and cultures. Jazz in particular is born ‘at the bottom’, but it unites people of any kind, race and social class. In Lombardy, jazz is not only successful, but it strongly belongs to our regional culture. Hundreds of places offer jazz concerts by famous and emergent artists; the famous liutists of Cremona are known all over the world and the Conservatory in Milan offers plenty of jazz courses.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

Because it is an important occasion to gather artists, experts, fans but also jazz ‘amateurs’ to get to know and celebrate the evolution, the main players and features of this phenomenon, that can not be defined simply ‘musical’. In history, the jazz culture has stimulated artistic innovations and new forms of expression, by promoting understanding and mutual tolerance.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

The objective is to focus on the relationship between youth and jazz, and to increase the involvement of young people toward a kind of music that is based on improvisation, collaboration and trust in the other components of the band.

Maria Elena Gratereaux, Dominican Republic

1. What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Jazz music is an amazing power that helps our community to create a better humanity and contribute to the child’s intellectual development. Actually, Fedujazz, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival Educational Foundation, was founded to continue the educational goals of the music festival of the same name moving from sporadic led workshops to providing free quality music education throughout the year. Jazz music clearly fulfills our main objective which is to generate social change through music: studies have proven that children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school and pursue further education.

2. Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

The whole world understands music no matter what language you speak. Music connects us as citizens of the world and gives us the opportunity to relate as equals in understanding each other without speaking the same language. Celebrating the International Jazz Day is important to promote the values and virtues of jazz as an educational tool for peace and unity.

3. What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

Our event JAZZ PARA TODOS wants to celebrate unity. Music education of our students has a clear formative intention but children also need to create emotional ties among friends and family. Hence, our main goal is to use music as an entity of social change where also parents and other relatives are invited. By envolving the whole family, the results are rewarding bringing us closer to generating social change and betterment through music. We get to know children’s families and that creates a great community spirit. The celebration is a powerful tool that engages students, families and teachers.

Maria Elena Gratereaux is the President of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival Educational Foundation (FEDUJAZZ)

Mariano Abello, Nepal
  • Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Participating Years: 2012 – present
  • Organization: Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory School of Music
  • Event focus: Performances by artists and students, cultural exchange and charity

In 2007, Mariano Abello moved to Kathmandu, Nepal and used all his savings to establish the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory (KJC). Founding a school seems an unlikely career choice for Abello, a self-described “bad student” and high school dropout from Madrid. But Abello found inspiration in his love for music, instilled in him by his Argentinian parents from an early age. After moving to the United States to pursue a career as a musician, he learned English, finished high school and earned a BA in Jazz Studies and an MA in Music—both summa cum laude—from Florida Atlantic University. He somehow also found time to perform in multiple groups and start a Jazz Summer Camp, which he went on to direct for the next four years, at the University. “Then” remarks Abello, “I knew that I was not stupid as many teachers suggested to my parents.”

Having found his own way through music, Abello aims for the KJC to empower music students to achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens. The Conservatory, which is staffed by professional musicians and educators from Nepal and around the world, as well as visiting faculty, offers courses in music from both the Western and Asian canons. The school operates a state-of-the-art recording studio—home of the KatJazz record label—and organizes musical events bringing local and visiting musicians together with the community. The school has raised funds to provide more than 500 music scholarships to young Nepali musicians.

The KJC has celebrated International Jazz Day every year since 2012. Every edition has seen steady growth across the board, whether in the number of performers, the types of activities presented, or the level of patronage from national and international institutions.

The KJC’s dedication to recognizing jazz and its important role is most clearly exemplified in its 2015 International Jazz Day celebration. Just five days before the planned event, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people and causing massive destruction to homes and UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the country. Forced to postpone their event, the KJC mounted a heroic effort to organize another program just three months later. With help from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the UNESCO Office in Nepal, and the local American Embassy, a rescheduled Jazz Day concert took place on July 30. The event featured American trumpeter and educator Billy Buss, who performed, conducted educational workshops at KJC, and participated in community outreach programs for Nepalis affected by the earthquake.

Since then, the KJC has made a strong recovery, and continues to host international musicians of note for its regular programs and International Jazz Day celebrations alike. In recent editions, the Conservatory hosted musicians from Turin, Italy and presented a weeklong, comprehensive program of events in Kathmandu and Patan that included concerts, workshops, a street art intervention, film screenings and a charity event.

The KJC continues to thrive under the leadership of Mariano Abello and his dedicated staff. International Jazz Day is proud to have KJC as a valued partner each year.

 

Maya Dimerli, Executive Director of “Master-Jam Fest”, Ukraine

1)  What does jazz music mean to you?

First of all, jazz means to me Ella Fitzgerald’s unforgettable voice, incredible improvisations, freedom of expression of the slightest shades of feelings. I was fourteen when I found a vinyl record in a music shop for the first time. I heard Ella’s name but I had never listened to her performing before. Then I bought the record. I was so impressed so I listened to it non-stop over and over again till the midnight. Ella was my first jazz touch. So, it was an experience of real freedom and happiness of self-expression that was presented to me by someone else. Ella opened for me this fantastic door into freedom and happiness through jazz.

To your community?

It is obvious for Odesa jazz community that this outstanding genre of music is a source of cooperation and creativity in action. It supports and develops the everyday life. The more jazz the better!

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day?

Every movement that leads to understanding and mutual respect among people deserves to be supported and spread. People who play, sing and listen to jazz are pretty good company for communication and celebration.

Why is it important?

Nowadays the world is facing a crisis. The mankind may overcome it only in collaboration, creativity, trust and joy. All these things are jazz!

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

In the short term, I would like to see one more person who for the first time will discover and will be really into jazz music through our concert. It would be great! In the long term, I would like to see a new discipline in educational institutions, for instance, improvisational (or maybe, jazz) thinking. I believe it could help people to become more positive, intelligent, conscious, confident and respectful to each other.

Michael Linney, TNGC Radio, United Kingdom

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

To me jazz is much more than just a sound. Jazz is a feeling, an emotion. Too many people try to categorise jazz. They say it either is or isn’t jazz depending purely on a set of out-dated and purist criteria. Jazz is bigger and better than that. Jazz is embraced globally in different sounds, shapes and forms.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

International Jazz Day is intended to raise awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people. Many governments, civil society organisations, educational institutions, and private citizens currently engaged in the promotion of jazz music will embrace the opportunity to foster greater appreciation not only for the music but also for the contribution it can make to building more inclusive societies.

A quote from UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova:
“Jazz gave music to the courage that drove the civil rights movement in the United States, and it continues to provide inspiration to millions of people across the world, seeking freedom, fighting for respect and human dignity.”

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease.
TNGCRadio.com would like to encourage new and current listeners how this genre of music can unlock hidden positive prospects to everyone.

Jazz can boost the immune function and particular types of Jazz can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to Jazz can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response.

Jazz (music) is not just good for the soul; it’s good for the body as well.

Mikhail Friedlin, Ukraine

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
Jazz music is an example of sincerity in relations between people; it is a way of self-expression that allows you to be understood by any interlocutor without language borders, a way of thinking – the spontaneity inherent in jazz music being an example of remaining within the present moment and experiencing it in its entirety.

For the jazz community of Odessa and Ukraine in general, jazz is an important component of the cultural life, a powerful uniting and consolidating force, an integral element of communication between people, a way to feel free. Odessa inhabitants jokingly say that Odessa is the birthplace of jazz, and they will not let jazz die in its homeland. But this joke manifests their love, admiration and respect for this unique kind of musical art.

2) What do you hope for in celebrating this Day?
It is a feast for all, performers and spectators both. We hope that the harmonies that will sound this day will help the citizens of our city to tune in to peace and creativity. It will be nice if the global jazz community knows about our event. And we will be happy to follow the celebration of the International Jazz Day in the world.

3) What should people know about your activity for Jazz Day with the backdrop of your country/community?
Our activities are aimed at increasing the number of links between musicians from different countries of the world. For example, 320 jazz musicians from 53 countries were registered in the second season of “Master-Jam”. In the context of the mission of Jazz Day on the promotion of intercultural dialogue among peoples, we can evaluate our contribution as significant and innovative.

Ministry of Culture and Sport, Georgia

Name: George Aptsiauri, Ministry of Culture and Sport of Georgia
Location: Tbilisi, Georgia
Years active: 2014 – present
Event Focus: intercultural dialogue; education

Tell us a little about your organization’s mission:

The Ministry of Culture and Sport of Georgia is a governmental agency in charge of regulating activities related to the preservation of Georgian culture and its cultural monuments, as well as activities related to sports and youth development.

Why does your organization celebrate International Jazz Day?

One of the top priority of the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Georgia is to organize, support and promote major international events. It is very important to celebrate this powerful day, since jazz has been not only one of [the country’s] favorite musical genres but also a lifestyle of Georgians, with a very rich history and a promising future, including organizing the very first Jazz Festival during the Soviet Union in Tbilisi in 1978. By celebrating International Jazz Day, we do not only celebrate a great and a strong musical genre and history but we also celebrate democracy, freedom, peace, love, understanding, tolerance, teamwork and individualism. To celebrate Jazz in a Jazzy way, it is crucial to have freedom, democracy, peace, love and the atmosphere where you feel happiness, safety, progress. Jazz teaches a lot so it also has an educational side which is very important especially for young generations.

Tell us about a favorite memory from International Jazz Day:

Having legendary bassist Ron Carter and his Trio in Tbilisi, Georgia at the Rustaveli Theater on International Jazz Day 2015.

Mladí Ladí, Czech Republic
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
  • Participating Years: 2017 – present
  • Event focus: Promoting opportunities for young artists; creating accessible routes to art for the public

Mladí Ladí is one of the most exciting live jazz events in Europe. Not only does the decade-old festival boast a lineup of top up-and-coming talent, including such rising stars as Andreya Triana, Oran Etkin, Moon Hooch and Cory Henry, but the organizer, Prague-based nonprofit Nerudný Fest.cz, is genuinely committed to promoting accessibility across all of its activities. Add to that the beautiful historic setting of central Prague, and you have a recipe for success.

Founded in 2007 by high school chums, Nerudný aims “to support young artists in all cultural spheres, with an emphasis on the development of their skills,” says representative Inka Jurkova. Mladí Ladí takes a three-pronged approach to this strategic focus, promoting inclusivity throughperformances, artist development initiatives andeducation.The festival’s diverse slate of talent gives special consideration to artists on the cutting edge of contemporary and experimental jazz, presenting “yet unknown but valuable artists” to the listening public. Each edition features a special “Jazz Fruit” competition for young jazz bands, with the winner offered a recording contract as well as a cash prize and other incentives. And festival participants, from young children to the performers themselves, can benefit from unique educational opportunities including introductory jazz workshops and professional development sessions led by distinguished international experts.

This effort to empower the next generation is characteristic of all of Nerudný’s events, from the flagship Mladí Ladí—which highlights rising stars on the contemporary jazz scene—to the successful Praha Žije Hudboufestival, which promotes the revitalization of Prague’s busking culture. The group’s programming is geared toward maximizing impact, whether by offering performances free of charge or introducing little-known artists in a high-profile public forum. Nerudný’s efforts have yielded impressive results, with thousands of patrons attending their open-air events each year.

Clarinetist Oran Etkin performs with his group for the audience at Mladí ladí jazz as part of International Jazz Day 2018 celebrations in Prague.

Nerudný dedicated its first official International Jazz Day celebration in 2017 with a concert featuring renowned Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous at the Žižkov district’s Palác Akropolis culture house. This inaugural program showcased the organizer’s ongoing commitment to public access, with webcasts on Facebook and YouTube Live, and a live simulcast on regional public radio.

Fast forward just two years, and Nerudný’s efforts on behalf of International Jazz Day have truly blossomed. The 2019 edition of Mladí Ladí, organized in April to coincide with International Jazz Day, took place at the famed Karlovo náměstí (Charles Square) in central Prague and boasted over 10,000 attendees. Recent educational initiatives, including Mladí Ladí for Kidsworkshops, led by accomplished educators like American multi-instrumentalist Oran Etkin, impacted more than 2,000 young students. According to organizers, the energy at these events provides a fitting complement to the global theme of International Jazz Day. Notes Jurkova: “We are very happy to be part of the Jazz Day family because it brings a worldwide vibe and sense of unity to the celebration in Prague. We believe jazz can improve people’s lives on many levels…we believe it can stimulate your brain, make you feel happier and the improvisation, which is a core of jazz music, supports cooperation.”

Moreira Chonguica, Mozambique

Name: Moreira Chonguica
Location: Maputo, Mozambique
Years Active: 2016 – present
Event Focus: intercultural dialogue, culture of peace, education

Why do you celebrate International Jazz Day?
As a jazz musician myself, I love the concept of fellow jazz musicians all over the globe coming together to play on this particular day. I also believe highlighting this day all over the world has helped raise the profile of jazz as a music genre and I am proud that UNESCO has recognised us as an organising partner to help develop this event in Mozambique.

Tell us about a favorite memory from International Jazz Day:
There are many but we celebrate it in Maputo as a family day, when children come with their parents and sit and listen to beautiful jazz sounds performed by young and not-so-young people in one of our beautiful parks. Last year we had weather issues on the the actual day and had to move it a week later, the year before we were worried about wind, but still families came out to enjoy the day.

How do you think jazz can improve people’s lives?
Jazz is a unifying music genre. It has been around for a long time and different generations have different ideas about what they like about the genre. That’s what’s appealing about jazz – it crosses generations. Jazz requires discipline to perform and also to listen. It also engenders respect to the performer and the audience which is a value that is neglected in today’s busy world.

Movimiento Jazz a la calle, Uruguay

Jazz a la Calle is a non-profit organization founded to support community-based music instruction and teacher training in its hometown of Mercedes, Uruguay. True to its name, which in Spanish translates to “Jazz in the Street,” the organization strives to create opportunities for the public to engage with jazz music, whether through its monthly performance series, regular clinics and workshops, or the annual “Encuentro Internacional de Músicos” (International Musicians’ Encounter). Jazz a la Calle recently partnered with the nearby Universidad Tecnológica del Uruguay to enhance its educational and community outreach offerings.


“With music, we celebrate unity and an approach centered around diversity. Through jazz we are united even in distinct areas of our planet.”

What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?
We think of jazz not as a style or musical genre, but as one of the world’s most highly evolved ways to approach music. This approach contributes to the respectful development of ethnic musics and generates an attitude towards life that is applicable to the everyday tasks of any community.

Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
The foundation and creation of International Jazz Day have resulted in a strong affirmation of our organization’s reason for being. For our institution it has been and continues to be very difficult to propagate in our community, which is so distant from the origins of jazz, the philosophical concepts which define this music. The fact that our movement is now associated with a current of universal thought reinforces the validity of our mission to bring quality music to all possible areas–including in public; hence the name “Jazz a la Calle” (Jazz in the Street).

What do you hope for in celebrating this Day?
With music, we celebrate unity and an approach centered around diversity. Through jazz we are united even in distinct areas of our planet. We celebrate so that the hard work done by Jazz a la Calle for so long, affecting hundreds of people in our community, might start to be seen as a credible option for social change.

Music of Tom Hoffmann – West Coast Jazz, USA

Location: Mariposa, California, USA
Years active: 2012 – present
Event focus: Performance, education, community outreach

Music of Tom Hoffmann – West Coast Jazz is a nonprofit organization based in Central California that seeks to “present, perform and preserve” the music of late multi-instrumentalist and composer Tom Hoffmann as well as others from the Mariposa music scene. By organizing and sponsoring concerts, festivals and other community-based programming, Music of Tom Hoffmann (MTH) provides area residents with musical inspiration and cultural enrichment that resonate far beyond this town of just over 2,000 people.

MTH founder Sharon Hoffmann views International Jazz Day as an opportunity not only to bring world-class entertainment to her fellow citizens, but also to promote community cohesion and economic growth. She notes, “Arts can bring a community many benefits, from fostering local pride to creating opportunities for recreation, or even mitigating cultural or racial tensions…[they] can also serve as a powerful economic engine, bringing needed jobs and dollars into communities. We strive for these things and more.”

Inspired by Tom Hoffman’s career as an accomplished music educator, MTH strives to engage with students whenever possible, curating educational workshops and promoting the “collaborative and unifying qualities” of jazz music. The organization also uses its programming to raise funds in support of music education, with a focus on opportunities for youth.

An International Jazz Day partner since the celebration’s inaugural year, MTH recruits jazz musicians from nearby Merced and Manteca, California for performances at local clubs, restaurants and public venues, bringing players like guitarist Mikel Soria, trumpeter Greg Christiansen, and bassist John Ady to area audiences. Partnerships with municipal authorities and local business owners have produced programs at Mariposa High School and Mariposa Arts Park, an outdoor green space built to host free concerts. In spite of scant funding and an all-volunteer team, the scale of MTH’s celebrations has continued to grow in recent years, bringing in large-format groups like the Creole Jazz Kings and the Ernie Bucio Little Big Band and yielding a collaboration with the University of California Merced.

In 2018, the organization’s efforts culminated in its biggest Jazz Day celebration yet with the launch of the Mariposa Jazz Fest at the town’s high school. This free event featured the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West’s Commanders Jazz Ensemble. The 18-piece group performed compositions by guitarist Pat Metheny, saxophonist Willie Maiden, and the group’s namesake, Tom Hoffmann.

For MTH, the most compelling reason to celebrate International Jazz Day lies in the music’s positive message. When asked why she continues to organize, year after year, founder Sharon Hoffmann replies simply, “To bring joy to others.”

Mutual Musicians Foundation, USA

Location: Kansas City, MO
Participating years: 2017 – present
Event focus: Performance, community engagement

Since 1930, musicians on the Kansas City scene have met at the Mutual Musicians Foundation (MMF) building on Highland Avenue, in the heart of the city’s historic 18th& Vine corridor, to jam late into the night with friends and colleagues. The Friday and Saturday evening sessions are the stuff of legend, counting jazz greats including Charlie Parker and Jay McShann among its diverse alumni. Local lore has it that Parker and bebop innovator Dizzy Gillespie had their first conversation at the MMF.

The building’s roots go back to the 1917 founding of the African-American Musicians Union, which until 1970 was the union’s base of operations and later became a social club for musicians and fans. This deep history, coupled with a designation as one of only three National Historic Landmarks in Kansas City, make MMF an important part of the newly-named UNESCO City of Music’s cultural heritage.

According to program director James McGee, MMF is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and advancement of jazz, with a focus on preserving and developing Kansas City’s rich musical heritage. In addition to its storied, late-night/early-morning jam sessions, the facility also functions as a living museum, with rehearsal spaces for members, a classroom for education programs with visiting students, an online radio station organized by McGee, and dozens of photographs featuring jazz royalty who have graced the stage.

MMF’s inaugural International Jazz Day festivities in 2017, which coincided with the launch of its yearlong centennial celebration, reflected this wide-ranging commitment to history and culture. Organizers hosted a number of special series, including an “Art of Jazz-Hop” education program on the links between jazz and hip-hop, and a Sunday evening edition of MMF’s signature jam session. As program director McGee recalls, “The turnout was great and gave us an opportunity to educate the community about the history and significance of our organization. And, most important, it was a great jam session!”

For MMF, celebrating International Jazz Day goes beyond spreading the word about its longtime presence in Kansas City’s cultural ecosystem. Its events are also a means of showcasing the harmony and positivity that come out of playing music together. “To the listener,” notes McGee, “jazz stimulates the mind, body and soul. To the musician, mastering an instrument…and playing in harmony with fellow bandmates manifest a creative space that allows the musicians to push boundaries and expand their own awareness, thereby finding new ways to elevate the universal language of music.”

Nelisa Lawton, Swaziland

Location: Mbabane, Swaziland
Years active: 2012 – present
Event focus: Performance, education, youth

Nelisa Lawton and her husband founded event management company Legendary Events 14 years ago. Both jazz enthusiasts, their work sourcing entertainment for corporate events eventually inspired them to begin producing their own concerts. Expanding upon Swaziland’s nascent jazz scene, they introduced local audiences to world-class artists including Dr. Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo, McCoy Mrubata, Paul Hanmer, Tiale Makhene, and many more.

The two quickly decided to use these events to create value for the surrounding community, tapping the visiting artists for educational sessions with aspiring young musicians. “Whenever possible,” says Lawton, “we arrange for them to hold much-needed workshops for local musicians, and hopefully collaborate on a song.”

Encouraged by their experiences with Legendary Events, Lawton, her husband and some friends founded a nonprofit organization, the Into Music Society (IMS), dedicated to music education projects that empower Swazi musicians. IMS aims to provide resources that facilitate learning experiences and create opportunities for young artists to perform and share music, building careers for themselves in the process. Consistent with its commitment to raising the profile of Swaziland’s home-grown creative community, in March 2018 IMS announced the release of a compilation CD, Swazi Vibes Vol. 1, highlighting the top 15 artists in Swaziland across all genres.

IMS has organized events every year, beginning with the first International Jazz Day in 2012. Titled “Youth Jazz Sessions,” the annual event focuses on recruiting and engaging with young people. Participants learn a selection of jazz standards, which they then perform for an audience backed by a professional ensemble. Performances sometimes incorporate traditional Swazi instruments like the makhoyane. The Swaziland Theatre Club, one of the oldest arts venues in Mbabane, has housed the IMS Jazz Day celebration for the past six years. After years of growth, today students ask to be included in the annual event, and IMS easily packs the Youth Jazz Sessions event to capacity with proud parents and community members.

Recent concerts have continued the tradition of students playing and singing jazz songs, with a focus on Afro-jazz. In 2018, IMS also included a performance by the jazz ensemble from the music department of nearby Swaziland Christian University. The concert was dedicated to the late South African trumpeter, composer, activist and International Jazz Day All-Star Hugh Masekela, with participants performing some of “Bra Hugh’s” best-known compositions. As Lawton noted in an interview with the Swazi Observer, “Together with American jazz greats Herbie Hancock and the late Al Jarreau, Hugh was instrumental in setting up and performing in all the main International Jazz Day concerts around the world…we have been inundated with requests for a tribute concert from local Hugh fans, and thus decided that Jazz Day would be the best day since it was close to Hugh’s heart.”

 

Nelson Gonzales, Philippines
  • Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
  • Participating Years: 2014 – present
  • Organization: Tago Jazz Café
  • Event focus: Showcase Filipino jazz artists, jazz education, art, culture and unity

The Tago Jazz Café, a small, independent music venue in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, has enthusiastically participated in International Jazz Day since 2014. Tago means “hidden” in the Tagalog language, and true to its name, the Tago Café is tucked away in a relatively secluded area of Quezon City. Tago’s owner, Nelson Gonzales, didn’t plan it that way; he came into possession of the building—his late grandmother’s house—by chance, and seized the opportunity to start his own place. If Facebook reviews are any indication, finding Tago has become some sort of rite of passage for jazz fans. They conclude that, while it isn’t easy to find, journeying to Tago is certainly worth the effort.

Most people hear about Tago Jazz Café by word of mouth or through social media. If one is searching online for live jazz in Manila, Tago will pop up as one of the very few places in the city where live jazz and open jam sessions are regularly on the docket. It hasn’t always been that way. When Gonzales was growing up, Manila had a thriving jazz culture with home-grown musicians and many live venues. But for a variety of reasons, many of the jazz venues have closed, limiting the performance opportunities for the local community of seasoned Filipino jazz musicians. And while Filipinos are known the world over for their musical talents, the country’s younger generation has had limited exposure to jazz—even in university music programs.

Gonzales’ goal is to change this trend. He aims to rebuild a healthy and viable jazz scene in the Philippines and provide an affordable venue for young audiences. He books local and international musicians and hosts open jam sessions, which attract amateur and professional musicians alike. As reviewers have noted, a large percentage of Tago audiences seem to be musicians, and one should not be surprised to see a patron from a neighboring table making his or her way to the bandstand. Gonzales reports that international jazz musicians, whether playing in the Philippines or passing through on regional gigs, often pop into Tago, and sometimes jam with local musicians.

Gonzales recognizes that young, inexperienced Filipino musicians are often shy about performing in public. Thus, he is particularly committed to giving young musicians a stage and a supportive environment where they can learn to perform and begin adding their own Filipino voice to what is no longer an American art form, but an international one.

Addressing the need to expand jazz education and performance in the local community, Gonzales puts all his efforts and money into Tago. A drummer, he performs at Tago most nights; he also serves as Tago’s talent booker, cook, dishwasher and janitor. Gonzales built the stage and most of the interior himself, but struggles to keep up with the many repairs required to maintain the aging structure. To ensure the future of this special part of the Filipino jazz scene, Gonzales recently initiated a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a complete renovation of Tago’s building.

Despite his challenges, Gonzales retains his signature optimism, remaining committed to Tago’s mission “to inspire people to lead meaningful and worthwhile lives through music—to give them the opportunity of learning, discipline, and passion; and to have a people be in favor of humility, the pursuit of excellence, and ultimately, humanity.”

New Orleans Jazz Museum, USA
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • Participating Years: 2018 – present
  • Event focus: Celebrating the cultural heritage and history of jazz through education and entertainment

The New Orleans Jazz Museum first celebrated International Jazz Day in 2018, but it has played a central role in promoting awareness and appreciation of “the music that New Orleans made famous”—jazz—for more than 50 years. Since its opening in 1961, the Jazz Museum has developed into the world’s premier repository of jazz-related artifacts, counting more than 25,000 pieces in its collection. These comprise an impressive array of jazz ephemera including “instruments, pictorial sheet music, photographs, records, tapes, manuscripts and other items ranging from Louis Armstrong’s first cornet to a 1917 disc of the first jazz recording ever made.”

Besides preserving the physical reminders of jazz heritage, the Jazz Museum ensures that visitors and New Orleanians experience the sounds of jazz in all its many forms, hosting more than 365 concerts and other performance programs annually. These range from concerts with local groups like Deacon John & The Ivories to panel discussions with prominent jazz critics and thinkers, even including eclectic offerings like jazz yoga. In addition, the Museum’s facility, located on the grounds of the historic Old U.S. Mint in the city’s French Quarter, is home to some 15 full-scale festivals each year with acts like the Tremé Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins, Steve Pistorius and more.

Collectively, these offerings represent far more than just a concert schedule or shelves of historical artifacts. As Museum Director Greg Lambousy puts it, “The Jazz Museum enhances New Orleans’ ongoing cultural renaissance by providing diverse resources for musicians and music lovers of all languages and nationalities. We fully explore America’s quintessential
musical art form in the city where jazz was born.” In other words, the Museum is doing its part to keep New Orleans’ unique cultural heritage alive and thriving.

Extending this commitment to the world stage, the Museum officially joined the global celebration of International Jazz Day for the first time in 2018. Guests from around the world explored the Museum’s interactive exhibits and danced together to live performances by the National Park Service’s Arrowhead Jazz Band and De La Salle High School Jazz Band. All guests received second line handkerchiefs as souvenirs, taking a piece of jazz history home with them. Following the performances, Music Curator David Kunian presented a lecture on rare jazz artifacts from the Museum’s collection. The day’s events concluded with the presentation of the 2018 Jazz Journalists Association’s Jazz Hero Award to legendary New Orleans pianist, bandleader and educator Ellis Marsalis.

For International Jazz Day 2019, the Museum presented a weeklong festival with performances by local student and professional groups, along with educational activities serving schoolchildren from across the city and the surrounding parishes. A particular highlight was a craft activity titled Jazz: What Ties Us Together, encouraging children to create their own jazz-inspired works of art. The Museum worked with schools to create a special exhibit of handmade International Jazz Day garlands drawn from classic jazz recordings, displayed during the festivities in late April. Instructions for the activity are available for download from jazzday.com, so that educators around the world can recreate this fun, creative exercise.

Notes Lambousy of the Museum’s participation in International Jazz Day, “There is no day more fitting to celebrate at the Jazz Museum than International Jazz Day. Our mission is to make the history and heritage of jazz accessible to the world. Hosting events in the Museum’s facilities in celebration of International Jazz Day embodies our goals.”

Congratulations and thanks to the New Orleans Jazz Museum for all it is doing to support jazz and cultural heritage!

Ngawang Pem, Bhutan

1) Why do you celebrate International Jazz Day?
Jazz music in its roots is associated with freedom and unity. Therefore, for me celebrating International Jazz Day is an expression of the importance of freedom of expression, encouragement of creativity towards uniting people, cultures and practices.

2) What does jazz mean to you personally? To your community and country?
Jazz to me is a genre of music that is incredibly unpredictable to listeners and immensely difficult to compose but at the same time easy to listen to, and it triggers contemplation. Personally, that jazz brings together various musical instruments and different forms of music like blues and folk, among others, to produce a common form of music, is a good example of what unity and cooperation can create.

3) How can jazz contribute to dialogue in your country?
Music is a poem expressed with beats and in rhythm. Jazz music in particular is the innovation of conventional music to express meaningful thoughts, frustrations and ideas. Jazz music should therefore be encouraged, as should performance. I believe it simply encourages people to come together into a space where their interests can converge and in the process lead to dialogue where common understanding can be built.

Niall Dennehy, Ireland

What does Jazz mean to you?

Since our band began six years ago we have covered many genres that piqued our interest. Our music and shows are a melting pot of everything that has made us who we are as musicians and a band: Blues, Funk, Soul, RnB, Rock. But Jazz is where it all started for some of us and remains a bedrock for us underneath what we do as a group today. As kids and music students Jazz served as an inspiration to some of us. A place to attain small morsels of wisdom and guidance from some of the greatest musicians to ever walk the Earth. Jazz was and is a frontier music, a music without rules or borders. This band started as just a group of friends and fellow musicians who would jam improvised Jazz around a table in an empty bar for no one but ourselves every Tuesday night. We would try to fuse as many styles as we could and no one was there to tell us what we could or couldn’t play. No one there to say “hey, you can’t do that!”. Through Jazz we explored music, we experimented, we tested our limits. After a year the room was packed with listeners and sometimes dancers coming to be a part of what we started. We then became The Art Crimes Band (as a reference to our improvised composing methods at the time and a salute to Steely Dan) and thought it was time to move out of the backroom of the bar.
Our hometown Cork City is said to be Ireland’s Jazz Capital. Since 1978 every October the city plays host to what is now The Cork Guinness Jazz Festival. Since it’s inception over a million Jazz fans have passed through our city to see some of the greats: Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Mel Torme, Wynton Marsalis, Buddy Rich, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton,  Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Gerry Mulligan, Stéphane Grappelli, Sonny Rollins, Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Gregory Porter, Billy Cobham, Joe Zawinul, Marcus Miller, and Gregory Porter to name but a very few. Many of these giants visited before our time but we all grew up with the Cork Jazz Festival. Because of this celebration of Jazz we had not only opportunities to see and hear some of our heroes in concert but have the privilege to meet and speak with some of them too. To learn, communicate and be inspired. Jazz plays an integral deep rooted role in your journey as a musician growing up in Cork City. It’s a part of our history now, a part of our city, a part of our music, a part of us.
Niels Lan Doky, Denmark
  • Location: Copenhagen, Denmark     
  • Participating Years: 2014 – present

Niels Lan Doky was born into a family of professional musicians: his Danish mother, a famous singer in 1950s Denmark, and his Vietnamese father, a guitarist, performed together in Paris for many years before settling in Copenhagen to raise their family. Listening as his father played Francisco Tárrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” was a defining moment for 5-year-old Doky, and it led him to start guitar lessons at age 7. By 11, he had switched to piano, and to learn new tunes, he would sit in on Sunday jam sessions at a local jazz club. After hearing him play, one of the performers at the club offered Doky a job. At age 13, Doky had found his calling.

His timing was fortuitous: Copenhagen has a long history of jazz appreciation, beginning in the 1920s and growing steadily as many famous American jazz musicians found it a welcoming place to perform. But World War II intervened, cutting off visiting artists, and the Nazi occupiers outlawed jazz. Rather than being stifled, jazz became the voice of underground resistance, producing a crop of exciting, homegrown jazz musicians that flourished after the war. Adding to the mix were many prominent African-American jazz musicians drawn to the free and open society of Copenhagen. Some, like saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster, stayed for years. A young Doky found himself playing with—and being mentored by—the legendary trumpeter and bandleader Thad Jones. Doky credits Jones for many valuable lessons, such as his advice on the very first night they played together: “Listen to the other members, don’t just listen to your own ears.” He also credits Jones for securing his acceptance, at age 17, to the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

After graduating from Berklee, Doky spent the next three decades as a professional musician commuting between New York and Paris. His collaborations during that time read like a directory of jazz icons, including Clark Terry, Oscar Peterson, Joe Henderson, Branford Marsalis, Johnny Griffin, Steve Coleman, Slide Hampton, Ray Brown, Marcus Miller, Terri Lyne Carrington, Diane Reeves, Jamie Cullum, Roberta Gambarini and many others. His prodigious recorded output, which includes over three dozen albums as a leader, has earned him praise as “intelligent, imaginative and wonderful,” (Ingrid Strömdahl, Svenska Dagbladet), “one of the most important pianists that European jazz has given us in the last 45 years” (Andrés Garrido, El Diario) and “the best pianist of his generation” (Sugita Hiroki, Swing Journal). Doky returned to Copenhagen, where he currently lives, in 2013.

In addition to serving as a leading figure on the international jazz scene, Doky has long been committed to making a positive impact on the Danish cultural ecosystem. He was instrumental in arranging for the permanent reopening of Jazzhus Montmartre, the famed Copenhagen jazz club and favorite haunt of expatriate American jazz masters like Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster, in 2010. Upon resuming his residency in Denmark three years later, Doky opened The Standard Jazz Club and restaurant in partnership with famed restaurateur and New Nordic Cuisine innovator Claus Meyer. For his able representation of Denmark on the world stage, and his prodigious contributions to jazz, he was made a Ridder af Dannebrog in 2010 by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, leading to his informal sobriquet “the knight of jazz.”

As an individual and as an artist, Doky exemplifies the mission and values of International Jazz Day. From his cross-cultural identity to his intercontinental career as a pianist, composer and bandleader, he relishes the diversity of thought and expression that jazz offers. In 2017, Doky enshrined that ethos in a special group, the nonprofit Niels Lan Doky International Jazz Collective (NLD IJC). Led by Doky and comprised of musicians from Europe, North America and South America, the NLD IJC aims to expand the worldwide appeal of jazz music through fresh, one-of-a-kind performance experiences. To date the ensemble has presented its programs at prominent venues in the greater Copenhagen area such as the National Museum of Denmark, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Hotel d’Angleterre, Sølyst and Nørrero Theater.

In honor of the 10th Anniversary of International Jazz Day in 2021, on April 30 the NLD IJC will present a special stop on their spring concert hall tour of Denmark, at the Musikhuset Aarhus’ renowned Symphonic Hall. The evening program will feature Doky performing alongside jazz legends Billy Cobham, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans and François Moutin, and will be streamed live to viewers worldwide.

Norman Barth, Marshall Islands

1) Why do you celebrate International Jazz Day?
Music is part of the common ground shared by all cultures, no matter where you live. International Jazz Day is another opportunity for all of us to come together to celebrate something that is part of our human fabric – in a world so full of news about what separates us.

2) What does jazz mean to you personally? To your community and the country of the Marshall Islands?
Jazz has allowed me to develop musically to a level I could never have attained if I had insisted on staying within the classical music paradigm. In some sense, jazz is more forgiving, more humane – although of course a look at a transcription of a solo by a jazz great shows you that it can be just as challenging as anything in classical music. Jazz has a focus on collaboration – getting along, taking turns, being polite, being supportive, and yet celebrating the differences, and the different interpretations that each musician brings to the performance.  In short, jazz is a mirror of life, and full of important messages for families, school kids, communities, neighborhoods, even for the international community itself.

The Marshall Islands is a remote collection of atoll islands in the equatorial Pacific.  It is a peaceful place; an accepting, friendly place.  People here have heard of jazz, but often they have not heard jazz itself.  Traditional “island music” is often acapella, or with guitar and ukulele.  Jazz is a whole new ball game; people are curious about it. Bebop’s energy level is rare here, while jazz ballads are closer to home.  And jazz chords and progressions are unusual enough here make people’s ears – and hearts – perk up.

3) How can jazz contribute to peace-building and dialogue in the Marshall Islands?
The Marshall Islands – like the rest of the Pacific islands region – is a country already at peace.  In today’s world, perhaps this is hard to believe, but it means this place and this region is a model to which the world can aspire.   That said, here too, music brings together people from across the communities.  And when people are together in an informal setting it is always an opportunity for dialogue.

At a global level, because the Marshall Islands is near the International Dateline where the day begins, it has some of the world’s first events on International Jazz Day.  So on April 30th each year, there is a chance some of the world will take notice of this peaceful place – and in that sense jazz and the Marshall Islands contribute to peace-building and dialogue around the globe.

Ola Onabule, United Kingdom

1)    Why do you celebrate International Jazz Day?
I think jazz is unique in its role as a conversational art form. To witness two or more musicians exchange thoughts and ideas in moments of spontaneous expression is always entertaining but can also be very exciting and spiritually enriching. Jazz Day is a great platform for spreading the word about this beautiful and borderless conversation that is central to the genre.

2)    What does jazz mean to you personally? To your community and country?
To me jazz means the musical expression of the fullest range of human emotion, from happy to sad, good to bad, naughty to nice and way beyond.

In my community and country I think jazz is widely perceived as this thing that is the preserve of a musically intellectual elite, which is a huge shame because that is exactly what it isn’t. It’s just a multi dialect language  – With so many ‘flavours’ of jazz out there, everyone can find ‘a jazz’ that speaks to them.

3)    How can jazz improve people’s lives?
Well, I described jazz earlier as spontaneous conversation and expression. In jazz I learned a powerful concept to share with the world: That, if you speak, I will listen carefully and intently, then respond with sensitivity, or wit, or humour, or humanity etc. It’s a philosophy that counters the message that is the dominant one in many lives across the world, that they have nothing to say that should be listened to, let alone responded to with fullest range of human emotion.

Pharaway Lacdao, Philippines

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Jazz to me is a philosophy-both a cognitive and an emotional kind of perspective. Jazz is a reaction. A reaction to pain (both emotional and physical), to despair, to loneliness, to hunger (in every form), to anger, to ignorance, to discrimination. Jazz grooves into feelings, thoughts, and matters that make somebody a total person. A person that wants to show compassion, affection without hesitation; a person that is brave enough to be kind, to be gentle, to be humble. A person that loves to love, to live, to cry when they can’t help it; somebody that fails and succeeds, and most of all, a human being that strives to make meaning out of her/his existence. Jazz is creating meaning, no matter the odds, out of someone’s humanity in all areas of personality: mental, emotional, physical and social. Jazz is highly structured Classical music flexibly and thoughtfully intertwined with the cry of the blues and inspired by both the organic and synthetic (sophisticated) properties of both the cultural and geographic planet Earth. To me jazz is a music that feels, thinks and creates. And explores.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

International Jazz Day inspires me, and makes me more confident and proud of my being a jazz vocalist, a jazz student, a jazz blogger, a jazz enthusiast. In my country, the Philippines, I have been supporting a number of jazz acts and events by either photographing, writing about them, or guest performing. IJD makes me very happy and removes that occasional loneliness I feel knowing that jazz, especially, pure and real jazz, is a music that does not really conform to the aesthetic demands of popular, mainstream show business. I celebrate JAZZ DAY to be happy, to help make the global jazz force stronger, and to demonstrate to everyone that jazz is alive and it is a creative, democratic, and a highly intelligent and spiritual kind of art form. In fact, on Jazz Day, I am posting online (primarily Facebook) my videotaped cover of the standard Blue Moon. I will be singing the song in mid-tempo bossa nova fashion (me on voice and guitar), introducing it with scat syllables inspired by world music, Latin jazz percussion, Gregorian chanting, and primitive field hollers, coupled with dissonant vocal and guitar interludes. This kind of version encapsulates my eclectic personality and philosophy as a jazz artist. I believe this version is appropriate for the jazz day celebration with its international cultural fabric. I may not actually perform on stage or at a bar, but once I’ve posted my videotaped recording online, I will be watching a jazz day performance of my local jazz music colleagues at the Hyatt City of Dreams to show support, to take pictures and write about their show.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

Honestly, I just would like to see happy performers and audiences on Jazz Day, smiling, grooving, dancing to jazzy tunes. I intend to capture such a picture by photographing and writing about my friends’ Jazz Day performance at a certain venue in town. Personally, I also hope to see positive or constructive comments about my videotaped cover of Blue Moon. I hope viewers of my video will enjoy and understand my musical concept and sensibilities. I really want everyone, everywhere to be happy either listening to or making music on Jazz Day. Every year.

Ramin Sadighi, Iran

Location: Tehran, Iran
Years celebrated: 2015 – present
Event Focus: Performance, intercultural dialogue

Ramin Sadighi founded Hermes Records in 1999 as an outlet for independent Persian music. The label has been classified as jazz, contemporary, traditional, and fusion, among other genres, and features popular Iranian artists including Alireza Mashayekhi, Quartet Diminished, Peyman Yazdanian and Hossein Alizadeh.

Sadighi became interested in celebrating International Jazz Day in order to foster a broader understanding in the world about the similarities between traditional Persian music and jazz, as both are based partly on improvisation. Sadighi is a self-proclaimed jazz-lover, and he speaks passionately about International Jazz Day’s underlying principles of tolerance, unity, and openness. The label itself was named after the god Hermes – a messenger of music, performer of music, and symbol of intercultural dialogue as a figure in both Persian and occidental cultures.

Jazz is extremely popular in Iran, particularly among music lovers, and Sadighi explains that there is a robust and lively music scene in Tehran, where he is based. He works primarily with experimental musicians, and he seeks out the avant-garde. Despite Iran’s music rules and regulations, which limit the amount and type of works Hermes can release, the label has been able to organize many jazz events in Iran, and has also worked with a trove of celebrated artists from both inside and outside the country.

Sadighi has organized International Jazz Day events since 2015 with one of his label’s celebrated acts, the Diminished Quartet, known for its wide range of styles from traditional Persian folk to experimental improvisation. Their Jazz Day concerts highlight the power of improvisation as a mechanism for communication, collaboration and understanding.

Rhys Phillips, United Kingdom

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Jazz is the music that makes me happy. I grew up with a jazz loving Dad who also plays keys and so there are certain jazz tracks which bring back specific happy memories from my childhood – e.g. I’ll always associate the Manhattan Transfer’s version of Birdland with a certain holiday in Perpignan. For our community in Cardiff, we have a large Afro-Caribbean community so music of Black origin is an important part of the local culture. Cardiff has a thriving jazz community with loads of great up and coming musicians graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and several venues putting on jazz gigs for local bands as well as touring artists.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

Radio Cardiff is a MOBO station so jazz is a big part of what we do. We thought that dedicating a whole Saturday to jazz related programming would be a great way to showcase our great jazz presenters as well as exploring the jazzier sides of other genres with special shows from our soul, reggae and drum n bass presenters. The fifth year of Jazz Day also seemed like a fitting occasion to do this.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

A wider appreciation for the broad church known as jazz – a better understanding from the world that jazz is not just one thing and that the phrase “I don’t like jazz” is probably not true for anyone. It just means you haven’t heard the right type of jazz yet! It’d also be good to see a city in the UK act as the host city for Jazz Day at some point.

Rudo Chasi, Zimbabwe

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

My name is Rudo Chasi and I am a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Divas’ Night is my initiative to promote young women in music by providing a free platform to perform their art and grow in terms of stage performance.It is an initiative supported by Pamberi Trust and Nzou Arts Centre.

I have a passion for women and music, I want to see women win and become the music industry game changers. I would want to see women in music grow from being marginalized in the industry to becoming musical powerhouses in the country of Zimbabwe. I am a lawyer by profession and quite passionate about the arts and I plan on setting up an organisation specializing in creating opportunities for Zimbabwean musicians which include performance platforms, Intellectual Property training and collaborative projects.

Jazz music to me means a unique rhythmic sound which artists use to convey powerful messages that at times influence society and brings positive change.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

We are celebrating International Jazz Day as African Zim Divas because so many of us have been inspired by African female icons such as Miriam Makeba, Dudu Manhenga and Dorothy Masuka who came on to the International music scene proving that the African woman has a place on a musical stage and can sing with dignity and grace contrary to
some beliefs. In Zimbabwe afrojazz music has been used to tell beautiful love stories, life stories as well and as such it has been an important part of the Zimbabwean community.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

I would like to see women from different walks of life African , American , European women unite through musical jazz collaborations recorded projects , stage performances showing and appreciating their different interpretations of Jazz music. I am sure we will be amazed at the unique interpretation of jazz that people from different places have. I would also like to see the use of jazz with other art forms that can express its positive values.

Samuel Samual, Indonesia

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Today many who don’t understand and know exactly what jazz is in our city, we decided to give very clear understanding of what jazz is.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? What is it important?

This is the third time we decided to always going to celebrating International Jazz Day, and the scale is increasing every year, and we had a regular jam session, in every session we received many members to learn Jazz.

3) What do you hope for in celebrating this Day?

We expect full support from the government of our area that allow us to make the event both in terms of security permission event, and also of Jazz musician both in Indonesia and International with their literature books, CD and DVD lessons, which will facilitate the teaching jazz correct to our member.

Santiago Fernandez, Spain

1)  What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Jazz is the type of music I’m discovering at maturity, but it’s also a style that has been present in my life more than I imagined, through films and advertising.

That’s the reason why we have made this podcast, “En Versión Jazz”, with 15 hours of nonstop music in more than 30 programs, full of jazz covers by people from all over the world who shared their songs on the internet.

“En Versión Jazz” expects to bring this musical genre closer to people who, a priori, wouldn’t listen to it or wouldn’t attend a jazz concert but would love to remember the best melodies from The Beatles, Guns and Roses, Michael Jackson, Beyonce or Adele.

“In jazz version” adheres to the International Jazz Day with a special program #Jazzday.

 

2)  Why are you celebrating the International Day of Jazz? Why is it important?  

During the documentation process we’ve confirmed that the jazz has been the music of several generations, being the fusion of different musical genres and times. We’ve also verified the importance of cooperation among musicians. 

Jazz is an alternative to uniform music succeeding all over the world, a reference of cultural diversity.

 

3)    What do you expect to celebrate on this Day?

The promotion of jazz is a review of human history in the last century: cinema, politics, human rights or the role of women.

As this day becomes more popular in the long term, we hope it’ll be not only a day of cultural diversity, but also a global project for mankind as a whole. A huge representation of what we can achieve when working together. 

Shon Campbell, Myanmar
  • Location: Yangon, Myanmar
  • Participating Years: 2013 – present
  • Event Focus: Performance, education, cultural exchange

Shon Campbell, an aid worker based in Myanmar, loves jazz and sometimes performs as a jazz singer. It was because of her jazz background that International Jazz Day organizers approached her in 2013 to organize an April 30 celebration in Myanmar, which at that time was the only UNESCO member state not planning a celebration. With very short notice, and no funding, Campbell found three local bands willing to donate their time and put on Myanmar’s first International Jazz Day celebration for about 160 people at a local bar. As she noted at the time, “It was a modest but definite start.”

Looking to expand from this modest beginning, in 2014 Campbell and her colleague Matt Maguire organized a concert in the garden of the local Institut Français, with rented sound equipment funded by the Goethe Institute. Friends and colleagues pitched in to publicize and produce the event, and local and expatriate musicians donated their time to perform for hundreds of attendees.

In 2015, Campbell began broadening Yangon’s International Jazz Day activities to include educational and outreach programs featuring professional jazz musicians from around the world. Visiting artists have included American guitarist and vocalist Dave Mooney (2015), Swedish guitarist Susanna Risberg (2016), and jazz trumpeter Mike Cottone (2017). The international musicians conduct workshops for local jazz players and interface with the community through culminating concerts. The Institut Français has continued to host each year’s Jazz Day concert in its garden, with a remarkable level of support from individuals, local businesses, and even the American and Swedish embassies. The concert consistently proves a draw for music lovers in Yangon; in 2015, more than 600 people attended, making it the largest crowd ever seen at an evening event at the Institut. This record was broken the very next year, when attendance exceeded 1,100.

The International Jazz Day concerts and workshops give much needed exposure and learning opportunities to talented jazz musicians in Myanmar, most of whom are self-taught. While jazz was very popular in the country during the 1960s, most young people know nothing about the genre and performing opportunities for jazz musicians are extremely limited. In 2014, Campbell expressed a hope that International Jazz Day in Myanmar might “give others a window into the talents of some of Myanmar’s musicians, and especially…allow more of them to work full time on their music.” Thanks to her incredible work, both of these goals have grown a little closer to fulfillment.

Skipp Pearson Jazz Legacy Foundation, USA

Skipp Pearson Jazz Legacy Foundation

  • Location: Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  • Participating Years: 2016 – present
  • Event focus: Performance, community engagement

For many jazz fans, there is nothing quite like enjoying a live performance. The experience of sitting just a few feet from an ensemble while they engage in that special combination of form and improvisation can be nothing short of magic. The Skipp Pearson Jazz Legacy Foundation, a small nonprofit organization based in Columbia, South Carolina, is dedicated to bringing more of that magic to patrons across the state.

Originally established to further the late saxophonist Skipp Pearson’s lifelong mission “to foster a greater appreciation of live jazz music performances,” the Foundation’s all-volunteer staff works primarily to support live concerts in South Carolina venues throughout the year. By spreading the unique experience of live jazz, the Foundation seeks to foster greater cultural literacy, and ultimately quality of life, in the communities where it works.

Also known as “Pops,” namesake Pearson was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, but spent over two decades performing across the United States and around the world. Years spent on the road gave him a unique appreciation for his home state’s historical influence on jazz music. Among Pearson’s numerous accolades was his designation, in 2002, as the state’s “official Ambassador of Jazz Music in honor of his extraordinary contributions to the State and the world of jazz music.” This honor had previously only been bestowed once, on legendary trumpeter and bebop architect John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie—another South Carolina native.

For Pearson, South Carolina—and particularly its largest city, Charleston—had an outsize impact on jazz that made it comparable to other musical incubators like New Orleans, Louisiana. He pointed to the Northward migration of African-American musicians from New Orleans, many of whom stopped and even stayed in Charleston on the way, as a powerful factor in developing the music and in bolstering the state’s production of fine musicians—including saxophonist Houston Person, percussionist Emmanuel Abdul-Rahim, guitarist Freddie Green, drummer Tommy Benford, and bassists Bill Benford and James Jamerson, among others.

True to Pearson’s vision, the live performances the Foundation supports are meant not only to entertain, but to promote dialogue and connect South Carolinians through the power of music. For a recent edition of International Jazz Day, the Foundation produced a statewide initiative comprising over a dozen concerts and jam sessions in multiple cities. The Foundation’s Executive Director Shirley Martin noted the program “made it possible for residents across South Carolina to hear jazz music all day long.” Jazz music, Martin says, has the ability “to cross all lines, break down any barrier to bring peace and harmony to rest.”

“We would have a completely different America without the art of jazz music.”

Small Jazz Band, Argentina

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Jazz is my life, since I was born my father listen to jazz and at age 10 began to touch it with my clarinet. I know no other life that has no jazz or could live if listening and playing jazz. In my Argentina jazz community it is very important, especially New Orleans Hot Jazz or Jazz.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

We celebrate it because it is a musical style that combines equal parts art, feeling and freedom of expression. It is important because it is a universal language and from their place of popular music rises to the top and most exquisite art and intellectual and aesthetic development of human beings.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

In the short term that people do not know and enjoys jazz is included in the public enjoyment of jazz and jazz. In the long term that governments and the media give a place of importance assigning economic resources that are given to other styles of popular music.

Stephane Koshoyan, France

1) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?
Jazz is not in its right place on the cultural stage in France and worldwide. The Ministry of Culture in France needs to give more support to jazz. The initiative of UNESCO, the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, Artists for Peace Marcus Miller and Danilo Perez and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz have paved the path and have made a difference. These artists and their music, its values and are the foundation in our concerts and festivals. We are with them and we want to work alongside UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to contribute to the success of Jazz Day in order to spread jazz around us and in the world.

2) How can an international network of people celebrating this Day contribute or help in your life?
It’s good to feel this, everyone grows all around this music and its values of sharing and tolerance. The world of jazz music is on its way!

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?
I wish all the young people go out to listen to live music, and listen and learn via the internet to see historical videos of Miles, Duke. Ella, Louis … That all bars in town stop showing football and commercials for once and show jazz on their screens. I wish that more people go out to hear jazz more often and that more jazz be presented on TV.

Stuart Coupe, Australia

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

I’ve always loved jazz and am excited about it being embraced once again by a younger audience through the music of artists such as Kamasi Washington.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

Jazz often doesn’t get as much exposure on radio as it should and this is a great opportunity to partly rectify that situation.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

More radio stations embracing the day, more events, concerts and so forth. And people realising that international jazz day is EVERYDAY.

Teca Macedo, Brazil

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Years active: 2018 – present
Event focus: Culture of peace, intercultural dialogue

Teca Macedo has been following the Day since its inception. An event promoter and producer in Brazil for more than two decades, Macedo has long been inspired by the capacity of jazz music to stimulate human connection.

“It’s not only about good music,” she says. “Jazz brings people together. Jazz is like life. You never know what is going to happen next; you have to really listen, be aware of what’s going on around you. I believe we have to listen more to each other, we have to look more at each other. So that’s why I decided to celebrate Jazz Day.”

Teca firmly believes in the power of jazz to encourage peace and reconciliation. “I once heard a jazz musician say that when they’re on stage playing jazz,” she recalls, “they are all equals. That jazz is a nonviolent answer for all conflicts.”

“We have to bring that concept to our lives. We have to learn from jazz.”

Macedo marked her first official celebration of International Jazz Day in 2018 with an all-star concert at the Blue Note Rio, featuring nearly a dozen prominent Brazilian jazz musicians and groups, including the PianOrquestra, Carlos Malta, Claudio Dauelsberg, Gabriel Grossi, Luiz Otavio, Robertinho Silva and more. The program also included an education program and performances throughout the day featuring students from “Favela Brass” and “Percussão na Maré,” both local NGO’s providing music education opportunities to children in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.

International Jazz Day is so pleased to have Macedo as a part of our worldwide community of organizers.

Thilma Komaling, Indonesia

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

To us, Hajarbleh Bigband — jazz music is the element that brings people together, regardless of many cultures, believes and religions in any form within the country.

3. Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

From the first year of announcement of International Jazz up till now we keep our excitement to be part of this global movement. The campaign is the living proof of how music unite world citizen; not just through music, but through understanding differences and act as one.

This year it is important for us – Hajarbleh Bigband- to showcase our heritage of music instrument, Angklung.

As one of the intagible heritage, the Indonesian Angklung based on www.unesco.org is a musical instrument consisting of two to four bamboo tubes suspended in a bamboo frame, bound with rattan cords. The tubes are carefully whittled and cut by a master craftsperson to produce certain notes when the bamboo frame is shaken or tapped. Each Angklung produces a single note or chord, so several players must collaborate in order to play melodies. Traditional Angklungs use the pentatonic scale, but in 1938 musician Daeng Soetigna introduced Angklungs using the diatonic scale; these are known as angklung padaeng.

The Angklung is closely related to traditional customs, arts and cultural identity in Indonesia, played during ceremonies such as rice planting, harvest and circumcision. The special black bamboo for the Angklung is harvested during the two weeks a year when the cicadas sing, and is cut at least three segments above the ground, to ensure the root continues to propagate. Angklung education is transmitted orally from generation to generation, and increasingly in educational institutions.

Because of the collaborative nature of Angklung music, playing promotes cooperation and mutual respect among the players, along with discipline, responsibility, concentration, development of imagination and memory, as well as artistic and musical feelings.

Therefore the collaboration is the most important element of the celebration, as we would share knowledge on Jazz music to the student of Pilar School and CISV Mosaic which range from 11 years old to 18 years old youngsters.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

We hope Jazz Day may facilitate global collaboration, amongst the 195 countries celebrating– to create projects, to initiate friendships, building global mentorships so our world might become a better place to live in. We’d like to be part of the global jazz community who responds in changes and crisis throught the world in any matter sector such as climate change, food security and war prevention. May we keep initiate freedom of expression through jazz. Inclusive– not exclusive.

Towfiq Arifin, Bangladesh

Towfiq Arifin Turjo
Drummer/Session Musician

Towfiq Arifin Turjo is a drummer/session musician based in Dhaka, Bangladesh; known for his work with 42 and the Robert Russell Trio.

Towfiq has performed with artists ranging from local pop/rock bands to internationally acclaimed jazz musicians. He started as a self-taught drummer at the age of 14 and developed his unique, eclectic sound over the years with the help and support of many incredible local musicians and educators.

Towfiq Arifin is said to be one of the Jazz pioneers in Bangladesh. Up until 2013, Jazz was only celebrated in small groups in Dhaka’s cafes and restaurants. In 2014, Towfiq, along with other musicians of the circuit organized the first ever International Jazz Day Concert in Bangladesh at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, a renowned venue in the capital. From then on, Towfiq Arifin has been organizing International Jazz Day concerts every year till 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a temporary halt to the event, but his efforts to celebrate the occasion remains relentless.

In 2014, Mariano Abello, Executive Director of Jazz Education Abroad (JEA) visited Dhaka to perform at the Dhaka University. Towfiq accompanied Mariano as a drummer and played one of his first jazz shows in front a grand audience of 1200.

The performance led to Towfiq being recognized widely as a jazz musician in the Bangladesh music industry, and as a result, he was invited to play at the first ever Jazz Festival in Bangladesh by Blues Communication in 2015. Artists from around the world were invited. International jazz giants like Shai Maestro and John McLaughlin played in the festival among other renowned musicians. Towfiq Arifin with his former group opened for McLaughlin at the festival. Two years later, Towfiq was again invited in for the second edition of the festival with a different group.

After a great success, Towfiq wanted to teach young artists of his local community and help them nurture to become full fledged jazz artists. Hence, he started a drum camp where individuals would be invited to private specialized lessons, in which they will learn the basics of jazz music and theory. In 2020, amidst the pandemic, he curated a workshop for Jazz Appreciation Month with EMK Center and American Center New Delhi. Later that year, in August, he organized an “Online Drum Clinic” with Bernhard Schimpelsberger, a composer whose works have been commissioned for the Beethovenfest Bonn (2018), opening ceremony of the Rowing World Cup Championships (2019), and collaborated with renowned artists like Anoushka Shankar, Akram Khan, and Gwilym Simcock. The clinic inspired many local artists as they got the chance to directly communicate with a very high-profile musician.

In the coming months, Towfiq Arifin Turjo plans to host online masterclasses in collaboration with Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory and will be publishing videos of popular Jazz Standards with his current group, Robert Russell Trio for Jazz Day 2021. You can find their debut album, “River”, which is a musical celebration of the mighty riverine that flow through the beautiful country, Bangladesh, on Bandcamp.

You can stream the album “River” by Robert Russell Trio here.

Travis Kemp, USA

1) What does jazz music mean to you?

To me, jazz music means thinking outside the box, following your own set of rules. It also means the freedom to express yourself musically when words just aren’t enough.

To your community?

Amarillo, TX has a great respect for jazz music. We have a lot of great local jazz musicians. We have a few annual jazz-related events, like June Jazz & Jazztober. In addition, both Amarillo College & West Texas A&M have great jazz programs. Plus, All That Jazz, the local radio show that I host, is the only live all-request jazz show in the Texas Panhandle.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day?

I’m celebrating International Jazz Day because people need to be educated about jazz music & its impact on music in America, as well as all over the world.

Why is it important?

People need to understand how & why jazz is so important to popular music today. They have to know about jazz’s past, in order for it to have a future.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

Short term: I would like to see people of every race, religion, sex & other backgrounds come together & partake in the glory & majesty that is jazz.

Long term: I would like to see people give jazz music the respect & recognition that it rightfully deserves.

UNESCO Rabat Office, Morocco

In celebration of International Jazz Day and in the framework of the project “Music for Sustainable Development in Morocco and Tunisia”, the UNESCO Office for the Maghreb in Rabat organized a multi-faceted series of events to highlight the issue of the place of jazz and improvised music within current music in the Maghreb.

The events include a webinar which features a discussion between artists and festival directors from Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, and Tunisia. The series culminates with an incredible collaborative project resulting from a five day residency between artists from Morocco and Tunisia in which they demonstrate that Maghreb jazz and improvisation offers an important and relevant contribution to the global jazz repertoire.

Victor Sebastian Morel, Paraguay

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Para mi el jazz, es un medio en el cual uno puede expresarse en su totalidad como persona, y asi mismo un motor de dialogo e intercambio de ideas entre las mas diversas personas sin importar su procedencia. El jazz es la expresion artistica de libertad

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

Celebramos el dia internacional del jazz, debido a la importancia que este genero musical ha brindado a toda la humanidad, es sumamente importante para de esta manera seguir fortaleciendo la importancia de valores como la libertanda de expresion el dialogo social asi como tambien el intercambio, la diversidad cultural y la fusion de las mismas.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

A corto plazo es de sumamente para la comunidad artistica de Asuncion el difundir e exponer a grandes artistas del genero , en nuestro pais, asi como tambien que el publico pueda disfrutar de la gran calidad artistica del jazz nacional, como tambien uno pueda conocer mas sobre el jazz.A largo plazo poder ir a que los artistas jovenes puedan pensar en un futuro de expresiones musicales atravez del jazz, y poder ir fortaleciendo un publico en constante crecimiento.

Vidan Lazarev, Macedonia

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

For me, jazz is the language of life – expressions of friendship and all classes of people. It’s what keeps me looking for more. The sounds of Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Nathan East, Melvin Davis, Simon Phillips, Jack Dejohnette, Pat Metheny are always going to be artists at the top of my list for their modern way of playing.

Jazz music in all of its forms is attractive in many ways. The music we hear everywhere, on the radio and TV stations, while we’re driving for instance, has jazz roots and certainly jazz is becoming a big part of our everyday lives as it grows in popularity in Stip. When the Music Academy started working in Stip, jazz became more and more popular, and the Academy itself began producing great artists. Teachers such as Goce Micanov (saxophone), Toni Kitanovski (guitar), Alek Sekuluvski (drums) are all contributing to the high level where jazz is now.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

This is the third time we are going to celebrate International Jazz Day. We organize many jazz events throughout the year, and this day has the top of the line performance. We do it because we are on the wave of modern society, it keeps our spirits high, and most importantly, we present jazz music and it’s meaning to young people in this region.

3) What do you hope for in celebrating this Day?

The event has grown from year to year, and this time we are going to do the biggest jazz event so far in Stip. We are set to deliver a great time for visitors with workshops, jazz literature readings and a cocktail party with very popular jazz musicians from Macedonia. It will be a great time with great musicians who perform at this event.

We grow together, and it’s very satisfying to know that we provide happiness and friendship. We are looking forward to this day and we hope we can outdo ourselves in this year’s event.

Virun Lertpanyawai, Thailand

Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Years active: 2014 – present
Event focus: Performance, community engagement

Virun Lertpanyawai is a Bangkok-based jazz lover and entrepreneur who founded the versatile music venue Sweets in 2012. His hard work and enthusiasm for the music helped turn a small coffee shop and art space into a vibrant community for live jazz in Bangkok, hosting accomplished local and international artists such as Gilad Hekselman, Nattapon Fuangaugsorn, Pisut Pratheepasena, Nir Felder, Krit Buranavitayawut, Randy Johnston, Ben Paterson and many others. Since 2014, Lertpanyawai and Sweets have presented International Jazz Day celebrations each year in locations around the city spanning a variety of themes and styles, from dixieland to hot jazz to big band. “Jazz is an international language and jazz people are lovely people,” says Lertpanyawai. “It can drive and motivate people to do some amazing things, even World Peace. Just open your heart and try this kind of art and music.”

Why do you celebrate International Jazz Day?

We are small jazz community that is trying to build and made our scene happen like in NYC or Tokyo. Jazz is our part of life and it’s a big part of myself. That’s why International Jazz Day is so significant, not only me, but for the jazz community around the world.

Tell us about a favorite memory from International Jazz Day

Each year since 2014, the most we loved was Jazz can make everyone happy, joyful and connected.

How do you think jazz can improve people’s lives?

Jazz is an international language and jazz people are lovely people. It can drive and motivate people to do some amazing things, even World Peace. Just open your heart and try this kind of art and music.

Learn more about Sweets’ mission to build a jazz community in Bangkok.

Western Cape Government (South Africa): Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS), in South Africa’s Western Cape province, strives to encourage excellence and inclusiveness in sport and culture through the effective, efficient and sustainable use of provincial resources, and through creative partnerships. In moving to excellence and making the Western Cape the sports and cultural center of South Africa, DCAS hopes to create the conditions for access and mass participation, talent identification and skills development.

The department remains committed to supporting the performing arts, especially while physical performances remain limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Music and the arts play an important part in uniting people and giving them hope during times when pressures and stresses are high.

While countries around the world continue fighting the pandemic, the department also remains committed to ensuring that artists in the Western Cape are given the opportunity to showcase their work on digital platforms. DCAS seeks to continue giving artists necessary support so that they can continue to shine their lights at times when the darkness feels overwhelming to many.

The department has long supported jazz festivals hosted in Cape Town, and has provided mentoring opportunities to young musicians through workshops during the International Jazz Festival, which was held annually in Cape Town prior to the pandemic. It has also ensured that emerging jazz musicians have access to platforms to showcase their talent at these festivals.

The virtual programme offered by DCAS in 2021 is in lieu of the International Jazz Day celebrations which would have taken place for the first time on the African continent in April 2020, with Cape Town’s designation as that year’s Global Host City. The planned programme aimed to celebrate and showcase South African jazz in all its various formations. In collaboration with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, various workshops were going to be held to capacitate emerging jazz artists by the jazz legends and mentors from the Western Cape province. This year’s programme is a showcase of some of the community music programmes in the Western Cape and at the same affording them an opportunity to earn an income during this difficult time of the pandemic. DCAS thanks the various stakeholders that worked together with the department to make the programme a success, including SPIN foundation, IMAD, SAJE, Artscape Theatre, Jazz in the Native Yards, UCT, and Cape town big band jazz festival.

Windy Karigianes, USA

1) What does jazz music mean to you? To your community?

Jazz to me is the ultimate expression through music. It allows for clear messages of the soul to be conveyed to the people in my community and around the world. It brings happiness and fulfillment in every note played.

2) Why are you celebrating International Jazz Day? Why is it important?

International Jazz Day, in itself, is a miracle of an occurrence. I am an artist who plays jazz. So therefore I will acknowledge this day and be of service to this music that I love so very much. It is part of our American heritage that has opened all boarders and walls that create conflict and brings them down. Here is the canvas of art that creates peace and opens the doorways and leads us down the pathway of peace as we will continue to pass it on through generations and it will continue to shape our hearts and color our world and take our minds on the souls journey into creativity.

In short, everyday is Jazz day for me. It is a very intelligent art form practicing to it daily and listening to it daily brings up my standards and everyone else’s.

3) What would you like to see happen through this day – short term and long term?

In the long term I would love to see jazz kept alive in all of its wondrous forms: traditional, contemporary and fusion sounds. It is an important part of humanity. Jazz is a musical cosmic collective that unites humanity across the globe.

To keep this art form alive so our children can have freedom of expression. To exercise their mind and go to the outer limits.

I would like to see a comradery of artists, and of all people coming together to share a passion to honor those who came before us and those who continue on. I would like to see a unification of all nations through art which encompasses all languages, all colors, one People.

Wise Music Society, Latvia

Location: Riga, Latvia
Years active: 2014 – present
Event focus: Performance, education

Wise Music Society (WMS) was founded by a group of musicians eager to foster a jazz and funk community, beginning in Riga and eventually expanding to broader Latvia. Although jazz and funk had at one time enjoyed popularity in Latvia, interest waned and until recently, these musical genres occupied only a niche space in Latvian musical culture.

WMS sought to change this by broadening the exposure of the general Latvian population to these musical genres. They began by organizing concerts to provide a platform for musicians to meet potential audiences and to give budding musicians a space to experiment and meet like-minded artists. WMS now organizes jazz and funk events, festivals, radio stations, and jam sessions throughout the country, always featuring Latvian musicians and artists.

Over the years, WMS’ efforts have paid off as jazz and funk are once again gaining popularity amongst Latvian youth.

WMS partnered with International Jazz Day for the first time in 2014, organizing concerts in two Latvian cities. Since then, WMS has become the primary Latvian partner for IJD. The scope of their events has grown enormously, and they now organize a series of concerts annually throughout the country and internationally on and around April 30. The concerts feature Latvian jazz artists and highlight the prevalence and importance of jazz music in Latvian society. The IJD events also include workshops and other educational sessions that teach participants about the jazz genre.

The missions of WMS and IJD dovetail in many ways, notably by encouraging people to experience the power of jazz music, allowing musical conversations to occur unconditionally, and highlighting the impact this creative musical art form has had on the world throughout its history and in cultures around the world.