Ya like jazz? Come together with people around the world for International Jazz Day on April 30. International Jazz Day is led by legendary musician Herbie Hancock with the goal of promoting the genre’s roots and intercultural influence. Thus far, 30+ countries have registered concerts and events, so check out the activities in your city!
International Jazz Day - History
April 30, 2012
The first International Jazz Day is celebrated
The first International Jazz Day is held, featuring high-profile programs in Paris, New Orleans, and New York.
UNESCO designates April 30
UNESCO names April 30 International Jazz Day to culminate the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month in April.
July 22, 2011
Herbie Hancock launches his mission
Herbie Hancock is designated a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and begins his mission to create a celebration of the diplomatic role of jazz music.
Herbie Hancock joins Miles Davis
Herbie Hancock joins Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet where he helped refine the role of the rhythm section.
Jazz is born
Jazz originates from the African-American communities in the Southern United States, born from its roots in blues and ragtime.
International Jazz Day Activities
1. Listen to the greats
Whether you’re new to jazz or want to honor the classics, honoring the musicians who helped define the genre is the ultimate way to celebrate International Jazz Day. Check out Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane to start.
2. Attend a concert
Concerts are held all over the world to celebrate International Jazz Day. If there’s not one near you, why not host your own event? You can even register the event on the International Jazz Day website.
3. Take some lessons
Take to Yelp or even the streets of your neighborhood – there are learning opportunities everywhere. The hard part will be deciding which instrument to play!
Coolest Jazz Sub-genres To Explore
1. Latin Jazz
Instead of a drum kit, Latin Jazz uses congas, bongos, or timbales to drive a Latin American style rhythm.
2. Avant-Garde Jazz
Avant-garde art musical composition combines with jazz instruments to form this sub-genre, characterized by its emphasis on improvisation and experimentation.
Beat-driven and highly danceable, swing music features a strong rhythm section. You’ll recognize Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole as famous pop vocalists of the swing movement.
4. Soul Jazz
Soul jazz incorporates strong influences from blues, soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues to create music with repetitive rhythms and bluesy melodies.
Why We Love International Jazz Day
A. It unites cultures
Herbie Hancock wanted to celebrate the diplomatic role of jazz in unifying people all around the world, and thus International Jazz Day was born. Countries from Argentina to Zambia throw jam sessions, music clinics, concerts and more, each with their own unique cultural flavor.
B. Anyone and everyone can participate
In 2017, more than 190 countries hosted events for enthusiasts of all skill levels and sub-genres. A major focus of International Jazz Day is community outreach and education. Thanks to UNESCO, beginners and advanced players can access lessons on writing blues music, Indian rhythms, the mathematics of music and more
C. Top jazz musicians perform together
Each year, one city is selected for the annual Global Host celebration. Everything culminates in one incredible performance. The All-Star Global Concert features the best jazz musicians from countries around the world, including Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and Aretha Franklin, just to name a few.