28.04.2017 - New York Office

United Nations Headquarters swing in the rhythm of jazz as the International Jazz Day observance kicks off worldwide

© UNESCO: UN Delegates Lounge and Distinguished participants

New York: On 27 April 2017 the annual observance of the International Jazz Day was initiated with a UN concert, organized by UNESCO, the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations, National Jazz Museum and UNSRC Jazz Society.

The United Nations kicked off the 6th International Jazz Day celebrations with a concert that brought together distinguishes Ambassadors, members of the diplomatic community and UN Secretariat. At the world hub of multilateralism jazz performances served as a diplomatic tool to foster dialogue, mutual respect and understanding. Diplomats and Secretariat staff left aside their political and cultural differences, and “swung” the night away in the rhythm of jazz. In a true manifestation of the International day the concert showed the unifying power of jazz to engage people in celebration of our shared humanity.

Welcoming the audience, Ambassador Courtney Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the UN, highlighted the universal message of jazz and its role for the world peace. He stressed that since its origin in New Orleans jazz has moved a long way in incorporating various musical traditions and in representing the vibrant cultural heritage of nations across the globe.  He concluded that ‘We are happy to partner in organizing this concert to mark International Jazz Day and are glad to see this large turnout. We can all enjoy this evening's performance and celebrate the unifying power of music."  

In his opening remarks, Maher Nasser, Acting Under-Secretary General for Global communications, outlined the link between culture, jazz, creativity and the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms Nasser also underlined how jazz cultural legacy of different continents and serves as a “bridge of peace”.

Ms. Marie Paule Roudil, Director of UNESCO New York, called for recognition of the power of music for building just and peaceful societies. She also reminded the audience that the very first concert to celebrate the International Jazz Day was held  at the United Nations Headquarters in 2012, having the General Assembly hall abuzz with jazz.

Tonight concert featured the performances of three multicultural groups: Sameer Gupta trio, that combines traditional and modern styles, inspired by Indian and American heritage, Our Thing, a co-led project by the artist from Israel, Panama and Brazil, and UNSRC Jazz Society, a staff recreation club at the United Nations, comprised of UN staff and non-staff affiliated members.

This year’s musical performances were made possible with our partner the National Museum of Jazz in Harlem. Mr. Timoty Porter, the Chairman of Museum, urged the audience to preserve, promote and present jazz internationally, and referred to the unique inclusive nature of jazz: being born in the United States, jazz incorporated the elements from all parts of the world, several of which are presented in tonight’s performances.

Ms Lala Lawri Moor, President of the UNSRC Jazz Society,  thanked the Permanent Mission of Jamaica, UNESCO and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem for partnering to bring jazz into the UN community by way of a mini jazz festival, thereby promoting greater understanding and appreciation of this art form. She said that “Music is a universal language and the packed crowd of people who attended the IJD event here at the United Nations proved that jazz remains a top choice for music lovers!"

Both UNESCO and United Nations have recognized the unique and universal diplomatic role of jazz in uniting people in all corners of the globe, and officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day. The International Jazz Day is the one day each year that jazz is celebrated worldwide, bringing together people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities in 196 countries.

The sixth annual All-Star Global Concert, culminating the worldwide celebrations of the International Jazz Day, will be hosted in Cuba this year. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, as chairs of the celebration, will join an extraordinary array of artists from around the world in Havana on April 30, 2017.

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