About the 1st International Jazz Day in 2012

What: In November 2011, during the UNESCO General Conference, the international community proclaimed 30 April as "International Jazz Day". The 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 organizations, 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.

Jazz has been a force for positive social transformation throughout its history, and it remains so today. This is why UNESCO created International Jazz Day. From its roots in slavery, this music has raised a passionate voice against all forms of oppression. It speaks a language of freedom that is meaningful to all cultures.The same goals guide UNESCO in its efforts to build bridges of dialogue and understanding between all cultures and societies.

Irina Bokova, Director General
Message for International Jazz Day 2012

Why International Jazz Day?

  • Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance;
  • Jazz is a vector of freedom of expression;
  • Jazz is a symbol of unity and peace;
  • Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities;
  • Jazz fosters gender equality;
  • Jazz reinforces the role youth play for social change;
  • Jazz encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones;
  • Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies.


Main Events

Launch of International Jazz Day: Paris, France, 27 April 2012

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock will kick-off the first annual International Jazz Day with a full day of events including live performances, Master Classes, and discussions featuring Marcus Miller, Barbara Hendricks, Hugh Masekela, Dee Dee Bridgewater, plus much more.

New Orleans, United States of America, 30 April 2012

Special sunrise concert in the birthplace of jazz, in the margins of the famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Kermit Ruffins, Bill Summers, Treme Brass Band, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Dr. Michael White, Luther Gray, Roland Guerin, and other special guests.  

New York, United States of America, 30 April 2012

Co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, this special evening concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall will feature performances by Tony Bennett, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Robert Cray, Eli Degibri (Israel), Jack DeJohnette, Sheila E., Jimmy Heath, Zakir Hussain (India), Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Danilo Pérez, Dianne Reeves, Bobby Sanabria, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Hiromi (Japan), and others. George Duke will serve as Musical Director. Confirmed Co-Hosts include Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.

All Events around the World

John Beasley - Strange Fruit More Tunes

Exclusive Interviews

  • Esperanza Spalding

    Esperanza Spalding is an American jazz bassist/vocalist/composer, whose work dra...

  • Barbara Hendricks

    Barbara Hendricks was born in the USA and received her musical training and her ...

  • Dee Dee Bridgewater

    Three-time Grammy Award winner. Recipient of Tony Award. World jazz ambassador e...

More exclusive interviews here

Join the celebration

  • Join UNESCO on Facebook and Twitter to exchange with others about jazz’s impact. Make sure to use #JazzDay in your message!

  • Organize a jazz concert in your community with local musicians and students.

  • Teachers, you may choose to center part of your classes around jazz. You could consider discussing jazz music and musicians, videos, concerts, or even documentaries.

  • Encourage your local community to participate by organizing seminars, photo exhibitions or film and video screenings.

  • Talk about jazz! Do some research on the history and legacy of jazz throughout the years, and engage in discussion with your children or your friends about what you have learned.

  • Browse the jazz selection at your local record store, and consider supporting the artists by purchasing the song or album you like best.

  • Donate your time to an NGO or a school helping to educate new generations about jazz music.

  • Learn some jazz, play an instrument, and teach others what you have learned!