Herbie Hancock, in his role as UNESCO ambassador for the promotion of Intercultural Dialogue, announced two days ago, that April 30th will be the first International Jazz Day and that concert performances will take place in New Orleans, Paris and New York besides other cities. He himself will perform on that day in New Orleans, as well as New York.
What’s the point? Maybe they really need such an annual event in the US to re-focus their attention on their biggest cultural contribution to the world, but internationally ? There are more jazz clubs and radio station/programs for this music outside the US than inside – most American jazz artists make a living from touring Europe and Asia and less from performing in their home country and record sales, which used to be for the genre 65% in the US are now about 70% outside that market.
Herbie is quoted saying: “I’m really excited about International Jazz Day because so many artists from various countries and genres have a connection to jazz and will be able to honour this music that has had a profound effect on them, I hope that this day spreads the joy of spontaneous creation that exists in this music.”
“Jazz has been the voice of freedom for so many countries over the past half century,” he added and that the “international diplomatic aspect of jazz” will be celebrated that day.
There is no doubt, that Jazz can use all promotion it gets and there is no doubt as well that it is the universal language, a way to communicate without words. Improvisation doesn’t know cultural background, as it is the vehicle to express oneself on a common ground with other musicians.
Let’s just hope that all involved in jazz will take this opportunity and make the best out of it – promoters, artists labels – if all work together it could actually be a worthwhile and great annual celebration of what we all love: improvised music, or simply said something that is more than that: Jazz.