The Power of Jazz

John Wesley Reed Jr. By

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"Jazz has the power to make men forget their differences and come together...Jazz is the personification of transforming overwhelmingly negative circumstances into freedom, friendship, hope, and dignity." Spoken by Quincy Jones at the First International Jazz Day in 2012 at the United Nations.

The soul of Jazz is expressed in the life of its humblest most gifted people. Musicians find expressions humility, courage, and deep heritage, from the past to its vast promise for the future.

Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance. It is a path of freedom of expression; a symbol of unity and peace.

Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities while nurturing gender equality. This music strengthens 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 disregarded societies.

In April 2012, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (TMIJ) spearheaded and organized the historical events which took place around the world where Jazz legends gathered together for key events at UNESCO's Headquarters in Paris, at the United Nations' Headquarters in New York, as well as at the emblematic Congo Square in New Orleans. From Algiers to Buenos Aires, from Kuala Lumpur to Warsaw, from Lomé to Santo Domingo, more than a hundred countries celebrated this day.

After the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011, April 30th was declared International Jazz Day.

On April 30, 2012, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations missions, U.S. embassies and government outposts around the world hosted special events for the First Annual International Jazz Day on April 30, 2012 to honor this respected musical art form called Jazz. Universities, libraries, schools, community centers, performing arts venues and arts organizations of all disciplines around the world marked the day through concerts, education programs, seminars, lectures, book readings, public jam sessions, master classes, photo exhibitions, dance recitals, film and documentary screenings, theater presentations and spoken word performances. More than one billion people around the world were reached through 2012 International Jazz Day programs and media coverage.

In 2012, UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz presented three high-profile programs: A daylong celebration in Paris at UNESCO World Headquarters; a sunrise concert in New Orleans' Congo Square, the birthplace of Jazz; and a sunset concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. Among the world-renowned artists that participated were John Beasley, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido Camero, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Robert Cray, Jack DeJohnette, George Duke, Sheila E., Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Hiromi (Japan), Zakir Hussain (India), Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Danilo Pérez (Panama), Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Treme Brass Band and Stevie Wonder. Hosts included Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.

"Observe it. Figure it out. Put it to the soul and science test. Then, say to yourselves, I can do that." —Quincy Jones.

An impresario in the broadest and most creative sense of the word, Quincy Jones has succeeded in almost every segment of the media and entertainment industry. He has been nominated for a record 79 Grammys and won 27 Grammys, more than any living musician; including having produced Michael Jackson's Thriller, the best-selling album of all- time, and "We Are the World," the best-selling single of all-time.

Quincy says, "We should take a moment to let the soul catch up with the body. Go out and find a song you love with someone you love, a poem that touches your heart, and take the time to let the whisper of God's voice come into your mind."

Exemplary of the mission, goals and objectives of International Jazz Day, Quincy will be 81 years young on March 14, 2014.

International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and Jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about Jazz and its roots, future and impact, raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, and reinforce international cooperation and communication.

Each year on April 30, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating discrimination, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change.

Together, TMIJ and UNESCO will continue their partnership to encourage schools, universities, libraries, arts organizations, community centers and other entities in UNESCO's 195 member states to host Jazz concerts and educational programs on International Jazz Day. Our goal is to reach people of all ages and backgrounds, in order to include them in this global celebration of freedom, creativity, moreover, Jazz.

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