'Today the COVID-ridden world needs jazz more than ever in the fight against all forms of oppression'

The 10th anniversary of the International Jazz Day is set to take off with a series of performances, educational and community outreach initiatives across the globe.

ByJose Kalathil

Updated 23 Apr 2021, 3:17 pm

(Representational Image: Unsplash)
(Representational Image: Unsplash)


The International Jazz Day 2021 will be celebrated on April 30, 2021 with an inspiring series of performances, and educational and community outreach initiatives in over 190 countries.

The innovative initiatives to be conducted on the 10th anniversary edition of the IJD was announced by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock simultaneously in Paris and Washington on Thursday.

Hosted by multi-Academy Award winning actor Michael Douglas, the 2021 All-Star Global Concert will be streamed live from UNESCO in Paris and the United Nations in New York with a lineup of some of the best international artists performing from cities around the world. UN Secretary-General António Guterres will speak during the concert, of which jazz pianist Herbie Hancock will be the artistic director, with John Beasley serving as the concert’s musical director.

“UNESCO created International Jazz Day to share the values of a deeply meaningful musical genre,” explained Audrey Azoulay.

Today, the world need jazz more than ever in the fight against all forms of suppression, she said.


“Today we need jazz more than ever. We need its values, based on human dignity and the fight against racism and all forms of oppression. It is so much more than music, jazz is the kind of bridge builder we need in the world today,” Azoulay said. 

On 30 April, a multilingual range of free virtual education modules will be presented via and the official International Jazz Day Facebook page, including master classes, a composition workshop by GRAMMY Award-winning pianist and composer Billy Childs, and an interactive programme for younger listeners led by GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater.

A panel discussion series will feature conversations with Audrey Azoulay, Herbie Hancock, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, hip-hop producer DJ Khalil and pianist and composer Kris Bowers, among others.

"Our International Jazz Day community has displayed incredible resilience, creativity, ingenuity and compassion throughout the immense challenges of the past year," said Herbie Hancock.

Ushering in joy, courage amd hope for the future of jazz, Hancock said: “While the global pandemic continues to make life difficult for so many around the world, the example of organizers from Nepal to Mexico to Cameroon inspires us to greet this historic 10th anniversary milestone with joy, courage and hope for the future of jazz".

The All-Star Global Concert will mark the culmination of International Jazz Day 2021, starting at 9 pm UTC.

In New York: Performances by Melissa Aldana (Chile), Massimo Biolcati (Italy), A Bu (China), Cyrus Chestnut (USA), Amina Figarova (Azerbaijan), Roberta Gambarini (Italy), Kenny Garrett (USA), James Genus (USA), Stefon Harris (USA), Ingrid Jensen (Canada), Joe Lovano (USA), Rudresh Mahanthappa (USA), Antonio Sánchez (Mexico) and Veronica Swift (USA) will light up the day.

In Los Angeles: Herbie Hancock will be joined by Alex Acuña (Peru), Justo Almario (Colombia), Dee Dee Bridgewater (USA), Jonathan Butler (South Africa), Mahmoud Chouki (Morocco), Gerald Clayton (USA), Andra Day (USA), Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Marcus Miller (USA), Dianne Reeves (USA), Ben Williams (USA), Francisco Torres (Mexico) and Justin Tyson (USA).


Leading musicians performing from their home countries will be Igor Butman in Moscow (Russia), Ivan Lins in Rio De Janeiro (Brazil), John McLaughlin in Monaco, James Morrison in Mt. Gambier (Australia), Junko Onishi in Tokyo (Japan), and Jacob Collier in London (United Kingdom) and more.

In parallel, an array of virtual and socially distanced activities will take place across the globe on the day. Independent artists, UNESCO Creative Cities of Music, and organizers worldwide have curated thousands of concerts, webinars, radio broadcasts, charity fundraisers, marathon jam sessions, educational workshops, art exhibitions and more, all adhering to recommended public health guidelines. For a full listing of events scheduled around the world, visit

The 30 April programme will be presented as a live webcast via YouTube, Facebook,, UN Web TV, UNESCO and U.S. State Department outlets. International Jazz Day programmes are made possible by Toyota, the 2021 Lead Partner. Air transportation for artists and educators is provided by United Airlines, the airline partner of International Jazz Day.

Established by UNESCO in 2011 at the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, and recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every 30 April to celebrate the international art form of jazz, highlighting its important role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity.

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is UNESCO’s partner in the organization and promotion of International Jazz Day.

It may be recalled that Herbie Hancock had visited India a few times and in 2009, he delighted Delhi with his inspiring performance at "The Living Dream" concert.

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International Jazz dayjazz musicHerbie Hancock

Jose Kalathil

Jose Kalathil

Jose Kalathil is s senior journalist and can be contacted at


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